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Level 7

7AASM058 Brazil from Independence to the Present

Credit value: 20 credits
Module tutor: Dr Adrian Pearce
Assessment: Two 3,000 word essays (100%)
Teaching arrangements:  2 hour weekly lecture/seminar

Reassessment: Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt

Module description

Brazil from Independence to the Present studies the main trends in Brazilian political, economic, and social history over the ca. 200 years since emancipation from Portugal. The emphasis is on the striking rapidity of societal change during a period in which Brazil was transformed from slave-holding empire to industrial and urbanised democracy. A further key theme considers how Brazil has been affected by, and in turn has affected, the broader Latin American and global contexts.

Three opening sessions discuss the transition to independence and the creation in Brazil of the only sovereign monarchy in the Americas since the European conquest. There then follow two weeks devoted to the ‘Old Republic’, which replaced the monarchy in 1889 and endured until a major political crisis in 1930. Remaining sessions discuss the corporatist and authoritarian regime of Getúlio Vargas in the 1930s and 1940s, the populist democratic regimes of the 1950s and early 1960s, the military dictatorship which ruled the country from 1964 to 1984, and the consolidation of democracy and wide-ranging economic change and liberalisation over the past quarter century.

The module embraces key issues in Western history of the past two centuries, often manifest in Brazil with a highly distinctive flavour. These themes include slavery and its social consequences, nation-building and state formation, mass immigration and internal migrations, the rise of popular politics and political populism, rapid change in social and gender attitudes from the 1970s, dependency theory and Brazil’s place in the world system, as well as the ongoing search for social justice and the strengthening of civil society.

Module aims

  • Provide an understanding of key historical debates concerning developments in the two centuries since Brazil’s independence in the early 1800s.
  • Place Brazilian history in Latin American and global context, through critical scrutiny of concepts of nineteenth-century exceptionalism, twentieth-century Latin Americanisation, and ‘dependency’ and its heirs since the 1960s.
  • Demonstrate how major themes apparent in much of the West since 1800 have played out in a major country of the Americas with a distinctive linguistic, ethnic, and cultural patrimony.
  • Ground modern-day Brazil in the political, economic, and social trends of the past two centuries

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 7 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the chief political and social challenges facing the construction of the nation-state in Brazil following Independence;
  • the differing attempts made since the late nineteenth century to secure a stable political settlement and sustained economic growth for Brazil;
  • the tension between economic growth and development and 1) distribution and social equity and 2) environmental degradation;
  • broad processes of social change and development, especially since ca. 1900, whether affected by or independent of governmental strategies;
  • the depth and scope of democratisation and economic liberalisation in Brazil since the 1980s.

Key texts

General Introductory Reading

  • Fausto, Boris, A Concise History of Brazil (Cambridge: 1999).
  • Skidmore, Thomas, Brazil: Five Centuries of Change (New York: 2010).

Collections of sources

  • Hanke, Lewis (ed.), History of Latin American Civilization vol. 2 The Modern Age (London: 1969), esp. sections 4, 9.
  • Keen, Benjamin (ed.), Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present 7th ed. (Boulder, CO.: 2000), esp. chaps. 11-13, 16, 19.
  • Levine, Robert, & John Crocitti (eds.), The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Durham, N.C.: 1999).

Some key primary texts

Texts published in the early 1970s in the Pelican Latin American Library include:

  • Marighela, Carlos, For the Liberation of Brazil.
  • Arraes, Miguel, Brazil: The People and the Power.
  • Julião, Francisco, Cambão – The Yoke.

Key texts

  • Bourne, Richard, Lula of Brazil: The Story so Far (London: 2008).
  • Branford, Sue, & Bernardo Kucinski, Lula and the Workers’ Party in Brazil (New York: 2005)
  • D’Alva Kinzo, Maria, & James Dunkerley (eds.), Brazil since 1985: Economy, Polity and Society (London: 2003).
  • Garfield, Seth, Indigenous Struggle at the Heart of Brazil: State Policy, Frontier Expansion, and the Xavante Indians, 1937-1988 (Durham, NC: 2001).
  • Hentschke, Jens (ed.), Vargas and Brazil: New Perspectives (New York: 2006).
  • Kingstone, Peter, & Timothy Power (eds.), Democratic Brazil Revisited (Pittsburgh, 2008).
  • Kraay, Hendrik, Race, State, and Armed Forces in Independence-Era Brazil: Bahia, 1790s–1840s (California: 2001).
  • Levine, Robert, Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897 (Berkeley: 1992).
  • Meade, Teresa, "Civilizing" Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889-1930 (University Park, PA: 1997).
  • Mosher, Jeffrey, Political Struggle, Ideology, and State Building: Pernambuco and the Construction of Brazil, 1817-1850 (Lincoln, NEB.: 2008).
  • Needell, Jeffrey, A Tropical Belle Epoque: Elite Culture and Society in Turn-of-the-Century Rio de Janeiro, (Cambridge: 1987).
  • Skidmore, Thomas, Black Into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought new ed. (Durham, NC.: 1992).
  • Skidmore, Thomas, Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964: An Experiment in Democracy 40th anniversary ed. (Oxford: 2007).
  • Skidmore, Thomas, The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-85 (New York: 1988).
  • Vidal Luna, Francisco, & Herbert S. Klein, Brazil since 1980 (Cambridge: 2006).
  • Wolfe, Joel, Working Women, Working Men: São Paulo and the Rise of Brazil's Industrial Working Class, 1900-1955 (Durham, N.C.: 1993).

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.


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