Category Archives: Class Notes

2/15 Class Notes

As the class moved on, we started to talk about racism after the abolition of slavery. Brazil was seeking for progress and modernity in the late 19th century, and the Thursday class also related the past and the present through current events. Even though Brazil has progressed far since the colonial era, racism is still a problem in the society. We first discussed the article “Use of Blackface in Brazil Carnival Parade Sparks Debate” from the Washington Post because the use of blackface in the parade in Sao Paulo raised a huge controversy. From Americans’ point of view, blackface in the parade would be considered as cultural appropriation and racist. The question is whether this form of cultural appropriation is considered racist in Brazil as well. Cultural appropriation means that people from another culture perform and dress in the cultural context without knowing the meaning behind. Some Brazilians were offended by the blackface as well, whereas others did not. The parade group never meant to be offensive, but to stress the artistic element of Afro-Brazilians. “Cultural appropriation” would be an academic phrase to debate across cultures.
The parade that took place recently has been a popular topic to discuss about Brazil. Race has raised ambiguity in Brazil as well. The History and Culture Blog Post presented an article about a British woman who lived in a Brazilian community participated in the parade as a foreigner. She had devoted three hours a day to prepare, and she has successfully blended into Brazil. It raised the question that if a white immigrant would be relatively easier to gain social acceptance in Brazil than other race groups. The Book Presentation also reflected on Brazil’s race and social issues after the abolition of slavery. Vales of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil by Robert Levine explored the racial tension in the Backlands of Brazil. Canudo with approximately 30,000 residents were heavily poor after the abolition, and mainly populated with Afro-Brazilians. Canudo was trying to progress, which is also similar to the article presented later in the class on the question of degeneration. Under the Catholic leadership of Antonio Conselhiro, he and his followers strived to build up a utopian society with no crimes. The life in the Backlands of Brazil was also a challenge because it was not perfectly hospitable to people to live. Due to the long drought and no farming, the famine grew.
To better prepare for our future research, we also learned about how to write an abstract and identified topic, gap, methods or materials, argument and conclusion from “Puffy Ugly Slothful and Inert: Degeneration in Brazilian Social Thought 1880-1940” by Dain Borges. The article was about degeneration after the abolition of slavery and the author raised about the question of if Brazil was backsliding socially, racially and physically. Degeneration means that a backsliding in the society. Borges argued, “Degeneration, though never far from color in Brazil, was more than color. ” Borges started to present degeneration from the perspective of race. Some scientists used scientific racism and claimed that some Brazilian whites were inferior due to the fact that they lived in the tropics, and miscegenation berated the country. Nevertheless, Brazil took this philosophy differently by stressing whitening the society to improve. That was why the society came up with the ideology of whiteness means progress, but blackness shows degeneration. While race was not the only issue in the society, the Brazilians started to look at the public health and physical appearance of the country because Brazil that time had regional widespread of diseases and physical hygiene of places. Some psychiatrists interpreted in a way that those physical health and social problems were led by hereditary and race. Some Brazilians incorporated race in various social issues and attributed problems to race. Race has always been a concern when Brazilians are striving for progress in their society even though they were considering the degeneration.
There could be potential exam questions on social progress, degeneration and racism. I would like to write up questions like: Describe what degeneration means in Brazil and why would they think degeneration was an issue in their society. What aspects of degeneration was involved and how did the Brazilians cope with the idea of degeneration? How did the Brazilians make progressions under race tensions?
Below are the potential sources for further reading.
“The Danger of Cultural Appropriation – the Ongoing Whitening of Brazilian History”,
Black Women of Brazil. June 21, 2015.
This article proposed that white people in Brazil adopted Afro-Brazilian culture in their attire as a kind of fashion. The website argued that the cultural appropriation under the whitening society led people started to forget about Afro-Brazilian culture when the whites dressed up that way.
Zanardi, Luiza. “Why the Need to Understand What Exactly Cultural Appropriation is
Painfully Real Like Brazil”. Affinity. March 3, 2017.
Zanardi argued that cultural appropriation in Brazil would be inappropriate. She proposed that after understanding the meaning of Afro-Brazilian struggles, the example of wearing turban would be showing disrespect.

Fachinetti, Cristiana. Psychiatry in Context: the Problem of Degeneration in Brazil. Directed
by Institute of Historical Research. October 4, 2016; London: School of Advanced Study University of London, n.d. Podcast.
This podcast lectured the history of how Brazilians looking at degeneration psychologically and ways to regeneration from psychiatrists.

