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The Catholic Historical Review 89.2 (2003) 354-355

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Os Salesianos e a Educação na Bahia e em Sergipe—Brasil, 1897-1970. By Antenor de Andrade Silva. [Istituto Storico Salesiano—Roma, Studi 14.] (Rome: LAS [Libreria Ateneo Salesiano]. 2000. Pp. 431. Lire 40.000.)

This study of the Salesian education in the Brazilian states of Bahia and Sergipe is an institutional history covering seventy-three years, from 1897, when the Archbishop of Salvador, Bahia, invited the Salesians to establish a school there, until 1970, the year that the Salesian school admitted young women. The author, Antenor de Andrade Silva, is an alumnus and former director of the school, currently serving in the Salesian hierarchy in Rome. The work is divided into two sections. The first, "Préhistoria," contains a chapter discussing the history of the Salesian project in Europe and Latin America and a second outlining nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Brazilian social history. Section Two, "Fundação," deals more specifically with the work of the Salesians in Bahia, from the founding of the first Salesian school, to its successes and problems, to its students and faculty.

The text's principal strengths lie in the author's familiarity with the Bahian program and his extensive primary research in Salesian archives in Brazil and in Rome. He clearly had access to all of the Salesian archives containing material related to the Bahian program and made extensive use of them in the text and in his reproduction of numerous primary documents related to the Salesian presence in northeastern Brazil in the twentieth century. Moreover, significant portions of the study are essentially summaries of the documents uncovered by the author in his search for materials on the Salesians, while the appendices contain reproductions of various documents. The photographs, particularly those of the students and apprentices of the first half of the twentieth century, add significantly to the study and evoke the era discussed as few institutional documents could. Such material, along with the statistics provided about the students served over the years, is probably not in print anywhere else.

Beyond those points, however, the text is problematic. As a volume produced in honor of the centennial of the Salesians' arrival in Bahia by a member of the order, it lacks the scholarly apparatus that would make it useful to university faculty. It engages no scholarly debates, and its author demonstrates only limited familiarity with the literature on Brazilian history or religious history. It has, essentially, no argument.

That said, the volume is not completely without value or merit. It is the only published volume on the history of the Salesians in Bahia, and as such would be of use to anyone interested either in Salesian education in Latin America or to [End Page 354] educational projects for working-class students in Brazil. Its pages suggest numerous topics for future study, and offer the initial tools for anyone wishing to write dissertations on the topic. It suggests, in particular, that the study of Salesian education in Bahia would offer an interesting comparison with the working-class education projects developed by industrialists in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, in the same period, so expertly studied by Barbara Weinstein in For Social Peace in Brazil.


Mary Ann Mahony
Columbia College, South Carolina



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