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A Century of Change

Edited by Ignacy Sachs, Jorge Wilheim, and Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro

Publication Year: 2009

This English translation of an acclaimed Brazilian anthology provides critical overviews of Brazilian life, history, and culture and insight into Brazil’s development over the past century. The distinguished essayists, most of whom are Brazilian, provide expert perspectives on the social, economic, and cultural challenges that face Brazil as it seeks future directions in the age of globalization.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xx

Brazil is the country of the future and always will be. This common refrain captures three basic sides of Brazilian identity: a sense of tremendous potential; anxiety about the country’s problems, particularly the problem of deep social inequality; and a sense that Brazil is in process—that change is constant. This...

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Translator’s Note

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pp. xxi-xxiv

“Language is etiquette,” writes Brazilian historian Emília Viotti da Costa in her preface to The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories (UNC Press, 1985), which she herself translated into English from the Portuguese original. I have learned from her not only in resolving dilemmas of word choice and disciplinary discursive...

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pp. xxv-xxvi

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Brazil looks quite different from how it did in 1900. The extraordinary course of its history in the last century reveals deep transformations. Not only has Brazil experienced modernization, changes in habits and customs, and growth in population...

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1. A Cartographic and Statistical Portrait of Twentieth-Century Brazil

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pp. 1-19

The word “transformation” covers a broad semantic field, with many synonyms and varied connotations, indicating a transition to another state, whether better or worse. Among the synonyms and near synonyms are alteration, apostasy, change, conversion, degeneration, degradation, development, deterioration...

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2. Traces of the Big House and the Slave Quarters: Social Transformation in Rural Brazil during the Twentieth Century

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pp. 20-54

Rural Brazil changed profoundly in the course of the twentieth century. Yet these changes renewed the social hierarchy and inequality that have characterized the rural world since the beginning of colonization. Change has not been simply linear or mechanical. At the beginning of the twentieth century, land and social power...

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3. Economic Evolution and the International Connection

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pp. 55-100

Brazil, a country with a huge land area and, at least since the mid-twentieth century, a large population, has long had an economy based on its domestic market. Big countries like Brazil hold a significant share of the world’s labor force and production within their borders. This is evident if we imagine what Portuguese...

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4. Brazil and the World

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pp. 101-119

This essay is an analysis of Brazil’s international relations in the twentieth century. Such an analysis brings together a range of themes and problems. The organizing perspective of this survey, though, is that foreign policy is public policy whose purpose is translating domestic needs into possible foreign relations...

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5. Culture and Society

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pp. 120-140

The topic of Brazilian culture over the span of a century is a broad one. I have chosen to limit the objects of this essay to the mass media and industries of culture. I hope to tailor the question of culture to these topics, broaching important themes from intellectual debates and from the development of Brazilian...

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6. From the Patrimonial State to the Managerial State

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pp. 141-173

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Brazil was an oligarchic patrimonial state in the midst of an agricultural mercantile economy and of a class-based society that had barely emerged from slavery. A hundred years later, it is a democratic state, somewhere between bureaucratic and managerial, presiding over a...

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7. Political Transition and the (Un)rule of Law in the Republic

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pp. 174-215

A French diplomat, Charles Wiener, who served in Rio de Janeiro in the nineteenth century, returned to Brazil in 1911. He recalled, “At that time, thirty-five years ago, there was still slavery in Brazil. One bought workers, laborers, artisans, domestic servants, as one would buy a horse, a sheep, a cow, or a dog...

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8. Federalism and National Identity

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pp. 216-252

Ever since the founders of American independence invented the federal system at the end of the eighteenth century as the foundation for unity of the thirteen colonies recently freed from Britain, this New World model has been an established system for organization of the state. It is characterized by the coexistence...

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9. Amazonia: Past Progress and Future Prospects

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pp. 253-270

The Greater Amazon Region, or Amazonia, encompasses about 7.8 million square kilometers in northern South America, approximately 60 percent of the combined area of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, and Venezuela. This corresponds to about 44 percent of the total area...

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10. The Northeast: Five Hundred Years of Discoveries

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pp. 271-290

Brazil was discovered in the Northeast. Not only because it was in the northeastern state of Bahia that the first encounter with what would become Brazil occurred but because it was in the northeastern state of Pernambuco that the new country solidified as a producer of a commodity that required permanent...

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11. When the Future Arrives

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pp. 291-299

Brazil has been going through a phase of disillusionment and anxiety. Everyone knows that Brazil’s late industrialization was carried out within a framework of imitative development that reinforced atavistic tendencies in its society toward elitism and social exclusion. It is natural to ask what has been wrong with the...

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12. The Challenges of the Globalized Economy

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pp. 300-319

The cycle of neoliberal reforms that occurred in the last two decades of the twentieth century accelerated the integration of the large peripheral economies of capitalism into the global market. This cycle was sustained by the rhetoric that it was both inevitable and beneficial. Its objectives were the free flow of...

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13. Metropolises and the Far West in the Twenty-first Century

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pp. 320-331

At the beginning of this new century, Brazil offers a varied and attractive panorama. It is the proud home of nineteen metropolitan areas, of which two are highprofile megacities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. There are thirty more urban agglomerations with modern metropolitan characteristics. At the same time, the...

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14. Quo Vadis, Brazil?

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pp. 332-344

Will Brazil be the eternal “country of the future”? Nearly seventy years after the publication of Stefan Zweig’s well-known book Brazil: Land of the Future, and notwithstanding a century of especially rapid economic growth and spectacular modernization, in the course of which its population grew tenfold and the gross...


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pp. 345-348


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pp. 349-364

E-ISBN-13: 9781469605913
E-ISBN-10: 1469605910
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807831304
Print-ISBN-10: 0807831301

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Brazil -- Civilization -- 20th century.
  • Brazil -- Forecasting.
  • Twenty-first century -- Forecasts.
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