Class Notes 2/13

Brazilian History & Culture Post

Tommy gave a discussion on deforestation in Brazil. Brazil stated last fall that the country would plant 73 million trees in the Amazon, the largest replanting in history. This goes along with Brazil’s agreement to replace 12 million hectares of trees, which is roughly the size of Pennsylvania. This promise will prove costly, however. It is very expensive to move and plant 73 million trees. Therefore, the country will use Muvuca, the collecting of seeds from already present trees and planting them elsewhere.

The country had resorted to deforestation in the past to open up lands for agriculture and farm work: soybeans, beef, etc. In 2010, the government forbade the practice of burning trees, but this was easily worked around by farmers and not heavily enforced. The country still removes roughly 25 million trees annually. However, environmental activism is becoming stronger in Brazil, leading to the country’s promise. The completion of this promise will decrease carbon emissions by 37%.


For the past several nights, Brazil has been celebrating Carnaval. Most residents of Brazil will be honoring Lent for the next 40 days (as February 14 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent), and therefore, for the past several decades, has celebrated Carnaval, a weeklong celebration of Brazilian culture, the week before. In some cases, local governments shut down for the week of the celebrations.

Each celebration, each country, is different from the other. In class, we focused on Rio’s parades as they are more strictly dictated by the government. Parades here are usually ran through favelas and each has a different theme. We watched parades from Tuiuti and Salgueiro. In Tuiuti, the theme was a celebration of 130 years since the Golden Law that we learned about last week. More specifically, the parade was to discuss whether slavery truly ended with the Golden Law. Each parade has a samba enredo written for it; the song is then distributed before so that the attendees can sing along. For Tuiuti, the song was titled: “My God, my God, is slavery extinct?”, showing more clearly the parade’s theme. The parade is led by abre alas which is used by dancers who do a choreographed piece on the parade’s theme. The abrialis is followed by huge floats and thousands of dancers dressed to fit the theme.

Parades in Rio are also judged. Each parade must fit into a certain time period, with enough dancers in the parade. Songs, costumes, and movements are all also judged. The top two parades of the entrance competition are then moved up and televised the next year; the bottom two of the main competition are moved down the next year as well.

After we finished watching the parades, a question was asked about the evident blackface worn by different groups in the parade. At the time, there were only two articles with a small mention of opposition to the practice, both using the same tweet as evidence. Therefore, several theories of the practice were discussed in class: colourism is becoming an issue that is discussed more often, and blackface may have been a way to bring that issue to light; along with that, the parades are televised by Globo, an extremely popular channel in Brazil, who often remove darker-skinned peoples, and therefore, the use may have been a protest against the channel; and finally, similarity of the group is an important aspect of the judging, which means that blackface was the best way to ensure that homogeny.

Race Relations

After finishing our discussion on Brazilian deforestation and Carnaval, we moved onto the Telles article about race and race theory. We broke into small groups to discuss the questions: How do contemporary scholars think about race and what it means? How is race defined? How are ideas about race are different in Brazil vs. U.S. and how do they change throughout time?

How do contemporary scholars think about race and what it means?

Dr. Holt read a quote from the American Anthropological Association: “race: a recent idea created by western Europeans following exploration across the world to account for differences among people and justify colonization, conquest, enslavement, and social hierarchy among humans. The term is used to refer to groupings of people according to common origin or background and associated with perceived biological markers. Among humans there are no races except the human race. In biology, the term has limited use, usually associated with organisms or populations that are able to interbreed. Ideas about race are culturally and socially transmitted and form the basis of racism, racial classification and often complex racial identities.” This fit into our discussion that we had been having about race being a social construct. A difference in skin color means absolutely nothing. However, society has placed a meaning onto it through laws and treatments of people with “other” skin tones. In this context, the “other” is any non-white skin tone. Race is arbitrarily placed and historically constructed. Because, historically, white people had more manpower, more violent technology, and a sense of group pride and superiority, they were able to oppress other racial categories.

How is race defined?

Race is defined differently in different societies. In the U.S., genotype determines a person’s race. Here, the “one-drop” theory exists: if one person in your immediate ancestry is black, you are then black. However, in Brazil, your phenotype determines your race. This means that there are significantly more races in Brazil. Darker-skinned persons are negro, but lighter-skinned brown persons are pardo, or even can be blanco.

How are ideas about race are different in Brazil vs. U.S. and how do they change throughout time?

