Famous Brazilian Intellectuals & Academics

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Brazilian Intellectuals & Academics

 1 
Paulo Freire
(Educator and Philosopher)

Paulo Freire
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Birthdate: September 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Recife, Brazil
Died: May 2, 1997
An advocate of critical consciousness as a form of pedagogy, Paulo Freire grew up amid abject poverty in a Depression-hit Brazil. Remembered for his iconic work Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the revered educator who supported dialogic education had also won accolades such as the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.

 2 
Edir Macedo
(Television evangelist, founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God)

Edir Macedo
5
Birthdate: February 18, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rio das Flores, RJ, Brazil

Edir Macedo is a Brazilian evangelical bishop, writer, and billionaire businessman. He is the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) and the co-owner of RecordTV, the third-largest TV network in Brazil. He began his career as a civil servant before moving to a religious career. He has been accused of racism and misogyny. 

 3 
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
(Sociologist & Politician who served as the 34th president of Brazil)

Fernando Henrique Cardoso
3
Birthdate: June 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso is a Brazilian politician who served as the 34th president of Brazil from 1995 to 2002. Qualified as a sociologist, he pursued a successful academic career before joining politics. His tenure as the president brought about major advancements in institutional human rights. He also implemented multiple reforms to address poverty and inequality in the country. 

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 4 
Aécio Neves
(Economist, Politician)

Aécio Neves
3
Birthdate: March 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Belo Horizonte

Aécio Neves is a Brazilian economist turned politician. He is the former president of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and was the 17th governor of Minas Gerais. He is currently a member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. He was born into a family of politicians and has been the subject of many controversies, including corruption charges. 

 5 
Gilberto Freyre
(Sociologist)

Gilberto Freyre
2
Birthdate: March 15, 1900
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Recife, Brazil
Died: July 18, 1987

Gilberto Freyre was a Brazilian anthropologist, sociologist, painter, writer, historian, and journalist. He is best remembered for his sociological treatise titled Casa-Grande & Senzala, which is translated as The Masters and the Slaves. This book caused a revolution in Brazil and helped create a modern Brazil.

 6 
Roberto Mangabeira Unger
(Philosopher, Politician)

Roberto Mangabeira Unger
4
Birthdate: March 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Roberto Mangabeira Unger is a Brazilian philosopher and politician best known for his book Politics: A Work in Constructive Social Theory. His research in classical social theory and pragmatism has been developed across the fields of legal theory, philosophy, and economics. As a politician, he is credited with having helped Brazil transition to democracy after the military regime. 

 7 
Leonardo Boff
(Catholic priest, Theologian, Writer)

Leonardo Boff
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Concórdia

Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian theologian and philosopher writer. He was formerly a Catholic priest and actively supported Latin American liberation theology. As a young man, he entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained a Catholic priest after a few years. He worked as an educator in the academic fields of theology, ethics, and philosophy for many years. 

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José Bonifácio de Andrada
2
Birthdate: June 13, 1763
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Santos, State of São Paulo, Brazil
Died: April 6, 1838

José Bonifácio de Andrada was a Brazilian statesman. He was also a naturalist, mineralist, and professor. He was a significant proponent of Brazilian independence and also spearheaded the abolition project in Brazil. He was of the opinion that a new national capital should be created in Brazil's underdeveloped interior. As a naturalist, he discovered four new minerals. 

 9 
Carlos Chagas
(Physician)

Carlos Chagas
0
Birthdate: July 9, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oliveira, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Died: November 8, 1934

Carlos Chagas was a Brazilian sanitary physician and bacteriologist. Also a clinician and researcher, he discovered Chagas disease, also called American trypanosomiasis, in 1909. He was working at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro at that time. He was also the first to discover the parasitic fungal genus Pneumocystis. He founded a nursing school as well. 

 10 
Euclides da Cunha
(Journalist)

Euclides da Cunha
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cantagalo, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died: August 15, 1909

Euclides da Cunha was a Brazilian engineer and journalist. He attended Escola Militar da Praia Vermelha as a young man. He then studied civil engineering and began his career as a journalist. He was elected to the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) in 1903. He was murdered by his wife’s affair partner in 1909. 

 11 

Gonçalves Dias
1
Birthdate: August 10, 1823
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Caxias, State of Maranhão, Brazil
Died: November 3, 1864

Gonçalves Dias was a Brazilian lawyer, poet, playwright, ethnographer, and linguist. A major figure of Brazilian Romanticism, he is credited with having composed Canção do exílio, often considered the best known poem of Brazilian literature. He was posthumously awarded the title of national poet of Brazil and is the patron of the 15th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. 

