Event to launch book setting out new historiographical synthesis of Empire of Brazil
“Império em disputa: coroa, oligarquia e povo na formação do Estado brasileiro (1823-1870)” (“Empire in Dispute: Crown, Oligarchy and People in the Formation of the Brazilian State, 1823-1870)” is a book written by historians Thiago Krause and Rodrigo Goyena Soares, and published by FGV Press. It starts by examining the foundation of the Empire of Brazil and presents a new historiographical synthesis of this period, aimed at both specialists and a broader audience. The book will be launched at events in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, to be attended by the authors.
The launch event in Rio will feature a conversation with the authors, Thiago Krause and Rodrigo Goyena Soares, moderated by Professor Mariana Muaze of Unirio. It will take place on August 17, at 5 pm, in the 12th floor auditorium in FGV’s main building, at Praia de Botafogo, 190. The authors will also be present at the launch event in Sao Paulo, on August 22, at 6 pm, at Livraria Martins Fontes Paulista, Avenida Paulista, 509, Bela Vista.
The book is chronologically ordered and divided into two parts. The first part, about the period from 1823 to 1848, analyzes the process through which the Empire was politically structured and the multiple challenges experienced until its consolidation in symbiosis with coffee farming. It was a period of intense conflicts, in which material constraints, ideological tendencies, international pressures, regional divisions and subaltern mobilizations pushed the country in different directions toward a victorious project.
In the first three chapters, the book investigates how intense politicization in the early years of Brazil’s independence spilled over into the First Reign. The authors argue that past sensitive issues continued to spark debates and clashes, such as the relationship between the court and the provinces, the future of slavery, Brazil’s geopolitical role and the personal power of the monarch. The book then looks at the actions of regional oligarchs, the urban poor, free black people, peasants, indigenous people and slaves, in pursuit of immediate, one-off, abstract or concrete goals. The authors also discuss the ban on trafficking of Africans, indigenous slavery and the approval of greater provincial autonomy.
The oligarchs ended up managing to defend the old social order and meet demand for slave labor in the coffee-growing Paraíba Valley, crushing protest movements between 1837 and 1849 while consolidating the Brazilian state and ensuring territorial unity. Thus, conservatism returned at the end of this first phase of the Empire’s history.
The second part of the book examines a moment of peace centered on slavery. This involved a reformulation of land and financial policies, aimed at guaranteeing the preservation of agricultural interests. Combined with public ambitions, this was a time in which the Brazilian capital, land and labor markets developed, albeit slowly and unevenly. However, the Empire’s successful centralizing goals had to deal with provincial ambitions, especially given the intensification of inter and intra-provincial trade.
The imperial economy, clearly based on agriculture and engaged with the international economy, felt the effects of the first global financial crisis. Brazil then experienced another wave of revolts, rebellions and strikes, signaling the end of this period.
Toward the end of the book, the authors look at the institutional crisis that happened when the liberals returned to power and quickly formed the Progressive Party, in opposition to the “regressive” movement of the 1830s.
Finally, as the 20th century drew closer, this era came to an end, marked by the financial impact of the Paraguayan War and the end of slavery in the United States, which led to the passing of the “Law of the Free Womb” in Brazil. The country’s center of production then shifted to Sao Paulo, while Rio de Janeiro continued to control the government budget and banking sector.
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