Celso Furtado

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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Celso Monteiro Furtado was born on 26 July 1920, in the town of Pombal, Paraíba, to Maurício Medeiros Furtado and Maria Alice Monteiro Furtado.

In 1927, the family moved to the city of Parayba (nowadays João Pessoa), the state capital.

He began his secondary schooling at the Liceu Paraibano (Paraiba Lyceum), in 1932, finishing it at Ginásio Pernambucano, in Recife, PE.

In 1939, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, enrolling, in 1940, in the Faculty of Law of the University of Brazil’s, today called the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, going to work as a journalist at the Revista da Semana (Weekly Magazine).

He passed a public contest for the Administrative Department of the Public Service (DASP), in 1943, as an organisation assistant, carrying out his role in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói, and publishing his first articles in the Revista do Serviço Público (Public Service Magazine).

He graduated Law, in 1944, and enlisted in the Officer Preparation Centre of the Reserves (CPOR), being called the same year to the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, (FEB), heading to Italy, in 1945, as an aspiring officer.

He studied at the London School of Economics (1947) and completed his doctorate at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, in 1948.

Upon returning to Brazil, he recommenced his job at DASP and together with economists from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), began to work on the magazine Conjuntura Econômica (Economic Conjecture).

He married Lucia Tosi and, in 1949, moved to Santiago, Chile as a member of the Economic Commision for Latin Americal, (CEPAL), an organ of the United Nations (UN).

In 1954, he published A economia brasileira: contribuição à análise de seu desenvolvimento (The Brazilian Economy: Contribution to the Analysis of its Development), his first book in the economics field.

Until 1957, he accomplished various technical missions of CEPAL, as Director of the Development Division, in a number of countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Costa Rica, also visiting North-American universities to debate theories of development.

He spent a year from 1957-1958 studying at King’s College, at the University of Cambridge, England, where he wrote his most well-known work Formação econômica do Brasil (Economic Formation of Brazil).

Returning to Brazil, he left CEPAL, assuming the directorship of the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico (National Bank of Economic Development) (BNDE) and, in 1959, developed the Plano de Desenvolvimento do Nordeste (Northeast Brazil Development Plan), which lead to the creation of the Superintendência de Desenvolvimento do Nordeste (Superintendence of Northeast Brazil Development) (Sudene), with its headquarters in Recife, of which he was the first superintendent.

In 1962, he was named Minister of Planning in the João Goulart government, though he left the post the following year and returned to the superintendence of Sudene.

With the Military Coup of 1964, he had his political rights suspended for ten years, through the Ato Institucional nº 5 (Instituctional Act no 5), also known as AI-5.

Exiled, he gave lectures in Santiago, was a researcher at the Institute for Development Studies at Yale University, in the United States, and gave lectures in various North-American universities, moving to France, in 1965, at the invitation of the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he taught for twenty years. He was the first foreigner nominated by presidential decree for a French university.

From 1979, when the Amnesty Law was passed, he frequently returned to Brazil, marrying, for the second time, journalist Rosa Freire d’Aguiar.

He became affiliated, in August 1981, to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), which had been created in November 1979.

He was appointed as Minister of Culture in the José Sarney government, in March 1986, managing to have the first law giving fiscal incentives to Brazilian culture passed, known as Lei Sarney (Sarney’s Law).

In 1988, however, he resigned the ministry and returned to his academic activities both at home and abroad, working on various international commissions.

He received Honorary Doctorates  from the following universities: Técnica de Lisboa (1987); Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp, 1990); Federal de Brasília (1991); Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (1994); Federal da Paraíba (1996); Université Pierre Mendès-France, of Grenoble, France (1996); Estadual do Ceará (2001); Estadual de São Paulo (Unesp, 2002); Federal do Rio de Janeiro (2002).

In August 1997, he was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, occupying chair nº 11 and, in the same year, the Third World Academy of Sciences, based in Triestre, Italy, created the Celso Furtado Prize, to be given, every two years, to a social scientist from the Third World.

In 2001, The Carlos Chagas Foundation for Research Support, from Rio de Janeiro instituted another award, the Prêmio Celso Furtado de desenvolvimento (Celso Furtado Development Award).

In 2003, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics and, in 2004, was honoured at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD ).

Celso Furtado is the author of, among others, the following works: Contos da vida expedicionária: de Nápoles a Paris (From Naples to Paris – Tales of the Expeditionary Life:)  (fiction, 1946); A economia brasileira: contribuição à análise de seu desenvolvimento (The Brazilian Economy: Contribution to the Analysis of its Development) (1954); Uma economia dependente (A Dependent Economy) (1956); Formação econômica do Brasil (The Economic Growth of Brazil) (1959); Uma política para o desenvolvimento econômico do Nordeste (A Policy for Economic Development of Northeast Brazil) (1959); Desenvolvimento e subdesenvolvimento (Development and Underdevelopment) (1961); A pré-revolução brasileira (Brazil: What Kind of Revolution?) (1965); Subdesenvolvimento e estagnação na América Latina (Obstacles to Development in Latin America) (1966); Teoria e política do desenvolvimento econômico (Theory and Policy of Economic Development) (1967); Formação econômica da América Latina (The Economic Growth of Latin America) (1969); Um projeto para o Brasil (A Project for Brazil) (1970); O mito do desenvolvimento econômico (The Myth of Economic Development) (1974); O Brasil pós-”milagre”(Post-‘Miracle’ Brazil)  (1981); Não à recessão e ao desemprego (No to Recession and Unemployment) (1983); A nova dependência, dívida externa e monetarismo(1985); A fantasia organizada (The Organised Fantasy) (1985); Transformação e crise na economia mundial (Transformation and Crisis in the World Economy) (1987); ABC da dívida externa (The ABC to Foreign Debt) (1989); A fantasia desfeita (The Fantasy Undone) (1989); Os ares do mundo (The Airs of the World) (1991); Brasil, a construção interrompida (Brazil, the Interrupted Construction) (1995); Seca e poder (Drought and Power) (1998); O capitalismo global (Global Capitalism) (1999).

Celso Furtado died from a heart attack on the morning of 20 November 2004, at the age of 84, in is home in the Copacabana neighbourhood, Rio de Janeiro. His body lay in state at the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Recife, 26 November 2004.
(Updated on 25 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.





 ACADEMIA Brasileira de Letras: os acadêmicos. Disponível em: <http://www.academia.org.br>. Acesso em: 25 nov. 2004.

BLOCH, Israel; ABREU, Alzira Alves de (Coord.). Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro: 1930-1983. Rio de janeiro: Forense Universitária; FGV/CPDOC; Finep, 1984. v. 2.

CELSO Furtado [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <http://www.academia.org.br/academicos/celso-furtado/bibliografia>.  Acesso em: 19 jul. 2017.






Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Celso Furtado. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.


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