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Volume 58 / Humanities

HISTORY: BRAZIL


DAIN BORGES, Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago
DAVID MCCREERY, Professor of History, Georgia State University
JOAN E. MEZNAR
, Associate Professor of History, Eastern Connecticut State University


COLONIAL PERIOD

SEVERAL RECENT GUIDES to archives supply valuable assistance to those engaged in research on colonial Brazil. A special issue of the journal Acervo highlights material related to Brazil in Portuguese archives (items #bi 98003893#, #bi 98003894#, #bi 98003895#, #bi 98003896#, and #bi 98003897#). Carlos de Araújo Moreira Neto's useful guide on Brazilian indigenous peoples describes materials housed in repositories in 11 Brazilian states and several European countries (item #bi 97004624#). In addition, Aluísio Fonseca de Castro has compiled an annotated guide to materials in the Arquivo Público do Pará dealing with indigenous labor (item #bi 98001485#).

Two excellent collections of essays bring together examples of some of the finest Brazilian historical scholarship. The beautifully produced and illustrated volume on private life in colonial Brazil edited by Fernando Novais demonstrates the continued rewards of exploring "everyday life" (item #bi 98004324#). João José Reis and Flávio dos Santos have also compiled outstanding essays from diverse interpretive perspectives on runaway slave communities throughout Brazil (item #bi 98009365#).

Interest in the role of religion and religious orders in shaping colonial society appears to be growing (items #bi 98001159#, #bi 98001200#, #bi 98002980#, #bi 98003298#, and #bi 98009380#). Thomas Cohen's work on Antonio Vieira situates Jesuit activity in Brazil within a broader international and cultural context (item #bi 98012129#). Inquisition records prove to be useful sources for insight into the world of Old Christians as well as New Christians in Rio de Janeiro (item #bi 97004615#) and northeast Brazil (items #bi 98009371# and #bi 98009375#).

While social and economic concerns continue to dominate research, Shawn Miller's article on fuelwood in Bahia demonstrates that addressing such environmental issues can enrich our understanding of the history of colonial Brazil (item #bi 97017962#). [JM]


NATIONAL PERIOD

Recent years have seen a publishing boom in general introductions to Brazil and surveys of Brazilian history, finally replacing out-of-print or outdated introductions, such as Wagley (see HLAS 27:2993) and Burns (see HLAS 34:2902). In Spanish, there is Iglesias on political history (item #bi 98008330#) and Queiroz on São Paulo (item #bi 98008333#). Offerings in English are richer. First, paperback compilations of the state-of-the-art essays in Bethell's Cambridge History of Latin America made available overviews of specific periods (see HLAS 52:2911 and HLAS 52:2981). Now there are introductions to contemporary Brazil by Page (item #bi 00006101#), Eakin (item #bi 00006100#) and Levine (item #bi 00006099#), and one-volume histories by Skidmore (item #bi 00004885#), Fausto (item #bi 00006098#), and Levine (item #bi 00000173#). The Brazil Reader, edited by Levine and Crocitti, provides a rich collection of documents and articles useful for students and general readers (item #bi 99008502#).

These introductory surveys suggest a poor fit between the general public's preoccupations and the concerns of professional historians. The surveys concentrate heavily on political history since 1930, economic development, and popular culture. Historians' research agendas and debates on Brazil since 1922 are vague, beyond a continuing fascination with Getúlio Vargas' reforms. Research agendas on 19th- and early 20th-century topics are much better defined, but aside from their concentration on marginal social types, they are not entirely oriented toward the topics emphasized in introductions to Brazil.

Social history continues to dominate recent historiographical production on the Empire and Old Republic, much of it in the form of revised mestrado and doctoral theses from the 1980s. "Marginals" occupy much of this attention. Several pieces, for example, look at the lives of foreign prostitutes and pimps (items #bi 97012238#, #bi 98008364#, and #bi 97008436#), street vendors in Salvador (item #bi 97007550#), and army recruits suspected of sodomy (item #bi 97012097#). Bretas' study of police in Rio examines social control from the perspective of elites and their agents (item #bi 97004179#). There is the usual attention to "popular resistance" in its varied forms: riots, e.g., Reis (item #bi 97007037#); rebels and revolts, e.g., da Cunha and Villa on Canudos (items #bi 97008403# and #bi 97008401#, respectively), Dias on the Balaiada (item #bi 98001210#), and Silveira on the Cabanagem (item #bi 98001206#); and lastly, Ferraz's linking of "enlightenment liberalism" and postindependence revolts in Pernambuco (item #bi 98001207#).

