Stephen Bell

Membership:  2011

Member Bio

Stephen Bell is a historical geographer whose work has mainly concerned the transformation of the Americas, especially Brazil, since around 1800. Following undergraduate studies at the School of Geography at Oxford University, his graduate and postgraduate work took him to the Universities of Toronto and McGill. Since 1999, he has taught at UCLA in Los Angeles, where he is currently an associate professor of geography and history, with his main base in the Department of Geography. He is also a very active contributor within this university’s Latin American Institute. Bell’s current major project examines the historical geography of Brazil between 1850 and 1950.
During the period of his fellowship, Bell focused on writing two articles on the intellectual heritage of the German geographer Leo Waibel (1888-1951) and his field work for the federal government of Brazil during the years 1946-50. His first article reviews the steps that brought this German scholar from Bonn to fieldwork in Brazil, and a second article reassesses the results from his findings in the period 1946-50, partly in the light of subsequent Brazilian development patterns. Bell also gave a talk on Waibel at the Geographical Institute in Bonn, the institution his subject directed before 1937. Immediately following his fellowship, Bell completed his German archival research on Waibel within the Geographical Institute of the University of Tuebingen.


  • A Life in Shadow: Aimé Bonpland in Southern South America, 1817-1858. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.
  • "Individual Agency and Ecological Imperialism: Aimé Bonpland in Southern South America." In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental History in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by Christian Brannstrom, 247-72. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.
  • Campanha Gaúcha: A Brazilian Ranching System, 1850-1920. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.
  • "Aime Bonpland and Merinomania in Southern South America." The Americas 51, no. 3 (1995): 301-23.
  • "Early Industrialization in the South Atlantic: Political Influences on the Charqueadas of Rio Grande do Sul Before 1860." Journal of Historical Geography 19, no. 4 (1993): 399-411.