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Lecture and Seminar Programme

We will commence with an overview of the late colonial period from 1750 and the advent of independence by 1822. Moving through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we will examine key events and themes such as the abolition of slavery, the declaration of the Republic in 1889, the “New State” of Getúlio Vargas and his political legacies; the forging of a unique national identity rooted in popular culture and notions about race mixture; the period of military rule; the process of political “opening” back to democracy by 1985; and the tremendous social and economic challenges faced by Brazil since the 1980s. The course will explore the interactions of political, economic and social history. We will incorporate the study of non-elite social actors and groups – women; rural workers; slaves – and ask how social movements – trade unions; the Black Movement; indigenous groups - helped shape broader political and economic forces.

Weekly core readings will be available in one of three ways: through scans to be posted on each week's webpage; through e-books and journals available through the Library; or through the Library scans page.




Lecture and Seminar Topic

Autumn Term 1



Brazil’s Colonial Heritage; Colonial Reforms and Tensions

3 Independence and Aftermath
4 An Experiment in Decentralisation
5 The 1840 “Regresso”
6 Reading Week - no lecture or seminar

Trouble in the Empire: Politics and the Paraguayan War

8 The Abolition of Slavery and Post-emancipation Realities
9 The Advent of a Republic
10 Coffee with Milk: the Economic, Political and Social Structures of the Republic
Spring Term 1

The Breakdown of the Old Order: the 1920s and the 1930 Revolution

2 “Father of the Poor”? Vargas and the Estado Novo
3 National Identity: Samba, Football, and “Racial Democracy”
4 Migration, Urbanisation and Labour Movements
5 “Fifty Years’ Progress in Five”? Kubitschek, Brasília and inflation
6 Reading Week - no lecture or seminar
7 The Military in Power
8 Gradual Transition to Democracy, 1973-1985; Neoliberalism; New Social Movements (1)
9 A New Democracy; New Social Movements (2)
10 Debt, inflation, and the election of the PT: a new era?
Summer Term 1 Conclusions and revision