On Brazil

Here is another photocopy I have had for years and should really clear out, but that seems important. It’s Matthias Rohrig Assuncão “Elite Politics and Popular Rebellion in the Construction of Post-colonial Order. The Case of Maranhão, Brazil (1820-1841),” Journal of Latin American Studies 31 (1999): 3-38.

(It’s beautifully written and really well informed, and I imagine it having been composed by a person with peace of place and time to concentrate, or space. I imagine what it would be to be like this and realize how far I am from it — I have in fact rarely gotten to this state and stage, and I hope I can.)

Some things of interest: the transition to independence was peaceful in the south but had to be imposed militarily in the north, and the preservation of slavery was what held the country together as a nation. This means that independent Brazil was neo- and not post-colonial. Increasing state control, and law and order, were more important than increasing democracy and citizenship.

(Lord Cochrane was involved in N. Brazilian independence and post independence wars and in Peru too! He represented the central government and was given a title, the Marquis of Maranhão! Also: did you know São Luíz was founded by France in 1612, when it was trying to create its empire? The Portuguese took it in 1615, and it had a Dutch period as well.)

Color was a sign of social class (qualidade). And there is a great deal in this piece and it is interesting, and post-Independence politics are always interesting (and we are still in that period, from what I can tell).

Key point: Maranhão Independence struggles looked a lot as they did in Spanish America. There was popular liberalism that elite liberalism eradicated and/or silenced. See Florencia Mallón on Brazil and Peru, and Carlota Carvalho (O Sertão, 1924) on the Duque de Caxias, who made order in Brazil. Then “all ideas of freedom and moral integrity . . . evaporated from the territory.”


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