Both the U.S. and Brazil believed in a pseudoscientific idea of race; that the white race was somehow scientifically superior; however, the two countries had vastly different ideas on how to apply this theory to society. In the U.S., segregation—Jim Crowe laws—was legalized in order to keep the races separate and to keep black people from gaining power. Although segregation is no longer legalized, separation of the races is still prevalent through the class system. Lynching, while not legal, was practiced throughout the nation and was barely ever prosecuted. This was very different from Brazil, where nothing was legalized to separate the races from interacting. Elite Brazilians believed in the exact opposite of separation; there existed the theory of “whitening”, meaning that the “mixing” of races—interracial relations—would lead to a whiter population because white genes would win out over lesser, or nonwhite, genes. Because of this ideal, people in Brazil believed that they were more modern or progressive than the U.S. However, Brazil also practiced social “exclusion” which was in reality, nonlegal segregation.

These divulsions from a common practice may have been caused by several elements. First, abolition was a national consensus in Brazil. After the passing of the Golden Law, people celebrated. People had also begun to realize that slavery would be done soon, meaning that they prepared. However, in the States, there was a war over abolition. American citizens were not in any way prepared for emancipation. Secondly, because of the condemnation of interracial relations between white and black people, it made it difficult to move away from segregation. Secondly, the U.S. began as a colony whereas Brazil began as a place solely to farm. Therefore, the U.S. came with their families and Portuguese men did not. This made racial mixing easier in Brazil than U.S.

Key Words

Abre alas: The lead float in a Carnaval parade; often interactive with the dancers

Blackface: The makeup used by a nonblack performer playing a black role; used in U.S. minstrel shows; has a racist connotation as it was used to stereotype black people

Colourism: Discrimination based on skin colour of a person, not race

Favelas: Low-income towns of Brazil

Golden Law: 1888 decree by Princess Isabel declaring emancipation of all slaves

Muvuca: Collecting of seeds from trees and planting them in other areas

Samba enredo: “Samba that tells a story”; song written for a certain parade in Carnaval

Whitening: Social concept that persons could become white through raising of social class, interracial relations

Further Reading:

Beija Flor, Brazil is a Monster:

Use of Blackface in Carnaval

sex and violence in Brazil: carnaval, capoeira, and the problem of everyday life

Examination Questions

  • What exactly does it mean to be Brazilian? In a multiracial society?
  • How does literature perpetuate pseudoscientific fact? eg. Heart of Darkness, True History
  • If race is a social construct, why can we not get rid of racism by simply acknowledging that fact?

Class Notes 2/8


The College of Wooster’s Stieglitz Memorial Lecture is on Monday (2/12) at 7:30pm in Lean Lecture. The title of the lecture this year is called “White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meaning of Race” by Matthew Hughey, a professor from the University of Connecticut.

A blog post is due on Friday (2/16) proposing a potential article that you can edit for the Wikipedia Article assignment, so it would be beneficial to start thinking about what topic interests you sooner rather than later.

Culture Blog Post

Woo did his culture blog post on an article in the Smithsonian about Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that is mixed with dance elements. Woo specifically talked about how the Capoeira has transformed over the years. In the 16th century, Capoeira was only done among enslaved Africans in Brazil to practice defensive attacks so that they could resist European oppression. By late 19th century, the freed slave population moved to urban areas and continued to practice Capoeira for defensive purposes. However, in the 20th century, Capoeira was promoted more as an art form and elites began to support it as well, which allowed it to become the official national sport in 1972. Woo also looked at the portrayal of Capoeira in a video game called Tekken to see how Capoeira plays a role in national identity. Overall, Woo tied this article with the class theme of Brazilian diversity and how Brazilians seek to maintain a culture of their own.

The Day’s Activities

Exploring Primary Sources

After the culture presentation, the class focused on the topic of abolition in Brazil. The specific questions the class took into consideration included: If African slavery was so important in Brazil, how do we explain its abolition? What kinds of sources exist for analyzing slavery and abolition and how do our choices shape the argument we make about the past? In order to tackle the first question, we turned to some primary sources we had for homework from the Brazilian Reader and additional primary sources from Professor Holt. One primary source that we talked about in class was Nabuco’s passage called “Slavery & Society”. Nabuco came from an elite sugar plantation family and was the son of a politician who hated slavery. Thus, Nabuco himself became a famous abolitionist during the 19th century in Brazil. In this passage, Nabuco makes the moral argument against slavery. He claims that slavery has a detrimental effect on Brazil as it morally corrupts society as a whole. Specifically, slavery acts as a huge obstacle to the civilization of Brazil. Nabuco calls Brazilian society hypocritical for tolerating slavery and believes that Brazil is not truly independent until slavery is abolished. The Nabuco primary source allows us to answer how slavery was abolished in Brazil despite its importance in society. Looking at this source only, it can be assumed that slavery was abolished to further civilize society in Brazil, as the social consequences of slavery outweighed the economic benefits. However, by looking at more primary sources, we can get a more complete answer to this question.

