Antoine Acker

Antoine Acker

Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Professorial Fellow
Spoken languages
French, English, German, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish
Areas of expertise
  • Environmental History
  • Anthropocene
  • Environmental Governance
  • Climate, Energy and Innovation
  • Social movements
  • Agriculture, land and rural development
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • Latin America
  • Europe



Antoine Acker is an environmental historian working on global connections in the age of the Anthropocene, with a focus on transatlantic networks spanning between Latin America and Europe. At the Graduate Institute, he is leading the Eccellenza professorial project AntropoSouth: Latin American Oil Revolution in the Development Century. It studies the entwinement of energy and environmental topics in the process of nationalization of petroleum resources which accompanied the construction of post-colonial Latin American nation states and evaluates the impact of these transformations for energy transitions at a global level. In parallel, Acker is preparing a monograph on the role of history in global climate politics, and two co-edited volumes about the history of the Anthropocene in the Americas. Since 2013 he has taught classes and supervised student works in European, Global and Latin American history.



Antoine Acker has a PhD from the European University Institute, Florence (2014), and taught at the universities of Bielefeld (2013), Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle (2013-2014), La Rochelle (2014-2015), Maastricht (2015) and Zurich (2017-2021). He was also an invited fellow at the University of Bielefeld’s Center for InterAmerican Studies (2015), the Walter Benjamin Kolleg in Bern (2015-2016), the Center for the History of Global Development in Shanghai (2019), the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and the Centre for Global History in Munich (2020-2021), as well as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellow at the University of Turin (2016-2017). His publications include Volkswagen in the Amazon: The Tragedy of Global Development in Modern Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which received Honorable Mention for the Warren Dean Prize of the Conference on Latin American History, and “A Different Story in the Anthropocene: Brazil’s Postcolonial Quest for Oil (1930-1975)” (Past & Present, 249(1)|2020), winner of the Latin American Studies Association’s Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Prize. 

Selected Publications



  • Volkswagen in the Amazon: The Tragedy of Global Development in Modern Brazil. Cambridge University Press (Global and International History series), 2017.  

Edited Volumes 

  • Brazil in the Great Acceleration. Special issue of Varia Historia, 34(65) | 2018. Co-editored with Georg Fischer.

  • Negotiating Nature in the Americas: Imaginaries and Interventions between Preservation and Exploitation. Special issue of the Forum for InterAmerican Research, 9(2) | 2016. Co-editored with Olaf Kaltmeier and Anne Tittor.

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals & Encyclopedias

  • Amazon Development. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. 2021, p.1-24.

  • “What Could Carbofascism look like? A Historical Perspective on Reactionary Politics in the Covid-19 Pandemic”, Journal for the History of Environment and Society 5 | 2020, p.135-148.

  • “A Different Story in the Anthropocene: Brazil’s Postcolonial Quest for Oil (1930-1975)” Past & Present, 249(1) | 2020, p.167-211.

  • “The Nature of the Brazilian Flag: An Environmental Turn under Military Rule (1964-1985)”, Forum for InterAmerican Research, 13(1) | 2020, p.69-83.

  • “Historicizing Brazil's Great Acceleration”, Varia Historia, 34(65) | 2018. p.307-314. Co-authored with Georg Fischer.

  • “Nature, nation et histoire au pays du ‘développement’: les versions environnementales du passé brésilien”, Culture della Sostenibilità,  58 | 2018. p.48-59.

  • “Tales of the Transamazonian: Hopes and Disillusion on a Route of Ecological Migrations”, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (Oxford University Press), 24(2) | 2017. p.306-324. Co-authored with Nathalia Capellini.

  • “The Social Production of Nature Between Coloniality and Capitalism ”, Forum for InterAmerican Research, 9(2) | 2016. p.5-24. Co-authored with Olaf Kaltmeier and Anne Tittor.

  • Amazon.” InterAmerican Wiki: Terms - Concepts - Critical Perspectives. (2015). 

  • “The Greatest Fire on Earth: How VW and the Brazilian Military Regime Accidentally Helped to Turn the Amazon into a Global Political Arena”, Revista Brasileira de História, 34(68) | 2014. p.13-33.

  • “The Brand that Knows our Land: Volkswagen's ‘Brazilianization’ in the ‘Economic Miracle’ (1968-1973), MONDE(S). Histoire, Espaces, Relations, 5 | 2014. p.199-218.

  • “Trabalho forçado na fazenda da Volks: crônica de um escândalo amazônico na Alemanha” , Hendu – Revista Latinoamericana de Derechos Humanos, 4(1) | 2014, p.57-69. 

  • “Entre deux drapeaux : les ouvriers capverdiens au Portugal pendant la période révolutionnaire (1974-1976)”, Cadernos de Estudos Africanos, 21 | 2011, p.123-146.

Book Chapters

  • “Den Amazonas konsumieren” (“Consuming the Amazon”), in Stefan Peters et al., eds, Krisen-Klima: Umweltkonflikte aus lateinamerikanischer Perspektive. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2021, p.83-94.

  • “Nature”, in Anne Tittor et al., eds, The Routledge Handbook to the Political Economy and Governance of the Americas. London: Routledge, 2019, 418-432. Co-authored with Olaf Kaltmeier and Anne Tittor.

  • "Apesar deles: le développement d'une pensée environnementale dans le Brésil des militaires", in James N. Green & Mônica Raisa Schpun, eds, 1964: La dictature brésilienne et son legs, Le Poisson volant, 2018. p.230-255.

Book reviews

  • Review of Shawn William Miller, The Street Is Ours: Community, the Car, and the Nature of Public Space in Rio de Janeiro (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018). American Historical Review 125(2) | 2020.

  • Review of Eve E. Buckley, Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth Century Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Environmental History 23(4) | 2018.

  • "Modeling Time in the Amazon." Review of Jeremy M. Campbell, Conjuring Property. Speculation and Environmental Futures in the Brazilian Amazon (University of Washington Press). H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews, 2017. 

Outreach publications, media interventions and media reports

Antoine Acker

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