Paulo Henrique Rodrigues Pereira
Spring 2020 ALARI Visiting Fellow
Paulo Henrique Rodrigues Pereira is a PhD candidate at the Law School of the University of Sao Paulo (Department of Philosophy and Theory of Law). He has a bachelors degree and a masters in Law from the same University. During the masters program, he researched the modern moral formation, and its impacts on the creation of 19th century liberal law. Now, as a PhD candidate, he is researching the legal aspects of slavery in Brazil, with a special focus on the uses and ambiguites of the Brazilian Free Wombs law (1871), as well as its connections with the Atlantic experience. He has published mainly in the fields of Moral Philosophy and History of Law.
Mr. Pereira’s research focuses on the development of the idea of a free womb law in Brazil, as well as its impacts on law and slavery. By analyzing the strength and legal implications of slave property by birth, his thesis aims to identify which conditions enabled the development of the notion of birth freedom in a legal environment deeply marked by the protection of slave property.
However, the legacy of the Free Wombs Law is not certain. On one hand, the law broke the surviving pillar of the continuity of slavery - the principle partus sequitur ventrem -, legally freeing the children of enslaved people. On the other hand, it constituted new regimes of servitude that allowed the effects of slavery to continue. Based on ambiguous practices in the application of the Free Womb law, the research investigates the legal disputes that sought to determine whether it would become a freedom diploma or a means to perpetuate slavery.