Next, we looked at a primary source from Princess Isabel, specifically her final decree of abolition, officially named, “Abolition Decree, 1888.” In the decree, Princess Isabel abolished all slavery and revoked all other laws that stated otherwise. This decree itself abolished slavery, which highlighted the power of the royal family in Brazil at the time. This primary source helped us answer our initial question by considering the power of the elites, specifically the royal family. The other primary source we looked at that was not assigned for homework was a painting called “The Freeing of Slaves” by Pedro Americo in 1889. The painting depicted white people as angels, with the majority of people being women. The white people were all nicely clothed, while the slaves in the painting were naked and depicted as pitiful. This painting depicted abolition as a white gift to black people and, again, suggests that slavery was only abolished because of the elites.

“The Freeing of Slaves” by Pedro Americo in 1889

However, this was not true. The next primary source was a map of the Sao Gancalo Quilombo Minas Gerais from the late 18th century. The fact that the government contained a map of a quilombo hints that the colonial state felt anxious about a possible slave revolt, which suggests that enslaved blacks did try to fight for their freedom and did not just wait for the elites to abolish slavery. This idea was reaffirmed with the next primary source, which was a book confiscated from slaves who attempted to revolt in the Male Revolt in Salvador, Bahia in 1835. This book was worn around the neck and was written in Arabic. This suggests that people planning the revolt were literate and multilingual. It also shows another element to the abolition struggle: possible cooperation between the enslaved and freed.

Map of the Sao Gancalo Quilombo Minas Gerais from the late 18th century

Discussion on Camillia Cowling’s “Debating Womanhood, Defining Freedom: The Abolition of Slavery in 1880s Rio de Janeiro”

After analyzing these primary sources, the class broke into small groups to discuss questions pertaining to the Cowling reading, a secondary source. The questions considered included, What kinds of sources does Cowling use? What is the main argument? How does her research complicate our understanding of slavery and abolition in Brazil? Why is this important? Cowling uses a variety of sources, including letters from slaves, council records, laws, and newspaper articles. Her main argument is that gender and abolition are very connected and that maternalism played a big role in abolition. Overall, she argues that women played a large role in the abolition movement in Brazil, which is often overlooked. Her argument and research complicates our understanding of slavery and abolition in Brazil as the roles of slaves, particularly women, is often not considered in the abolition processes within other countries. Usually, abolition movements are thought of as an elite-led movement, but in Brazil, it is viewed as a legal battle led by enslaved women. This is important to consider when looking at different abolition movements, such as how Brazil was able to minimize violence opposed to the war that broke out in the United States.

By looking at all these primary sources and the informative secondary source, it is clear that one must read many different perspectives on a topic in order to have a more complete understanding of a situation. For example, if we only looked at the primary sources from elites, we would have thought that abolition was an elite led movement. However, by looking at primary sources from slaves and government records as well as the Cowling secondary source, we get a more complete understanding of how the abolition movement work, specifically the huge role enslaved women had.

Key Terms

Quilombo: settlement of runaway slaves

Pano: a headwrap Brazilian women would wear

Christianity: believers in Jesus

Protestant: Christian, but fundamentally different than Catholics due to its emphasis on the bible

Catholics: earliest Christians that are sacrament based, which most Brazilians were in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th centuries.

Links This website gives a timeline on how slavery and abolition played out in Brazil. An article providing an overview of the causes of abolition, including humatarian pressure. Gives an overview of the Free Womb Law and the background on how the law was titled.

Possible Exam Questions

How did women play a role in abolition and how did maternalism play a role as well?

Although the Abolition decrees was passed in 1888, how were freed slaves treated after abolition?

Who were all the actors involved in abolition and how did their efforts intertwine to accomplish the goal of abolition?

Class Notes 2/6/18

Fun class music:


  • With class presentationspicking up it is important to watch timing to have enough time to accomplish everything.
  • Great Decisions Lecture was on Immigration tonight (2/6/18) with Angela Maria Kelly. She is also having a talk on DACA this Thursday (2/8/18) at 4PM.
  • There is a History major information session this Thursday (2/8/18) at 11AM. This meeting is for anyone who is interested/thinking about a History major or double major.

