During World War II, the governments of Brazil and the United States made an unprecedented level of joint investment in the economy and infrastructure of the Amazon region. The dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas (1937-45) trumpeted the colonization and development of the Amazon (christened the “March to the West”) as a nationalist imperative to defend a sparsely settled frontier covering some sixty percent of Brazilian territory.
There is a vast historiography on worker strikes and resistance to economic exploitation in Latin America and Brazil, yet most scholars disregard the environmental backdrop to struggles over land, labor, and resources.
Amy Chazkel’s Laws of Chance explores the rise of a cultural phenomenon that has engrossed the Brazilian imaginary since the turn of the twentieth century: the lottery game jogo do bicho. Its multifaceted analysis ties the “animal game” to the rise of urbanization, consumer capitalism, positivist criminology, and the cash economy in the First Republic (1889-1930).
Bartolomé de Las Casas has been long renowned as a religious reformer, champion of indigenous rights and an advocate of the freedoms of the Indians in the Americas. He has been lauded as the “Father of America” and “noble protector of the Indians.” Conversely, he has also been much disparaged and criticized by historians.
Shortly after 1:00am on January 25, 1835, a contingent of African-born slaves and former slaves emerged from a house at number 2 Ladeira da Praça and overpowered the justice of the peace and a police lieutenant. Throughout the night approximately six hundred rebels ran through the streets fighting and vandalizing a number of municipal buildings.
Greg Grandin has written a page-turner that tells the story of Henry Ford’s foray into the Brazilian Amazon and much more. In 1925, Ford met with Harvey Firestone to discuss England’s challenge to the US rubber supply. Much as the Belgians had done in Africa in the late nineteenth-century, England had extracted this resource by proxy—through companies such as the Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company in the Amazon and its Asian colonies. Ford’s response was to embark upon his own South American venture into the world of rubber.
Knowing one’s exact location was among the greatest challenges of the human push into the air, as it is in the exploration of any new frontier, before there were such things as aeronautical charts, that is, maps for aerial navigation. It is easy for a generation with pocket sized access to Google Maps to underestimate how different our world looks from above if you have only seen it from ground level.
Today, people who live in democratic societies take religious freedom for granted. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most Europeans found the idea of “freedom of conscience” deeply threatening. How could the fabric of society withstand competing religious ideas? What would convince people to live moral lives in the absence of a single, state-supported church?
It’s no coincidence that Hollywood has a thing for Rio de Janeiro. The city’s breathtaking landscape enlivens the most uninspired camerawork. Its pulsating musical rhythms spice up any soundtrack. Rio’s favelas (slums), with their arresting squalor, stoke movie-goers’ fears and fantasies
National identity has been both a dream and a nightmare for historians. When they attempt to historicize the concept, it becomes a thick web of actors, motives, and unintended consequences. Exploring the “invention of tradition” underlying modern national identities proves an appealing but extremely difficult task.