Groups viewed as slightly less deviant, but certainly more dangerous, were ex-slaves, the urban poor (item #bi 97008406#), and the incipient working class. Particularly impressive works on slavery are Xavier on ex-slaves before and after abolition (item #bi 98001216#) and Castro on meanings of "freedom" (item #bi 97008448#). Workers receive scant attention, other than Pesavento on Porto Alegre (item #bi 97008416#), essays in the two História econômica volumes (items #bi 98001218# and #bi 98001217#), and occasional mention in Chalhoub (item #bi 98001209#), Rocha (item #bi 97008415#), and Meade (item #bi 00000437#).

Only slightly less marginal than prostitutes and libertos were the European immigrants Brazil began to seek urgently after the end of the international slave trade in 1850 (see Graden, item #bi 97009382# and Chaiban, item #bi 97010870# on the end of the trade). The Portuguese, in their traditional roles as caixeiros and merchants, are the subject of two mestrado theses published as a book (item #bi 97008432#), but the Germans receive more attention, as colonists, in Rodowicz-Oswiecimsky's first-person narrative (item #bi 97008454#), in Seyferth's study of the Itajahy/Brusque colony (item #bi 97008423#), and as reluctant participants in the Federalist Revolution (item #bi 97008386#). Boni has organized a third volume in a series on the Italian immigration experience (item #bi 97008395#; for review of first two volumes, see HLAS 54:3402), and Lesser has a short piece on discontent Jewish farmers (item #bi 97007398#). Immigration, exile, and assimilation remain the strongest single topic in 20th-century social history, with many amateur and commemorative histories of communities. Of note are studies of Syrians (item #bi 97003174#), Jews (items #bi 98008303# and #bi 98008364#), Spaniards (items #bi 95021659#, #bi 98008353#, and #bi 98008365#), and Portuguese (item #bi 98008325#).

Slaves, of course, were anything but marginal to 19th-century Brazil (item #bi 97008444#) and continue to attract very much of the scholarly attention given the Empire. Interesting new studies address kinship, including two that focus on the Fazenda Resgate (items #bi 97008425# and #bi 97008404#), as well as others that describe how slaves and ex-slaves used kinship to make their lives better, or at least more tolerable (items #bi 98001213# and #bi 97008457#). Historians continue to write about slave resistance: Machado (item #bi 97008439#) on the turbulence of the 1880s, Araujo (item #bi 97008435#) and Gomes (item #bi 97008453#) on quilombos, and Mello (item #bi 97008445#) and Chasteen (item #bi 96008185#) on street culture and samba. Other entries on slavery treat health (item #bi 97010195#), slaves and ex-slaves in the army in general (item #bi 97007544#) and the Paraguayan War specifically (item #bi 97008458#), the attitudes of slaves and masters towards work (item #bi 97009990#), and freedmen's opportunities in life (item #bi 97009766#).

Many recent books cluster around the problem of turn-of-the-century reform in Brazilian cities, particularly in Rio de Janeiro. Meade (item #bi 00000437#), Chalboub (item #bi 98001209#), and Rocha (item #bi 97008415#) each address, in slightly different ways, the efforts of elites in the late Empire and Old Republic to "modernize" Rio de Janeiro by demolishing slum housing, undertaking public health campaigns, and, not incidentally, moving the poor out of the city's center. Lanna takes up these same topics for Santos (item #bi 97008387#), Lapa for Campinas (item #bi 97008427#), and Ponte for Fortaleza (item #bi 95021677#).

No clear central themes, other than immigration, emerge from the social history research on Brazil since 1922. Nevertheless, there were some excellent studies, such as Owensby on the middle class and its political mentalities in São Paulo and Rio (item #bi 00006102#) and the 20th-century essays in the outstanding collection on women since colonial times edited by Del Priore (item #bi 98008313#).