Cultural Blog Post: Japanese Population in Sao Paulo (David)

Class today began with a Brazilian culture blog post discussing the Japanese population in Sao Paulo. David discussed the wave of Japanese immigration to Brazil and how Japanese culture is a large part of Sao Paulo, especially in the neighborhood Liberdade. This presentation tied into class discussions about the formation of a national Brazilian identity.

Class Discussion:  Independence and Construction of Brazilian National Identity

Class today focused around the story of Brazil’s independence from Portugal and the different ways that the story is told. Discussion centered around the formation of a Brazilian national identity:  Who was included as a citizen, excluded, and who had the right to vote. Within this topic, we also looked at the implications of relying on different historical sources to understanding national identity. We began by looking at primary source photos of King Joao VI and Emperor Pedro !, shown below, while discussing the historic tale of Brazilian independence.

After discussing the historical tale of independence, Professor Holt distributed a partial copy of the 1824 Brazilian Constitution. We discussed in small groups after analyzing the document and its implications for who is defined as a citizen of the newly independent Brazil and who had the right to vote. One main aspect of Brazilian citizenship that was discussed was the focus on loyalty. The newly independent kingdom was wary of Portuguese and African populations within the country and their loyalty to Brazil. The 1824 Constitution provided a primary source document on the legal formation of Brazilian national identity during the time of independence. Class ended by looking at Kraay’s argument around the Dois de Julho Celebration versus the national September 7th independence day celebration. He argues that these celebrations showed the anti-Portuguese and anti-African sentiment that existed during the time of independence.

Key Terms:

  • Liberdade, Sao Paulo: Japanese neighborhood in Sao Paulo
  • Emperor Pedro I: First emperor of the newly independent kingdom of Brazil.
  • Household: Households were seen as the primary political unit in early Brazil. They were headed by one main male figure who held the voting rights within the unit.
  • 2 de Julho: Celebration of winning Brazilian independence from the Portuguese, primarily celebrated in Bahia
  • September 7th: Brazilian Independence Day. This day is thought of as the day that Pedro I declared independence through a declaration.

Further Questions:

  1. How have the early ideas shaped how Brazilian identity is seen today? Especially when looking at the construction of race.
  2. In what ways is the story of Brazilian Independence central to Brazilian history and how they view their history today?
  3. In what way do celebrations challenge/show the formation of national identity? Especially how do they show state identity and does that differ from national identity?

More Sources on Topic:

Roett, Riordan. “The Historical Background: Colony, Empire, and Republic.” In The New Brazil, 19-36. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2011.

Kraay, Hendrik. “Between Brazil and Bahia: Celebrating Dois De Julho in Nineteenth-Century Salvador.” Journal of Latin American Studies 31, no. 2 (1999): 255-86.

Barickman, B. J. “Reading the 1835 Parish Censuses from Bahia: Citizenship, Kinship, Slavery, and Household in Early Nineteenth-Century Brazil.” The Americas 59, no. 3 (2003): 287-323.


Class Notes- February 01, 2018


  •  Tons of grades are posted on Moodle
    • Do not be alarmed since Moodle doesn’t not calculate grades correctly
  • There was a reminder sent on Moodle about the group project and a poll  about what time periods would be the best for watching the three movies.

Blog Post- Jordan Griffin 

His blogpost was about the upcoming presidential election in Brazil and how the two main players are on extreme opposite of the left/right political scale. This election is special because it is coming after the impeachment of the previous president and corruption charges brought against the government. The left political opponent is Da Silva and the right-wing candidate is Bolsonaro. They both want to throw out the current system, but want it replaced with something vastly different.

Class Discussion: To Be a Slave in Brazil

When talking about race in Brazil, it is important to note how the idea of race went from a biological trait to an idea that is implemented within society. In order to talk about slavery, we must know the history of sugar plantations.

How Plantations Worked

Portugal set up the first plantation in Bahia in 1549. However, there were already smaller areas  and Brazil was already in the works for the African Diaspora.

Sugar is one of the most labor intensive labor jobs. it required a a hue industrial processing plant. Once you cut the cane, you only have 24 hours before it goes bad due its short shelf life. With the growing of sugar, the first crop yields the most amount of sugar, but it takes 14-18 months. The second yield takes around 8 months, but the more times it is planted and harvested the less and less sugar is yielded.

