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The Country of the Future: An Introduction to the History of Modern Brazil (HI2F1-30)

Office Hours:


Dr Camillia Cowling
Room H339, third floor of the Humanities Building


“Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be.” Popular Brazilian joke

“Brazil: a country for all.” Brazilian government slogan

According to an old Brazilian joke, “Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be.” When the nation was selected to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, a booming “BRIC” economy and popular president contributed to a sense that, perhaps, the future had finally arrived. Yet beyond the hosting of high-profile sporting events, Brazil is facing a crisis of democracy, public health and serious economic troubles. How much do we really know about this giant among Latin American nations? This course aims to get beyond the stereotypes – whether the heady images of samba, sex, “racial democracy” and futebol, or the disturbing pictures of shantytowns, drug barons and extreme social inequality – in order to understand the major political, social and economic patterns that have shaped Brazil’s history since independence. Along the way, we will explore what Brazil shares with its Latin American neighbours: a heritage of Iberian colonisation; dependence on agricultural exports and the twentieth-century struggle to industrialise; or the gradual forging of a new national identity based on ideologies of race mixture and corporatist political traditions. We will also explore what makes it unique: its close links to Africa that give Salvador the largest black population of any city outside Nigeria; its incredible diversity of climates, peoples, and natural resources; its uneasy blend of “cordiality” and dissimulated violence.

Many of the seminar readings appear on the Library Scans page.

Lecture and Seminar Programme