Andrea Daher

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Paris IAS
5 months


Research interests: Cultural and Intellectual History, in particular the history of representation practices focused on the uses of writing and its relationship with orality in modern and contemporary times.

Research Project

In the land of the blind: the translator, the philosopher and the librarian

In the evidence provided by the voluminous work of blind intellectuals of the 19th and 20th century, this research project intends to account for the specific modalities of intellectual processes in circumstances in which orality governs the constitution of the literate habitus, allowing the construction of the figures of blind translator, philosopher and librarian in their historical and sociological dimension. First, the translator is the Portuguese poet António Feliciano de Castilho, whose translation of Goethe’s Faust appears in 1872, triggering an intense controversy. The explicit mentions of his blindness in the polemical-critical corpus constitute a kind of moral affront, in the attack on the universal figure of the blind poet. Secondly, the philosopher is Pierre Villey, the great expert on 16th-century French literature, in particular on Montaigne. He also dedicated many texts to the intellectual work of the blind, unveiled from his own experience. Thirdly, in the figure of the librarian there is a triad of blind or partially sighted intellectuals, successively raised to the direction of the National Library of Argentina: José Marmól, Paul Groussac and Jorge Luis Borges, all of them writers, with consolidated works, before being librarians.

The “fate of the three blind librarians”, as Borges writes, opens the way for the treatment of the social relationship of the blind with the book object, inscribing it in a long-term history.


Andrea Daher is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of History at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and Researcher at the National Research Council of Brazil (CNPq) since 2006. PhD in History from École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 1995, she was Associate Professor at the University of São Paulo (USP) from 1995 to 1997; Full Professor at UFRJ, from 1998 to 2018; and Visiting Professor at the University of Brasília in 2020-2022. Her publications include Les Singularités de la France Equinoxiale (2002), L’Oralité perdue (2016), and the direction of collective works, including Oral por escrito (2018). She held Alfonse Dupront Chair (2010) and Sergio Buarque de Hollanda Chair in Social Sciences of Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (2010-2014) at Paris-Sorbonne University.

At UFRJ, she was responsible for academic exchange activities in social sciences, such as Claude Bernard Chair, in partnership with Collège de France and French Academy of Sciences. She supervised a significant number of Master’s, Doctoral and Post-doctoral Thesis at the Graduate Program in Social History. As Coordinator of the Research Laboratory in the History of Literary Practices at the Institute of History of UFRJ, she works in the promotion of national and international networks of historians and social scientists.