Assistant Professor
Phone number
Room number
524 W. 59th Street, New York, NY 10019, 9th floor, Room 9.65.29

PhD, University of Michigan (2018, History)

MA, University of Michigan (2014, History)

LLM, University of Michigan Law School (2009, Law)

LLB, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (2007, Law)


Pedro Cantisano is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the department's Law and Society major.  He is a legal historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century Latin America, focusing on sociolegal histories of cities, social movements, and public health. He has published in English and Portuguese on slavery and freedom suits, and on the role of police powers and rights consciousness in Brazil’s 1904 anti-vaccination revolt.

His current book project Confronting the Common Good is about law, science, and popular protest in Brazil. It argues that contested public health and urban transformations in early-twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro changed how Brazilians imagined the balance between individual rights and the common good. Based on previously untouched court records and on a sociolegal reading of law books and newspapers, the book unpacks a web of legal and scientific ideas and practices, revealing how legal professionals, scientists, and urban dwellers envisioned rights, the common good, and the relationship between them.


Cantisano's work has been supported by the American Society for Legal History Wallace Johnson Program for First Book Authors, the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory postdoctoral fellowship, and the Fundação Getulio Vargas – FGV Law School Fellows in Rio program. Before joining the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, he taught at FGV Law School, Kenyon College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

JJC Affiliations
Law and Society major
Courses Taught

Current courses

Introduction to Law and Society

Scholarly Work

"A Refuge from Science: The Practice and Politics of Rights in Brazil's Vaccine Revolt," Hispanic American Historical Review 102:4 (2022)

"Legal Reasoning in a Slave Society (Brazil, 1860-1888)," co-authored, Law and History Review 36:3 (2018)

Selected publications in Portuguese

"A ordem subterrânea do direito liberal," in Bacha, Carvalho, Falcão, Trindade, Mala & Schwartzman (eds.), 130 Anos: Em Busca da República (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Intrínseca, 2019) [This collection of essays won Brazil's Jabuti book prize, social sciences category]

"Direito, Propriedade e Reformas Urbanas: Rio de Janeiro, 1903-1906," Revista Estudos Históricos 29:58 (2016)

"Lares, Tribunais e Ruas: A inviolabilidade de domicílio e a Revolta da Vacina," Revista Direito & Práxis 6:2 (2015)

Book reviews

Escravidão e direito: o estatuto jurídico dos escravos no Brasil oitocentista (1860-1888) (São Paulo: Alameda, 2019) by Mariana Armond Dias PaesEsclavages & Post-Esclavages / Slaveries & Post-Slaveries 5 (2021)

The Housing Movement and the Urban Poor in São Paulo: Agency, Structure, and Institutionalization by Ryohei Konta (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2020), Luso-Brazilian Review 59:1 (2022)

Honors and Awards

Distinction, Preliminary Examinations, Department of History, University of Michigan (2014)

Merit Award for Oustanding Performance in Critical Race Theory, Univeristy of Michigan Law School (2009)