Recebido hoje, 4/04/2021:
Dear friends of Frank McCann,
Forgive me for using one of Frank's email's to you but I want this to be published in a number of places in his honor. Here are my memories of Frank in the attachment below.
Martha K. Huggins
Memories of Frank McCann, my mentor, by Martha K. Huggins:
This is a very difficult memory to write without crying. I learned that Frank had died on Good Friday late the next evening through a letter from UC Berkeley historian Linda Lewin. I slept fitfully having lost an academic and intellectual mentor and friend of 47 years.
My first contact with Frank was in a c.1973 in a University of New Hampshire graduate seminar that he taught on “Comparative Slave Systems.” Frank opened my eyes to Brazil and deepened my understanding of histories that I had never before been taught. Frank’s course and his careful analysis of slaves’ lives, their enforced labor, their inequitably managed religious participation and their many forms of resistance to the brutal management of their lives in the structured slave systems of Brazil, Haiti, and the U.S. South. What Frank had taught me academically and through his teaching and mentoring shaped my future teaching, mentoring, and research. Frank’s UNH seminar on slavery guided my later doctoral dissertation research (1975-1977) on slavery in Pernambuco. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Frank McCann was first and foremost my intellectual mentor. As a professor of history Frank carried his love of Brazil, accompanied by his wife Diane McCann, into their home: After teaching a seminar on Brazil students would be invited to the McCann home to meet the newest Brazilian or Brazilianist in town. We would talk while eating Brazilian food and enjoying Brazilian music. There was a Brazilian rede for relaxing in Frank and Diane’s living room; I once shared it collegially with another recently deceased, brilliant, and much loved ‘Branilianist,’
Frank firmly believed that researching in Brazil was impossible without knowing Brazil’s food and other essential aspects of Brazilian culture. When I missed a lecture or other ‘Brazil event’ hosted by Frank at UNH the next day as Frank passed me in the hall that linked the Sociology Department (my major) to the History Department, Frank would kindly admonish me: “Dee Dee, Dee Dee!, you missed seeing ‘Fulano de Tal’s’ lecture on Colonial Brazil but he’s coming to dinner at our house tonight, can you attend?” A soft nudge backed by a dinner invitation was an important component of Frank’s mentoring.
In 1974 I applied for a Latin American Teaching Fellowship (LATF) funded by Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Ford Foundation. I did not know at the time that several Brazil-related scholars had been asked by the Ford Foundation if they knew me and my work; each had said that they had no knowledge of me or my work (Information obtained by a graduate student in a research seminar directed by Historian Elizabeth Cancelli (University of São Paulo (USP), Department of History). Fortuitously, Frank McCann ran into the recruiter for the LATF fellowship lunching at a table on the sidewalk near the Copacabana Palace. Frank sat down with the recruiter and talked with him about my application. Frank’s apparently solid recommendation launched my career as a “Brazilianist.” Mentoring counts and so do chance encounters!
In Recife, between 1975 and 1977—teaching at the University Federal de Pernambuco and researching for my dissertation—published in 1985 as, From Slavery to Vagrancy in Brazil: Social Control and Crime in the Third World(Rutgers University, 1984) -- I often wrote Frank with questions and thoughts as my research broadened to include historical papers and the prison logs of the Casa de Detenção do Recife—then housed at the Ilha de Itamaracá. When my book was published in 1984 Frank expressed great pride about my publication and said that it was an ‘important’ contribution to scholarship on slavery. I especially appreciated Frank’s opinion because Frank and I had very different theoretical and disciplinary foci and training. In contrast, a well-known historian of slavery wrote briefly in his review of From Slavery to Vagrancy: “Do not read this book.” That was literally all the reviewers said. Mentoring requires patience and an acceptance of differences: Frank McCann practiced both.
I credit Frank McCann with any success that I have had in my 42-years as a Brazilianist. As a sociologist who takes a critical criminology approach to social control by government agents, I feared that Frank would have serious reservations about the “academic quality” of From Slavery to Vagrancy in Brazil. But as always Frank McCann was supportive and encouraging.
I have carried with me throughout my career a respect for Frank McCann’s carefully researched and well-written books, his intellectual teaching, and his intense attention to student research and writing. I think of Frank McCann every time I work with students, conduct my own research, and write about what I have learned from research—to be honest, thorough, and inside the lives of those I study.
Dear, Dear Frank, I shall miss you. Abraços de Dee Dee (Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021