Leila Lehnen was born in Paris, France and grew up in Brazil, Germany, and India. She studied German literature at the Eberhard-Karls Universität, in Tübingen (Germany). She came to the United States on a study abroad program and completed a Masters in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle and a PhD at Vanderbilt University. Her research and teaching areas lie primarily in contemporary Brazilian and Latin American literature. Of particular interest to her is the intersection between social justice and cultural production. She has published on topics such as the representation of human rights in contemporary Afro-Brazilian literature, memory, literature and Brazil's military dictatorship, the interface between citizenship and literature among other themes. Leila Lehnen has taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of New Mexico and Macalester College. She is currently the Chair of the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University and the president of the American Portuguese Studies Association.