Once the canes were cut, it was a fast and harsh process to get it milled/processed as soon as possible. This time was somehow an agricultural time, but needed huge technological advancements for  the actual storing and processing. The machines have these huge wooden rollers that are fed the canes and the juice gets squished out. The rollers are wither ox or water powered. Once the juice is ll collected, the liquid needed to be boiled quickly unless it would go bad. The boiling was supposed to evaporate enough of the water so when it cools it will crystallizes.

Historian say sugar was the worst work to ever be done due to the grueling work hours and the danger that comes with it. it was common during harvest time for the slaves to be working 18 hour work days with being extremely malnourished. Working in sugar ended with many accidents. Slave were either  having their limbs cut off while cutting the cane, getting caught in-between the huge wooden rollers, or during themselves while boiling the sugar. Within the system,  slaves can work into becoming high ranking people on the plantations. Bahia had such an awful reputation for the awful conditions, planters would write guides to each other saying “Plan to replace your entire labor force every 7 years.”


When discussing historiography, we need to think about life expectancy and birth rate. With African men being more favorable, there was an imbalance in the sex in Brazil. At some point, death outpaced births. This was also due to the awful working conditions. Sugar was an economic and racist industry. It was racist because it was the whole idea that these people were disposable. Sugar was able to thrive under the idea of othering. Brazil had a different view of slavery due to the social contracts in Iberia and within the Catholic Church/Law. Portugal believed slavery wouldn’t last forever and they also believed in the equality of souls.


Schwarts argument

Schwarts’ argument was about resistance within Brazilian slavery. He makes the argument that this should not be compared to US slavery in regards to which was tougher.  He talked about the quilombous and palmares, slave fugitive communities, how militarized resistance, and cultural/religious resistance.

For Next Week

  • finish up the Wikipedia stuff
  • We will be discussing independence and how that played a role in the way Brazilians view what being Brazilian and Portuguese means.

Class notes 1/30


Class 1/30: The Portugese Colonial Enterprise

Class layout:

  1. Map Quiz
  2. Alberto presented a news story about the rise of evangelicalism and violence against the LGBT community
  3. Discussion of Portugal’s approach to colonization
  4. Look at 4 types of a list of types of colonialism designed by Nancy Shoemaker
  5. Small group discussions about the question, argument, evidence and sources of Muriel Nazzari’s article.
  6. Large group discussion of the small group discussions
  7. Concluding question: What does this teach us about colonialism in Brazil?

Today’s class largely became an examination of how colonialism impacted and shaped ideas of marriage and extra-marital sex through complicated hierarchies of race, class, gender, and birth status showing a small aspect of the countless ways colonialism was far more than an economic system but a system for economic gain that set up a social structure to uphold profits and power. Our in-depth discussion prevented us from talking about the other readings, so the questions we primarily addressed from the schedule were about the Nazzari piece.

What social hierarchies does Nazzari describe?
What structural inequalities do you see?
How do hierarchies of race, class, and gender shape family formation?

We touched on the economic model in Colonial Brazil, and how this model shaped the lived experiences of its inhabitants.

Key Terms:

  1. Transculturation- a process through which two or more cultures interact, mutually transforming each other. Often, such as in examples of colonization, there are underlying inequalities in power of the cultures which influences the ways in which transculturation works and who is favored.
  2. Endogamous-marrying within the same social group
  3. Concubinage—“an illegal and (from the point of view of the church) “immoral” sexual relationship between a man and woman in which the inherent gender inequality was reinforced by the added inequality in property, class, civil status, and/or race” (Nazzari)

Three Questions:

  1. How did the Church and the government work to try to regulate family life? How did some individuals push back against the restrictions?
  2. How did the Portuguese worldview and experience in Europe (especially Iberia) impact ideas of race and religious “superiority” in colonial Brazil?
  3. What do we learn about colonization from Nazzari’s argument?

More Links:

Nancy Shoemaker’s full list of types of colonialism:

An article from The Economist about the far-Right candidate for president in Brazil that Alberto referenced.

More about Portuguese colonization in a global, not Brazilian context:




Towards the end of class, we began a question of historical theory about the use of words like consent as well as acknowledging that these marriages were happening before the modern idea of marriage that considered love a pre-requisite. The question is how to apply (or when to be careful not to apply) the use of present day concepts that did not exist in the era under examination. Nazzari decides to use an outdated term that was used during the era she is looking at because this better captures the relationship without asserting there was no cohersion involved such as the word “consensual” implies.

