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  • Historical and Cultural Patrimony in BrazilRecent Work in Portuguese
  • John F. Collins (bio)
O passado no futuro da cidade: Políticas públicas e participação dos cidadãos na preservação do patrimônio cultural de Porto Alegre. By Ana Lúcia Meira. Porto Alegre: Editora da Universidade Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, 2004. Pp. 206. R$18.00 paper.
Brasília: Memória, cidadania e gestão do patrimônio cultural. By Sandra Bernardes Ribeiro. São Paulo: Annablume Editora, 2005. Pp. 205. R$30.00 paper.
Quem me quer, não me quer: Brasília, metropole-patrimônio. By Marta Litwinczik Sinoti. São Paulo: Annablume Editora, 2005. Pp. 289. R$30.00 paper.
Antropologia dos objetos: Coleções, museus e patrimônios. By José Reginaldo Santos Gonçalves. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto do Patrimônio e Histórico Artístico Nacional, 2007. Pp. 256. R$40.00 paper.
Por um inventário dos sentidos: Mário de Andrade e a concepção de patrimônio e inventário. By Antônio Gilberto Ramos Nogueira. São Paulo: Editora Hucitec, 2005. Pp. 336. R$40.00 paper.

Brazil has long been touted as a nation of the future. Yet a glance at the fi nancial pages in mid-2008 would seem to indicate that, especially in macroeconomic terms, this purportedly deferred historical promise has become a concrete, if contradictory, reality. And at this historical juncture that masquerades as an end to the modernist, developmental histories evident in projects like the construction of Brasília, the preservation and marketing of cultural and historical patrimony, or what is typically referred to as heritage in English, has come to play a growing role in the crafting of citizens, the open exchanges emblematic of democracies, and the production of value. Such patrimony or heritage—I will use the terms interchangeably in the paragraphs that follow—is a collective good, and thus a category of public property, as well as a bundle of techniques for protecting objects confi gured as essential to community identity. Supervised internationally by the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c, and [End Page 291] Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and celebrated by the World Bank as a means of mobilizing culture for development, patrimony relies on registry and public commemoration to transform everyday practices and material culture into possessions of the nation or, if UNESCO is involved, of humankind. At a moment when many Latin American nations are either engaged in or facing fallout from the privatization of national possessions, heritage's ubiquity and role in alienating private property and everyday life as public goods—and hence its blurring of the boundaries between property regimes—may mean that a citizenry's practices may function as resources. In such an environment, artworks as well as a people's creativity appear as sources of value rather than symbols of unity. Yet a burgeoning commodifi cation of identities and everyday life is not the only story that can be told about Brazil's patrimony.

Brazil's cultural heritage institution, now called the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN), was fi rst established in 1937 during the Estado Novo and has long been a leader in worldwide heritage movements. This legacy of innovative state-led registry of national treasures, together with recent movements in capitalism that have transformed South America's industrial powerhouse into a center of cultural production, underscores the importance of understanding the roles of heritage at a moment when Brazil's federal government appears committed to reducing inequality. In O passado no futuro da cidade (The past in the future of the city), Ana Lúcia Goelzer Meira, an architect and IPHAN regional superintendent, focuses on citizens' participation in heritage in the progressive municipality of Porto Alegre. There municipal heritage programs drew force in the 1990s from and supported an array of participatory budgeting initiatives and popular congresses. This gave rise to what she portrays as a citizen- and heritage-based, nonelite imaginary that emphasizes previously unrecognized cultural goods. Over the past thirty years, instead of fetishizing exceptional artifacts, Porto Alegre's planners have come often to valorize relatively intangible accumulations of shared memories, feelings...


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