Although economic history continues to be, in general, a weak area in the study of Brazil, suffering from an absence of theory and a paucity of empirical research, several exceptional works have appeared recently. These include Florentinos' history of the Africa-Rio de Janeiro slave trade (item #bi 97008404#), papers in the Congresso volumes (items #bi 98001218# and #bi 98001217#), Motta's analysis of the marginalization of small-scale coffee producers in early-19th century São Paulo (item #bi 97010197#), and Takeya's extensively researched and beautifully produced analysis of French trade and investment in Ceará (item #bi 97008383#). Caldeira describes the activities of Mauá (item #bi 97003182#), Barickman compares the sugar industries of Bahia and Pernambuco (item #bi 00000436#), Galliza analyzes modernization in Paraiba (item #bi 97008393#), and Aleixo studies sugar in turn-of-the-century Mato Grosso (item #bi 97008520#). Schulz offers a new look at the Encilhamento (item #bi 98001214#). Economic topics in 20th-century Brazil were treated mainly as they drifted into labor history, in Weinstein's notable study of industrial policy and vocational training (item #bi 00006116#), Antonacci's revised thesis on the IDORT (item #bi 98008352#), and Welch's solid monograph on rural labor unions (item #bi 00006104#).

Apart from Chasteen's deservedly well-received study of border politics at the end of the century (item #bi 97003733#) and Topik's entry in the generally neglected arena of US-Brazil relations (item #bi 97002760#), this has not been a particularly good biennium for political history. Azevedo compares abolitionist ideologies more than politics (item #bi 97003169#). The coronéis are still with us, at least on the frontier (items #bi 98001211# and #bi 97008417#) and pursuing the Prestes Column (item #bi 98008319#), while Schulz provides a useful overview of army politics after the Paraguayan War (item #bi 97008446#). Debe's as yet incomplete life of Washington Luis is the best of an unpromising crop of political biographies (item #bi 97008437#), though Faria does use the career of Joaquim Murtinho to highlight the emptiness of Old Republic politics (item #bi 97008390#). But the field suffers broadly from a shortage of both serious monographs and interpretive writing, and the inadequacies of the political and economic history available for the Empire/Old Republic in turn make it difficult to adequately and effectively undertake the study of recent favorites: social history and history of memory and the "imagination."

Political history of Brazil since 1922 continues to focus on the Vargas eras. There is a useful biographical essay on Vargas, well fitted for teaching, by Levine (item #bi 98003686#) and a cluster of biographies of Oswaldo Aranha as ideologue and diplomat (items #bi 98008373#, #bi 98008318#, and #bi 98008327#). Vargas' propaganda policies continue to attract interest (items #bi 98008351# and #bi 98008371#). Almost all serious work on politics between 1930-64 is based on the CPDOC archives—much of it, in fact, is sponsored by CPDOC; opening of the secret police archives will broaden perspectives (item #bi 98008302#). Aside from the essays in Gomes (item #bi 98008376#), work on Vargas is still largely apologetic or accusatory. Historical work on politics after 1964 is scarce. Welch on São Paulo rural labor unions is a notable exception (item #bi 00006104#). Soares and D'Araujo on regime policies (item #bi 98008326#) and Sosnowski and Schwartz on culture under authoritarianism (item #bi 97003156#) collect multidisciplinary research.

Historians and anthropologists made some important contributions to understanding 20th- century religious change. Souza on Paraty (item #bi 98008361#) and Nagle on Recife (item #bi 00006105#) view social and political change through festivals. Marin attempts to debunk the image of Helder Câmara as a reforming archbishop (item #bi 97003152#), and Lehmann makes an outstanding comparison of Pentecostal and Catholic social and political messages (item #bi 00006106#), as does Chesnut in a fine study of Pentecostal converts and church politics in Belém since 1910 (item #bi 99002344#).

Historians were willing to study themselves this biennium. Studies of intellectuals, the professions, and historiography in the 20th century were abundant. Publication of memoirs by Calmon (item #bi 98008342#), correspondence by Rodrigues (item #bi 98008362#), political papers of Freyre (item #bi 98008321#) and Ramos (item #bi 98008350#), and field notes by Azevedo (item #bi 98008331#), added evidence. Gomes provides an interesting study of historians during the Estado Novo (item #bi 98008351#), and Gutfreind does likewise in her study of Rio Grande regionalists (item #bi 97003177#). The second volume of Miceli's team research on social science institutions (item #bi 98008317#) is a valuable contribution, as is Schwarcz's intriguing study on racial ideas in museums and cultural institutes (item #bi 00006103#). [DB and DM]


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