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Volume 60 / 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

THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF Cabral's South American landfall has reinvigorated work on the Portuguese voyages of exploration and the early years of European presence in Brazil. New work on Pedro Álvares Cabral, for example, situates his life and accomplishments in the broader context of the European Renaissance (items #bi2003001352# and #bi2003001389#). The first decades of the 16th century also provide the parameters for several anthologies of primary source material, including letters from sailors and early descriptions of the new land (items #bi2003001337# and #bi2003001327#). International conferences on themes related to the Portuguese voyages generated several volumes illustrating some of the best recent scholarship on the colonial experience. Examples of transatlantic scholarly collaborations include a volume of papers presented at a conference in Lisbon on slavery in colonial Brazil (item #bi2003001379#), a volume on the Dutch presence in 17th-century Brazil based on papers from a conference held in Recife, Brazil (item #bi2003001360#), and a volume of essays on European views of colonial Brazil produced in France (item #bi2003001340#).

Recent publications demonstrate promising signs of innovation and vigor, particularly on the part of a productive group of Brazilian scholars anchored in the graduate programs of the Universidade de São Paulo (USP), the Universidade de Campinas (Unicamp), and the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF). Social history still dominates, shining a light on the "hidden" actors in Brazil's historical drama. Now joining works on women, slaves, free poor and people of color, are studies of freed women, gypsies, and abandoned children. Of particular note is the outstanding work by Júnia Ferreira Furtado in reconstructing the life and family of Chica da Silva, presenting her as a model of what many freed women in Minas Gerais hoped to accomplish for themselves and for their children in the heady days of the gold rush (item #bi2003000802#). Also significant is Sheila de Castro Faria's research on the financial savvy of freed African women who accumulated the funds necessary to purchase their freedom and, once free, carefully managed their income and assets to the point of drawing up prenuptial contracts with future husbands (item #bi2002004483#). Carlos de Almeida Prado Bacellar's work on Sorocaba gives good insight into the lives of rural women and abandoned children (item #bi2003001381#). Recent research on degredados, those sentenced to banishment in Brazil from Portugal, adds to our awareness of the role of outcasts in shaping colonial society (items #bi2002005972#, #bi 00003627#, and #bi2003001397#).

Longstanding interest in the variety and complexity of the African experience in Brazil has prompted more scholars to look across the Atlantic for insight into Afro-Brazilian culture (items #bi2001003739#, #bi2001000476#, #bi 00007543#, and #bi 00006554#). Luiz Geraldo Silva argues for the importance of considering local politics in the African regions from which slaves were brought to better understand slave rebellion in Brazil (item #bi2003000824#). Linda Heywood highlights the role of Luso-African Catholic traditions in shaping Afro-Brazilian popular culture (item #bi 00006316#). And Mariza de Carvalho Soares examines the terminology used to describe Africans as a way of discerning the changing role of the Portuguese in Africa and in Brazil (item #bi2001001964#). On the other hand, Elizabeth Kiddy (item #bi 00006546#) and Carlos A.M. Lima (item #bi2001003442#) demonstrate that Africans united for political and cultural purposes once in Brazil. Rethinking the role of black confraternities seems appropriate: while they provided space for African culture, they also helped slaves and free blacks to navigate the often treacherous political conditions of Portuguese Brazil.

Regional histories continue to provide a focus for scholars of colonial Brazil. Some outstanding recent work deals with Minas Gerais in the 18th century. Of particular note is Kathleen Higgins' rich portrayal (heeding Joan Scott's call to use gender as a tool of analysis) of the social and economic transformations generated by the gold boom and bust (item #bi2003006550#). Anita Novinsky's preliminary work on New Christians in Minas Gerais illustrates the value of using global themes to better understand local communities (item #bi2001003737#). In Ilana Blaj's attempt to debunk of the myth of the exceptional paulistas, she approaches regional history from a different angle, linking the region more tightly to a national political and economic tradition (items #bi 00001010# and #bi2002004497#). And the work by (and critique of) João Fragoso and Manolo Florentino notes the ascendancy of Rio de Janeiro as the premier south Atlantic port of the late 18th century and its significance for the "late colonial" Brazilian economy and for the Portuguese empire (items #bi 00006572# and #bi2002001569#).