 12 
Celso Furtado
(Economist)

Celso Furtado
1
Birthdate: July 26, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: State of Paraíba, Brazil
Died: November 20, 2004

Celso Furtado was a Brazilian economist counted amongst the most distinguished intellectuals during the 20th century. He focused on issues related to development and underdevelopment in peripheral countries throughout the world. Along with Raúl Prebisch, he is regarded as one of the main formulators of economic structuralism. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2004. 

 13 
Milton Santos
(Geographer)

Milton Santos
0
Birthdate: May 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brotas de Macaúbas, State of Bahia, Brazil
Died: June 24, 2001

Milton Santos was a Brazilian geographer and geography scholar. He is known for his pioneering works in numerous branches of geography, primarily urban development in developing countries. In his home country, he is revered as the father of critical geography. He was honored with the Vautrin Lud Prize, often regarded as geography's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.  

 14 
Ruy Barbosa
(Polymath)

Ruy Barbosa
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1849
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Salvador, State of Bahia, Brazil
Died: March 1, 1923

Ruy Barbosa was a Brazilian writer, diplomat, jurist, and politician. He was a staunch defender of civil liberties and called for the abolition of slavery in Brazil. He represented Brazil in the second Hague convention and argued for Brazil's participation in World War I on the side of the Allies. He wanted Brazil to be more involved in the war. 

 15 
Caio Narcio
(Politician)

Caio Narcio
2
Birthdate: August 21, 1986
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Uberlândia, Brazil
Died: August 16, 2020

Caio Narcio was a Brazilian politician who served as a state representative from Minas Gerais from 2015 to 2019. The son of politicians, he was exposed to politics at an early age. He graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais before beginning his political career. Sadly, he died during the Covid-19 pandemic at the young age of 33.  

 16 
Cláudio Villas-Boas
(Anthropologist)

Cláudio Villas-Boas
1
Birthdate: December 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Botucatu, State of São Paulo, Brazil
Died: March 1, 1998

Cláudio Villas-Boas was a Brazilian activist for indigenous peoples. Along with his brothers, Orlando and Leonardo, he succeeded in getting the entire upper Xingu—a massive indigenous area—legally protected. The brothers were considered pioneers in indigenous activism in many ways. Claudio and Orlando were jointly awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s gold medal in 1967. 

 17 
Hélder Câmara
(Catholic Archbishop)

Hélder Câmara
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fortaleza, State of Ceará, Brazil
Died: August 27, 1999

Hélder Câmara was a Brazilian Catholic archbishop. He was a self-identified socialist and an advocate of liberation theology. He served as the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife from 1964 to 1985, during the military dictatorship in Brazil. He did social and political work for the upliftment of the poor and was declared a Servant of God in 2015. 

 18 
Ruth Cardoso
(Anthropologist)

Ruth Cardoso
1
Birthdate: September 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Araraquara, Brazil
Died: June 24, 2008

Ruth Cardoso was a Brazilian anthropologist. She was a member of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters, and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo (FFLCH-USP). She was married to politician Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who served as the 34th President of Brazil. With him, she co-founded the research institute Cebrap. She was also the author of several influential books. 

 19 
Américo Castro
(Historian)

Américo Castro
1
Birthdate: May 4, 1885
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cantagalo, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died: July 25, 1972

Américo Castro was a Spanish cultural historian. He is remembered for challenging some of the prevailing notions of Spanish identity and raising controversy with his conclusions. He graduated from the University of Granada and pursued an academic career, becoming a professor at the University of Madrid. He later taught at the University of Texas and Princeton University.   

 20 
Arolde de Oliveira
(Politician)

Arolde de Oliveira
1
Birthdate: March 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: São Luiz Gonzaga, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Died: October 21, 2020

Arolde de Oliveira was a Brazilian soldier, economist, and politician who served as the federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro for nine consecutive terms from 1986 to 2019. He was strongly opposed to same-sex marriages. He was chosen to be a federal senator in 2019. He died in the middle of his tenure during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.  

 21 
Herbert de Souza
(Sociologist)

Herbert de Souza
1
Birthdate: November 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: State of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Died: August 9, 1997

Herbert Jose "Betinho" de Souza was a sociologist who actively fought against economic injustice and government corruption in Brazil.  He launched the Movement for Ethics in Politics and founded the Brazilian Institute of Social Analysis and Economics (IBASE). The Betinho Prize is offered by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in his honor. 

