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Intellectuals and the Search for National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil


  • 2 tables
  • Page extent: 306 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.59 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 305.5/5209810904
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: F2538 .C47 2014
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Intellectuals--Political activity--Brazil--History--20th century
    • Brazil--Intellectual life--20th century
    • Political culture--Brazil--History--20th century
    • Nationalism--Brazil--History--20th century
    • National characteristics, Brazilian

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9781107071629)

This book discusses twentieth-century Brazilian political thought, arguing that while Rio de Janeiro intellectuals envisaged the state and the national bourgeoisie as the means to overcome dependency on foreign ideas and culture, São Paulo intellectuals looked to civil society and the establishment of new academic institutions in the search for national identity. Ronald H. Chilcote begins his study by outlining Brazilian intellectuals' attempt to transcend a sense of inferiority emanating from Brazilian colonialism and backwardness. Next, he traces the struggle for national identity in Rio de Janeiro through an account of how intellectuals of varying political persuasions united in search of a political ideology of national development. He then presents an analysis by São Paulo intellectuals on racial discrimination, social inequality, and class differentiation under early capitalism and industrialization. The book concludes with a discussion on how Brazilian intellectuals challenged foreign thinking about development through the state and representative democratic institutions, in contrast to popular and participatory democratic practices.

• A history of twentieth-century political thought in Brazil • Looks in-depth at Brazilian intellectuals, their ideas, and cultural production • Emphasizes Brazilian contributions to theories about development, underdevelopment, and democratic practices


Introduction: the intellectual in theory and practice; 1. Intellectuals and political thought in twentieth-century Brazil; 2. Developmental nationalism and the Rio movement; 3. Nationalism and Marxism in the São Paulo movement; 4. Capitalism and the bourgeois revolution: understanding development and underdevelopment; 5. The pursuit of democracy; Conclusion.


'The history of Brazil in the twentieth century is also the history of its public intellectuals. Ronald H. Chilcote fully understands how culture and politics were intertwined in Brazil, and he has written an extraordinary book on these Brazilian intellectuals, which is also a critical interpretation of how Brazil changed from an oligarchical society to a vibrant although unequal democracy.' Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, Emeritus Professor, Getulio Vargas Foundation

'Chilcote offers a wide-ranging study of intellectual currents in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil, in the second half of the twentieth century that shaped debates about economic development, industrialization, and Brazilian nationalism. Based on three decades of research and almost a hundred interviews and oral histories with leading intellectuals in the social sciences and humanities, this volume is an invaluable resource for scholars interested in understanding the intersection between academics and politics in late twentieth-century Brazil, as well as for specialists seeking a comprehensive compendium that synthesizes different debates and controversies that took place during the political upheavals of the last seventy years of Brazilian history.' James N. Green, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Chair of Latin American History, Brown University

'This book's extensive research and documentation, the fruit of four decades of teaching and research, will not only serve as a reference to experts in area studies but can also easily be adopted in undergraduate classes on Latin America, political economy, and history of ideas.' Jawdat Abu-el-Haj, Federal University of Ceara

'This book reflects the breadth of engagement with the progressive intelligentsia of Rio and Sao Paulo by a passionate US observer committed to national and social liberation. Drawing on a half-century of interviews and dialogue, Ronald Chilcote's survey nicely complements and extends earlier works by Carlos Guilherme Mota and Daniel Pecaut. Spanning seventy-five years in coverage, the book underlines a point made by Portuguese Nobel Prize recipient José Sarmago: for far too long 'the error of the Marxist left has been to think that the weapons of the past will always serve to win the battles of the present'.' John D. French, Duke University

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