Scholarship on colonial Brazil also continues to be enriched by the shift toward cultural history. Adriana Romeiro, drawing on the work of Natalie Davis and Carlo Ginzburg, recalls the life of Pedro de Rates Henequim to illuminate essential connections between religion and politics in the 18th-century Luso-Brazilian world (item #bi2003001353#). Others look to popular festas both as the breeding ground for political discontent (item #bi2001003444#) and as space for developing new ideas about citizenship and nation (items #bi2001003997#, #bi2003001379#, #bi2003001351#, and #bi 00002334#).

Finally, the field of environmental history appears to be budding. José Augusto Pádua, for example, points to early environmentalist concerns among a Brazilian-born elite in the late 18th century, tying environmentalism to the Enlightenment and the birth of the modern era (item #bi 00006320#). Robin Anderson, on the other hand, describes the seriously flawed 18th-century policy for settling the Amazon as a precursor to ecological disaster in that region in the late 20th century (item #bi 99009549#). And Shawn Miller blames royal monopoly for the wasteful destruction of Brazil's timber resources (item #bi 00002084#). These early steps, pioneer efforts in a new research field, hold promise for a richer appreciation of the social, economic, political, and cultural transformations that accompanied the transformation of the Brazilian landscape. [JM]

NATIONAL PERIOD

Cultural history studies reviewed here indicate that this subfield is now an established research area within Brazilian historiography. Histories starting from the personal, the private, or the marginal are now enriching and challenging our understanding of social and political institutions. The most ambitious recent achievement is the Historia da vida privada no Brasil, under the general editorship of Novais, a four-volume collection of essays on private life, stretching from the colonial period to the present (see HLAS 58:3177 and items #bi2004001427#, #bi2004001428#, and #bi2001001122#). It is also notable that monographs on sexuality and honor by Green (item #bi2003006542#) and Caulfield (item #bi 00001565#), or an article on military recruits by Beattie (item #bi 00003208#), can greatly illuminate traditional assumptions about the relationship between power and politics. In comparison with works informed by cultural history, such as Barman's definitive political biography of Dom Pedro II (item #bi 00000172#) and Schwarcz's work that studies imperial rituals in Rio de Janeiro (item #bi 00004857#), there is a steep drop in quality to the more conventional elite biographies and memoirs that have flooded Brazilian bookstores, such as Sandroni on Austregésilo de Athayde (item #bi2001001175#), or Montello on Kubitschek (item #bi2001001201#).

Still, recent solid publications that examine the history of cultural representations are rather scarce, though Cunha shows how treatment in a mental hospital reinforced gender stereotypes (item #bi 98016288#), Rodrigues analyzes Rio funerals (item #bi2001001206#), and Mesquita surveys efforts to "Europeanize" Manuas in the late 19th century (item #bi 00004858#). Many works study press coverage: Folhas do tempo looks at Belo Horizonte's popular culture (item #bi 00004887#); Schpun discusses women in the 1920s (item #bi2001001128#); Paula examines photos of the 1932 rebellion (item #bi2001001197#); Figueiredo reviews 1950s advertising (item #bi2001001182#); and Aquino discusses 1970s censorship (item #bi2001001181#). São Paulo em revista offers a bibliographic guide to periodicals (item #bi2001001210#), and Levine reveals Naylor's documentary photojournalism (item #bi2003006543#).

More conventional intellectual and literary history flourished in articles about a single author, such as Mota's collection (item #bi2001001135#), or Amory on Da Cunha (item #bi 00006072#). Some broader monographs include Paim on liberalism (item #bi2001001204#) and Langer on imaginary cities (item #bi2001001203#). Work on historians and historiography, other than Arruda and Tengarrinha (item #bi2001001200#), has dwindled. Matory uproots "African purity" in Brazilian anthropology by arguing that what is known in conventional scholarship as traditional Yoruba culture was in fact selected and compiled, or even invented, by Afro-Brazilian returnees in Lagos (item #bi2003006544#).

Beyond the familiar topic of travelers and naturalists (item #bi2001001118#), areas beginning to receive attention in Brazil include the history of ethnography and archeology (item #bi 00006299#) and historical archeology, not only of urban areas (items #bi 00002389# and #bi 00004890#), but on the frontier as well (items #bi 98016207# and #bi 98016206#). Langfur debunks myths of the peaceful subjugation of the Bororo early in the 20th century (item #bi 00003209#) and Lima looks at the sertão in the construction of a national identity in the Old Republic (item #bi 98016136#).

Slavery continues to be a dominant theme in the historiography of 19th-century Brazil, as it was a dominant theme for Brazilians who lived under the Empire. Several recent studies, including Bergad (item #bi 99009655#), Carvalho (item #bi 00004882#), Florentino (item #bi 00004896#), and Lima (item #bi 00004891#), examine slave life and slave demography, while Vasconcellos focuses on the role of kinship in helping slaves to form communities and develop strategies of resistance (item #bi 99008709#). When considering such resistance, historians such as Brown (item #bi2001002465#), Carvalho (item #bi 00004882#), Florence (item #bi 98016222#), Reis (item #bi 98007251#), and Zubaran (item #bi 98001148#) have emphasized "everyday" forms of resistance, as well as state and employer reactions, while Azevedo compares how abolitionists in the US and Brazil reacted to slave violence (item #bi 99009124#). Welcome are treatments of slavery outside the usual Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo axis, for example, Carvalho on Recife (item #bi 00004882#), Lima on Rio Grande do Sul (item #bi 00004891#), Bergad on Minas Gerais (item #bi 99009655#), and Westphalen on Paraná (item #bi 98016271#), as well as those of slavery in less well studied activities such as transport (item #bi 99003480#) and small scale, nonexport agriculture (item #bi 99001960#). Studies by McCann (item #bi 98000489#) and Bivar Marquese (item #bi 99009837#) look at slave management techniques, and Reis provides an excellent survey of the recent historiography of Brazilian slavery (item #bi2001000580#).

Butler (item #bi 00004901#) and Loner (item #bi 00003288#) show how ex-slaves attempted to adapt and survive after abolition, while other historians, including Neder (item #bi 98007253#), Peraro (item #bi 00005989#), Schueler (item #bi 00003321#), and especially Moura (item #bi 00004916#), Silva (item #bi 00002249#), and Wissenbach (item #bi 00004906#) address similar questions for the working classes and free poor. The unlucky ones found their activities criminalized and themselves coerced by forced labor schemes (items #bi 00000868# and #bi 00004889#), but immigrants more than freedmen were the concern of Rio's police force (item #bi2001001130#). Moura's beautiful Vida cotidiana collects primary sources for a broad look at life in 19th-century São Paulo (item #bi 00004854#).

Recent medical history of Brazil has tended to focus on social control and especially state public health measures (items #bi 98005326#, #bi 99002460#, #bi 99009389#, #bi 00003967#, and #bi 99006595#). The photographs in O Rio de Janeiro do bota-abaixo document many of the changes made to the city (item #bi 00004862#). Crocitti on housing projects (item #bi 97017173#) and Salla on São Paulo prisons address overlapping issues of social control (item #bi2001001155#).

Some medical history provides a different perspective. A major study is Peard's Race, Place and Medicine, arguing that not all Brazilian doctors accepted European climate and race prejudices (item #bi 00001561#). Some, instead, struggled to construct a useful medicine for a modern tropical nation. Several pieces highlight conflicts between popular medicine and efforts to professionalize and regulate the field (items #bi 99002684#, #bi 00006491#, and #bi 00006490#). Elder surveys the historiography of 19th century medicine (item #bi 99002460#), and in a related area, Figuierôa shows that natural science in Brazil was not just the province of visiting foreigners (item #bi 99002553#).

Particularly important for political history are the two superb new studies of Pedro II and his involvement in forming and maintaining the Empire (items #bi 00000172# and #bi 00004857#). Shifting the focus from the Corte to the sertão, Beiber argues that political violence in the interior was not endemic but rather the result of Imperial consolidation (item #bi 00004881#). Several items examine press discourse (items #bi 98016436#, #bi 98000847#, #bi 00001924#, and #bi 99006615#), while others explore the meanings and mechanisms of citizenship in the early Empire (items #bi 97017437#, #bi 98007253#, and #bi 00001013#). Dolhnikoff provides a useful synthesis of the ideas of one of the founders of the Empire, José Bonifácio (item #bi 98015990#). Studies by Beattie (item #bi 00003208#) and Kraay (items #bi 98012736# and #bi 98005915#) advance our understanding of civil-military relations, and Amaral de Toral shows how photographs from the Paraguayan War affected the civilian population and politics (item #bi 00005993#).

Post-1922 political history maintains its focus on familiar topics of the Vargas era (items #bi2001001151# and #bi2001001177#). The 30th anniversary of 1968 inspired histories, memoirs, and ghastly albums about prisons, torture, and authoritarian politics: Tiradentes (item #bi2001001211#), Couto (item #bi2001001173#), and Capitani (item #bi2001001187#). More illuminating were detailed chronicles of state politics such as Dantas on Sergipe (item #bi2001001141#) and Buzar on Maranhão in the earlier period of 1945–64 (item #bi2001001174#). A preference for studying the left continues to skew what we know about politics. Coronéis and the technocrats have vanished, but Hecker offers a meticulous history of the microscopic Partido Socialista Brasileiro (item #bi2001001159#), and we learn more about anarchists from Valente (item #bi2001001150#) and Bertucci (item #bi2001001209#). Deutsch on Las derechas fills gaps (item #bi 00003489#), but we are grateful for even a pedestrian Integralista memoir like that of Nogueira (item #bi2001001183#).

Brazil, like the US, was a creation of immigrants, both forced and voluntary, and immigration continues to attract attention in Brazilian historiography. The Portuguese, for example, early in the Empire concentrated in Rio de Janeiro (items #bi 00006555# and #bi 00007459#), to the occasional concern of the state (item #bi 99006500#); other Europeans favored rural areas (item #bi 00002247#) where they commonly fell afoul of existing power structures (item #bi 00004900#). Lesser shows that local prejudices hampered the efforts of Chinese, Japanese, and "Turcos" to settle in Brazil (item #bi 99008567#). Repatriated migrants are studied in Portugal (item #bi2001001191#) and Italy (item #bi2001001189#).

Several items detail the 19th-century economy outside the main export sectors, including the excellent new books by Barickman on Bahia (item #bi 99001960#) and Bell on Rio Grande do Sul (item #bi2003006341#), and Bichao's study of commercial and industrial entrepreneurship in Minas Gerais (item #bi 00004893#). Coffee, of course, continues to draw attention: Padua, for example, demonstrates domestic capital accumulation in southern Minas Gerais (item #bi 99009895#) and Nozoe documents the transition from small- to large-scale production in one area of São Paulo (item #bi 00002538#). Studies of 20th-century economic history include Leite's historical geography of land grabs (item #bi2001001157#); Abreu on international trade and finance, 1930–45 (item #bi2001001190#); Alberti's collection on insurance markets (item #bi2001001180#); and Vogt on tobacco farming (item #bi2001001146#). [DB and DM]


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