 22 
Roberto Campos
(Economist)

Roberto Campos
1
Birthdate: April 17, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cuiabá, State of Mato Grosso, Brazil
Died: October 9, 2001

Roberto Campos was a Brazilian economist, writer, and diplomat. He studied philosophy and theology at a seminary in Belo Horizonte and entered the Brazilian Foreign Service. He served in numerous capacities as a diplomat, including Brazilian ambassador to the United Kingdom and the United States. He was also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. 

 23 
José Comblin
(Theologian)

José Comblin
1
Birthdate: March 22, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: March 27, 2011

José Comblin was a theologian. He has a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of Leuven. He worked as an advisor to the Young Catholic Workers and was a professor at the Dominican Theological School in São Paulo. He played a major role in the creation of rural seminaries in Pernambuco and Paraíba. He authored around 65 books. 

 24 

Angela von Nowakonski
1
Birthdate: February 2, 1953
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hospital da PUC-Campinas, Campinas, State of São Paulo, Brazil
Died: July 17, 2020

Angela von Nowakonski was a Brazilian physician who worked as a professor at the Unicamp's Institute of Clinical Pathology. She played a major role in training the residents of Clinical Pathology and Infectology at the Clinical Pathology Division of Unicamp. Angela von Nowakonski died at the age of 67 after contracting COVID-19 in 2020. 

 25 
Carlos Lessa
(Economist)

Carlos Lessa
1
Birthdate: July 30, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died: June 5, 2020

Carlos Lessa was a Brazilian economist and academician. He was born into a wealthy family and received his doctorate in human sciences from the University of Campinas. He had a brilliant academic career at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Rio Branco Institute. He also served as president of the Brazilian Development Bank. 

 26 

Capistrano de Abreu
0
Birthdate: October 23, 1853
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Maranguape, State of Ceará, Brazil
Died: August 13, 1927

Capistrano de Abreu was a Brazilian historian best remembered for his work Capítulos de História Colonial, which continues to serve as an important reference for those who study Brazilian history. As a historian, Capistrano de Abreu was well-known for investigating the sources rigorously to achieve utmost accuracy.

 27 

Barbosa Lima Sobrinho
0
Birthdate: January 22, 1897
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Recife, Brazil
Died: July 16, 2000

Barbosa Lima Sobrinho was a Brazilian writer, essayist, lawyer, historian, journalist, and politician. He wrote more than 70 books and served as one of the most important members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. In the late 1990s, Barbosa Lima Sobrinho became the oldest active journalist, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

 28 

Dinaldo Wanderley
0
Birthdate: June 20, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Patos, Paraíba, Brazil
Died: May 24, 2020

Dinaldo Wanderley was a Brazilian lawyer, politician, and economist. He is best remembered for serving as the Mayor of Patos from 1997 to 2004. Dinaldo Wanderley is also known as the father of Dinaldinho, the current Mayor of Patos.

 29 

Jose de Oliveira Fernandes
0
Birthdate: December 1, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Careiro, State of Amazonas, Brazil
Died: October 12, 2020

José de Oliveira Fernandes was a Brazilian economist, politician, and professor. He is best remembered for his service as the mayor of Manaus from 1979 to 1982. As a professor, Fernandes has taught at prestigious institutions like Federal University of Amazonas. He died at the age of 76 due to COVID-19.

 30 
Vilém Flusser
(Philosopher, Writer & Journalist)

Vilém Flusser
0
Birthdate: May 12, 1920
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: November 27, 1991

Vilém Flusser was a Czech-born Brazilian philosopher and writer. Born into a family of Jewish intellectuals, he enrolled at the Juridical Faculty of Charles University in Prague. Most of his family was killed during the Holocaust. He survived and went on to pursue an academic career. He wrote many books, including the vastly popular Towards a Philosophy of Photography. 

 31 
Peter Wilhelm Lund
(Paleontologist, Zoologist, Archeologist)

Peter Wilhelm Lund
0
Birthdate: June 14, 1801
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: May 25, 1880

Peter Wilhelm Lund was a Danish paleontologist, zoologist, and archeologist. He spent most of his life working in Brazil and is considered the father of Brazilian paleontology as well as archaeology. He became the first person to describe dozens of species of pre-historic Pleistocene megafauna and discovered the fossilized remains of human beings among the remains of long-extinct species. 

 32 
Wagner Lamounier
(Economist and Musician)

Wagner Lamounier
0
Birthdate: April 30, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Wagner Lamounier is a Brazilian musician and economist. He is best known as the original vocalist of the popular heavy metal band Sepultura. He is also credited with creating and leading the band Sarcófago from 1985 to 2000. Sarcófago continues to be revered by death metal fans for having influenced the most extreme spectrum of heavy metal music worldwide.