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Felipe Fernandes Cruz Assistant Professor Department of History Tulane University
Felipe Fernandes Cruz
Assistant Professor
Hebert 215H


I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil and have now lived in Florida, Texas and Louisiana. I earned a BA in history Florida State University, and later a PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on the history of Brazil and history of technology. I have researched and written on a variety of topics such early aeronautics, frontier exploration, criminalized ballooning, and espionage.

I also have a strong interest in digital humanities, for both research and public history. I have developed software for making geolocated AR (Augmented Reality) accessible to historians working on interpreting historical sites for the public, as well as a method for using AR as a curatorial layer for large format historical documents such as maps. I am also currently working on a project to build an affordable device (under $50) for digitizing historical materials on the field. It is tentatively called “The Pocket Archivist” and it will be used to crowdsource the preservation of historical materials in community or personal archives. I am also interested in alternative/experimental formats for writing about history and was a founder and managing editor of The Appendix: A Journal of Narrative & Experimental History.


I am currently working on a book titled “Flight of the Steel Toucans: Aeronautics and Colonization in Brazil’s Frontiers.” The book explores the role of science and technology, especially aviation, in the colonization of Brazil’s vast frontiers. It shows how popular culture, positivistic elites and a technocratic state came together in an almost religious belief that aviation was a solution to many of Brazil’s problems, and that the technology’s ability to conquer large distances would integrate the country’s distant territories. These ideological notions about aviation shaped the very development of the technology in Brazil. The application of these technocratic solutions, the book argues, created a unique frontier, with distant locations connected primarily by air, and where flying was commonplace for indigenous peoples.

Fellowships & Awards

  • SSRC-IDRF (Social Science Research Council - International Dissertation Research Fellowship)
  • AMS (American Meteorological Society - Fellowship in the History of Science)
  • Smithsonian Visiting Researcher – Air & Space Museum
  • Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology - Resident Fellow
  • Society for the History of Discoveries Essay Prize
  • The Kranzberg Fellowship (Society for the History of Technology)
  • Edward H. Moseley Award (Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies)