As Executive Director of ILAS, Gustavo Azenha runs the daily operations of the Institute and its affiliated centers and programs, serving as the chief budget and human resources officer, and overseeing programming, outreach, and development. He also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Masters program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Gustavo formerly served as the Director of the Columbia University Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies (2015-2022).
Gustavo holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University, where his training and research focused on environmental anthropology and political ecology. He specializes in development and socioenvironmental politics in Brazil, with his primary research efforts directed towards examining the historical and contemporary interrelations between environmental, indigenous, and economic development policies. More broadly, his interests and expertise are concerned with the politics of inequality and with the role of civil society and social movements in public policy dynamics. His research and professional experiences have included engagement with the politics of sustainable development, public health, and education & technology. His diverse research interests are animated by a theoretical preoccupation with the interrelations between materiality, culture, and power, engaging with debates within anthropology, science & technology studies, political ecology, and related strains of social theory.
Prior to joining ILAS, Gustavo has held positions as a postdoctoral fellow at Barnard College’s Department of Anthropology (through a National Science Foundation Fellowship) and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Purchase College. He also worked for 5 years in applied global public health, engaged in advocacy and NGO capacity-building initiatives throughout Latin America.