These questions are also raised in a debate of diagnosing historical characters with mental illnesses or deciding a historical character was queer. The word queer has in someways eased this debate because historians are not having to speculate too deeply into how a person would identify. For instance, it is easier to label a historical character as ambiguously queer than selecting lesbian, gay, or bisexual to be their sexual orientation. However, the application of the word queer to historical characters who lived during eras when queer was a slur makes the application of the word an imperfect solution.

The idea of naming and distinguishing different types of colonialism is interesting for providing quick frameworks for explaining the experiences of various places through colonialism. These classifications also have limits because many places experienced a variety of the categories and local context and peoples contributed to how transculturation developed. They can help with decolonization by building a network of ways different places were subjected to systems that were both very similar and very different. It also helps students from a US background because it discourages the assumption that colonization in other places resembled US colonization.

One component of the reading I would like to examine more is the role of the Church as a regulator of colonial life in this case, regulator of family structure. The church was not as economically driven as other parts of the colonial super structure, although the church benefited economically from the colonial system. (It does not take digging through archives to see how some of the wealth of the colony was invested into churches. The São Francisco Church with all of the elaborate gold art shows the position of the church to anyone who hears of it.) The Church’s role was to create a moral realm to uphold other colonial structures and was discouraged from abandoning this role as the Jesuit expulsion proves. I would be interested to know if the elite used the Church to achieve a sense of money clean of self-interest and replace the sense of wealth as a benefit for a greater good thus cushioning colonial wealth accumulators from the horrors around them. If so, how did this purpose of the Church change or continue after Independence and what impact did that have on marriage?



Class Notes (01/25/18)

Our main activity for today’s class was to work in small groups for the Wikipedia Article assignment. Each group was assigned with a primary source that relates to the history of indigenous people in Brazil. We started off with two presentations organized by our classmates, continued to discuss about technology instructions on Wikipedia, defined credible sources for Wikipedia, and worked with small groups. The class readings were to prepare for the upcoming Wikipedia assignment in groups. Professor Holt assigned several other readings to think about how our Wikipedia pages should be organized. Overall, today’s class focused on learning cultural aspects of Brazil, picking up Wikipedia instructions, working in groups, and planning our Wikipedia page.

Jack’s Presentation: Culture Post
Jack’s presentation discussed the fake news and issues accompanied with such false information in Brazil. He noted how prevalent fake news are in the country. In 2016, false information in the media outperformed and the government began to punish those who promote fake news in social platforms. However, it is impossible to eliminate the presence of fake news in Brazil because of the difficulty tracking the source providers. Moreover, fakes news is delivered and spread out through private messages such as What’s App and Facebook, which even make harder to eliminate fake news. For Jack, police officers and the power focused on law enforcements were interesting. Compared to United States, race and political issues were more dealt in fake news.

Maria’s Presentation: Queermuseu Post
Maria’s presentation discussed an art exhibited hosted at a cultural center in Brazil. The exhibit addressed various issues of gender and sexual diversity. However, the exhibit misrepresented religion in various ways which later developed into a conflict. Consequently, the Santander Bank (sponsored the exhibit) publicly apologized for their misconduct and exhibit was shut down. Maria mentioned a funding opportunity held in New York for re-opening the exhibit, however, the art show remained closed. Maria noted how religion ties with presidents in Brazil, the impact of celebrities, and the issue of gender and sexuality in Brazil.

Wikipedia Instructions:
1) Citation is important – Overcite!
2) Cite manually if there is an error

Credible Sources:
(*Check for abstracts in searching scholarly sources)
1) EBSCO Host (Academic Search Complete):
2) Wooster Library Online Database:
4) Google Scholar:

Small Group:
1) Outline of Wikipedia Page
2) Searching for possible sources
3) Allowed erase Professor’s comments on the Wikipedia page!
She had to put information to create the page.

Potential Examination Questions:
1) What could be credible source?
2) Which information should you cite in Wikipedia?
3) What are the impacts popular social figures in Brazil such as celebrities and politicians can produce across race, gender, and religion?
4) Does Fake News in Brazil plays an important role or serve as a key component in the powerful Brazilian economy?

Class Notes – Tuesday, January 23

Logistical information

TA’s office hours are on Wednesdays 7-8. If this does not work for you, you can email Marina and work other times out with her.

