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Brazil's Living Museum

Race, Reform, and Tradition in Bahia

Anadelia A. Romo

Publication Year: 2010

Romo examines ideas of race in key cultural and public arenas through a close analysis of medical science, the arts, education, and the social sciences. As she argues, although Bahian racial thought came to embrace elements of Afro-Brazilian culture, the presentation of Bahia as a living museum threatened by social change portrayed Afro-Bahian culture and modernity as necessarily at odds. Romo's finely tuned account complicates our understanding of Brazilian racial ideology and enriches our knowledge of the constructions of race across Latin America and the larger African diaspora. Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia has built its economy around attracting international tourists to what is billed as the locus of Afro-Brazilian culture and the epicenter of Brazilian racial harmony. Chronicling the period from the abolition of slavery in 1888 to the start of Brazil's military regime in 1964, Romo uncovers how the state's nonwhite majority moved from being a source of embarrassment to being a critical component of Bahia's identity.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Acknowledgments [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. ix-xi

After many years of work on this manuscript, it is a pleasure to finally be able to acknowledge, in print, the many colleagues and friends who have helped along the way. For their valuable comments and careful readings, I thank many generous souls, including Patrick Barr-Melej, Dain Borges, John Coatsworth, João José Reis, Julia Rodriguez, and John Womack. Carrie ...

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Introduction. Between Africa and Athens: Bahia’s Search for Identity

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pp. 1-12

The northeastern state of Bahia occupies a critical position in Brazil’s imagination and in its history. Alternately romanticized and denigrated, it has served both as a cradle of Brazilian national identity and as an embarrassing symbol of Brazil’s backwardness. More recently, Bahia has played a central role in representing Brazil’s African roots, both for Brazilians and for the ...

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1 Finding a Cure for Bahia

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pp. 13-46

Bahia’s public health reformers never convinced Catholic authorities to take action against the malicious germs lurking in their sanctuaries, but goals of disinfected and hygienic churches remained symbolic of their modernizing, reformist vision for society as a whole. With the final abolition of slavery in 1888 and the advent of a new federal republic the following year, Bahian society ...

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2 Contests of Culture

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pp. 47-85

Brazil’s revolution of 1930 ushered Getúlio Vargas into the presidency and shifted power away from the nation’s traditional oligarchies. Bahia’s elite faced the future uncertainly as federally appointed governors, or interventors, replaced them in office. They referred scornfully to Interventor Juracy Magalhães (a native of Ceará) as a forasteiro, or foreigner, and used him as a ...

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3 Preserving the Past

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pp. 86-112

Bahia’s Afro-Brazilian Congress had begun to alter the atmosphere of Salvador, but Edison Carneiro was not there long enough to savor its results. In 1939 he relocated to Rio de Janeiro to research the “regional ethnography of black and indigenous” cultures in several Northeastern states for the National Museum, returning to Bahia only for short research expeditions. ...

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4 Debating African Roots

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pp. 113-132

The U.S. sociologist Donald Pierson memorably characterized the city of Salvador in the late 1930s as “not unlike a medieval city surrounded by African villages.” His adviser’s introduction to his work employed much of the same language: Salvador’s spatial juxtaposition permitted one to walk though “Europe on the ridges” of the city’s hills and hear “the insistent boom of African drums . . . ...

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5 Embattled Modernization and the Retrenchment of Tradition

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pp. 133-150

The forced resignation of Getúlio Vargas in 1945 brought the start of redemocratization and a sense of national renewal and hope. Brazil would start again to build its future, and the policies of the late 1940s and 1950s were imbued with an optimistic push toward modernization.1 President Juscelino Kubitschek, elected in 1956, reflected the euphoria of the period, ...

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pp. 151-159

In 1950 the newly constructed Hotel of Bahia unveiled a fresh mural for its “typical restaurant.” As José Valladares described it for the newspaper A Tarde, the mural presented scenes from “historic and picturesque Bahia,” with the Candomblé deity Iemanjá joining Baianas in the ritual washing of the church of Bomfim. Yet in his phrasing Valladares revealed one of the central tensions in Salvador and Bahia as a whole: the traditions described ...


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pp. 161-194


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pp. 195-216


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pp. 217-221

E-ISBN-13: 9781469604084
E-ISBN-10: 1469604086
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833827
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833827

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 658201543
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Brazil's Living Museum

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bahia (Brazil : State) -- History.
  • Bahia (Brazil : State) -- Race relations.
  • Blacks -- Brazil -- Bahia (State) -- Government relations.
  • Blacks -- Race identity -- Brazil -- Bahia (State) -- History.
  • Bahia (Brazil : State) -- Civilization -- African influences.
  • Politics and culture -- Brazil -- Bahia (State) -- History.
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