Luiz Vilaça

Luiz Vilaça
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Department of Sociology
  • Graduate Fellow (2020-2021)
  • Anti-corruption reform in Brazil

Luiz Vilaça is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and a Kellogg Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. His current work focuses on two questions. First, how do state organizations build autonomy and capacity to fight corruption? To answer this question, Vilaça examines the case of anti-corruption reform in Brazil, where investigative agencies managed to convict hundreds of corporate executives and politicians from multiple sectors of the state, in a case known as Operation Car Wash (CW). His dissertation compares CW with four failed anti-corruption investigations and draws on 81 original interviews with prosecutors, detectives, and judges, providing one of the first on-the-ground accounts of how federal investigators manage cases of grand corruption.

The second part of his dissertation examines the conditions under which prosecutors focus their attention on white-collar crime. Vilaça draws on interviews with Brazilian prosecutors to explain how they built a professional ethos focused on fighting white-collar criminals. He combines the qualitative study of Brazilian prosecutors with comparative historical analyses of prosecutors in the United States, Germany, and Italy.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Vilaça received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Brasília. His research has been published in Mobilization (forthcoming) and Information, Communication & Society.