Professor Holt started off class by saying that if you have NOT picked up a book pecha kucha date, you need to do that immediately. She showed two examples in class today from previous classes. If you did not sign up for Class Notes or the News Blog Post, you have been assigned a date already. So, go ahead and sign yourself up for a date/book to present! All these sign up links can be found on the course website.

There is a Great Decisions Series event this year with several speakers. It is called Resurgent Nationalism & and Borderless Problems. Professor Holt has posted the details with regards to this event on our dashboard.

Class Material 

Key Terms:

Treaty of Tordesillas – Signed June 7, 1494, its an agreement between Spain and Portugal aimed at settling conflicts over lands newly discovered or explored by Christopher Columbus and other late 15th-century voyagers.(Brittanica)

Pentimento – A visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas. (Wikipedia)

Primary Sources – In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source is an artifact, a document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, a recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study. (Wikipedia)

Secondary Sources – A document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. (Wikipedia)

Historiography – Entering into the wider scholarly conversation about a research question by analyzing the relevant secondary sources. (Professor Holt)

Iberian Peninsula –  The Iberian Peninsula is a mountainous region that’s most associated with the countries of Spain and Portugal. (Wikipedia)

Class Discussion:

Todays discussion focuses on Brazilian Civilizations Pre-1500 and the Portuguese Empire in 1500. Today’s discussion question is: How and why does the cannibalism come so central to the 16th century European depictions of Brazil?

Background history:

Geography is important in this story. Portugal is a maritime empire on the fringes of Europe. Part of old an mediterranean world. Iberians have a tradition of trying to control muslims and jews even with a long history of coexistence. There are African muslims in Portugal and Spain. The Iberian Peninsula is very special due to its geographical barriers to the rest of Europe. Pyrenees Mountains cut Iberia from europe.

Portugal in the 1400-1500 is putting a lot of effort to develop technology navigation. Developments include: ship building, navigation, cartography, calculating longitude and latitude,  etc. They are thinking of how to get to the Middle East, Africa, and India in shortest time Possible. Portugal and Spain set up trading ports in Africa but did not stay and or conquer. Portuguese are not trying to send farmers to take coastlines, they are trying to establish mercantilism and make money. Enrich people back in Portugal.

Cartography, 16th century. Map of Western Africa. From the Atlas by Lazaro Luis, 1563.

Portugal are controlling global traffic with outside world due to their sophisticated navigation. Portugal did a good job describing a coastal knowledge. Just how they map the coast well in the Lazaro Luis map, they do the same thing with coastal Brazil. They are focusing on colonialism to enrich Portugal rather than settling. Their colonization and exploitation of land is very profitable to the Portuguese. Later, they use their contacts and controls to be the biggest single largest importer of African slaves to produce sugar. Sugar mills were built in Bahia, 1549. They turn to African slavery because of the people they find in Brazil. Native Brazilians would either flee back into the heart of the Amazon or die off from European diseases.

Someone mentions that this statement contradicts the readings because the readings say indigenous people were also enslave, easier to keep, and cheaper to own. Although that is true, Marina said the Portuguese spared the indigenous people because the Pope believed they could be Christianized. The Pope said that Africans have no souls and that indigenous people have not been exposed to Christianity yet, so they must be converted to be saved.

We then broke into Early Brazilian Books Project Groups

We were to discuss our interpretation of the Patricia Seed article: 

We agreed that we need to think critically of the primary sources used because they were written by white European men who were very wealthy at the time. There is only one perspective taken into account.

We agreed Europeans justify their colonization when they see cannibalism as an unorthodox tradition.  This fact was used against the native Brazilian people to deem them as wild and godless. In fact, there are only some isolated tribes that practice cannibalism for warfare, ceremonies, revenge, yet there was a series of over-exaggeration. Most of the people of Brazil actually did not engage in Cannibalism.

We questioned people why people were so obsessed with cannibalism issue if it happened in Europe as well. Catholics also do it. Nudity is also over-expressed as primitive and wild.

Woo mentioned that Indigenous culture was portrayed as nomadic and primitive. Although they acknowledge some skill and sophistication, Europeans choose to generalize and deem these civilizations as primitive.

We came back together as a group and agreed we need to look at secondary sources such as Seed’s work to fully understand the interactions with Brazilians and Europeans. It is important to look at what is given in primary sources and critically analyze their validity, bias, and accuracy.

Further Discussion Questions (Optional):

Why do Europeans completely negate the sophistication of Native-American societies?

Do you believe any Europeans that landed on Brazil truly believed that converting the people would help everyone, or was it just an excuse to take over?