Brazil's Living Museum

Brazil's Living Museum: Race, Reform, and Tradition in Bahia

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Brazil's Living Museum
    Book Description:

    Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia has built its economy around attracting international tourists to what is billed as the locus of Afro-Brazilian culture and the epicenter of Brazilian racial harmony. Yet this inclusive ideal has a complicated past. Chronicling the discourse among intellectuals and state officials during the period from the abolition of slavery in 1888 to the start of Brazil's military regime in 1964, Anadelia Romo uncovers how the state's nonwhite majority moved from being a source of embarrassment to being a critical component of Bahia's identity.Romo examines ideas of race in key cultural and public arenas through a close analysis of medical science, the arts, education, and the social sciences. As she argues, although Bahian racial thought came to embrace elements of Afro-Brazilian culture, the presentation of Bahia as a "living museum" threatened by social change portrayed Afro-Bahian culture and modernity as necessarily at odds. Romo's finely tuned account complicates our understanding of Brazilian racial ideology and enriches our knowledge of the constructions of race across Latin America and the larger African diaspora.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0408-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION. Between Africa and Athens: Bahia’s Search for Identity
    (pp. 1-12)

    The northeastern state of Bahia occupies a critical position in Brazil’s imagination and in its history. Alternately romanticized and denigrated, it has served both as a cradle of Brazilian national identity and as an embarrassing symbol of Brazil’s backwardness. More recently, Bahia has played a central role in representing Brazil’s African roots, both for Brazilians and for the millions of tourists who travel to Salvador, the state capital. It has become universally accepted that Afro-Bahians—whose ancestors were brought forcibly with the Atlantic slave trade, and who still today represent the vast majority of the population—have maintained a cultural...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Finding a Cure for Bahia
    (pp. 13-46)

    Bahia’s public health reformers never convinced Catholic authorities to take action against the malicious germs lurking in their sanctuaries, but goals of disinfected and hygienic churches remained symbolic of their modernizing, reformist vision for society as a whole. With the final abolition of slavery in 1888 and the advent of a new federal republic the following year, Bahian society entered a particularly anxious era that fostered ambitious views of modernization and reform. Doctors had long been authority figures in Salvador, the site of one of only two medical schools in Brazil. With the turn of the century, however, they insisted...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Contests of Culture
    (pp. 47-85)

    Brazil’s revolution of 1930 ushered Getúlio Vargas into the presidency and shifted power away from the nation’s traditional oligarchies. Bahia’s elite faced the future uncertainly as federally appointed governors, or interventors, replaced them in office. They referred scornfully to Interventor Juracy Magalhães (a native of Ceará) as aforasteiro, or foreigner, and used him as a foil to what they deemed an “authentic” Bahian identity. Such rhetoric about the outside disruption of true Bahian ideals concealed real fears about the future: the revolution’s vague agenda of centralization and national regeneration offered unclear benefit for Bahia. Furthermore, the populist appeals made...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Preserving the Past
    (pp. 86-112)

    Bahia’s Afro-Brazilian Congress had begun to alter the atmosphere of Salvador, but Edison Carneiro was not there long enough to savor its results. In 1939 he relocated to Rio de Janeiro to research the “regional ethnography of black and indigenous” cultures in several Northeastern states for the National Museum, returning to Bahia only for short research expeditions. The director of Brazil’s National Museum, Heloisa Torres, gave him an official letter of introduction for his efforts, asking state and local authorities to cooperate with him.¹ Such introductions were increasingly necessary. The semiauthoritarian dictatorship of the Estado Novo (1937–45) monitored and...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Debating African Roots
    (pp. 113-132)

    The U.S. sociologist Donald Pierson memorably characterized the city of Salvador in the late 1930s as “not unlike a medieval city surrounded by African villages.” His adviser’s introduction to his work employed much of the same language: Salvador’s spatial juxtaposition permitted one to walk though “Europe on the ridges” of the city’s hills and hear “the insistent boom of African drums . . . from Africa in the valleys.”¹ Paradoxically, these descriptions highlight the racial divisions of the city that Pierson’s book attempted to explain away, but they are also significant for their view of Salvador as a city of...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Embattled Modernization and the Retrenchment of Tradition
    (pp. 133-150)

    The forced resignation of Getúlio Vargas in 1945 brought the start of redemocratization and a sense of national renewal and hope. Brazil would start again to build its future, and the policies of the late 1940s and 1950s were imbued with an optimistic push toward modernization.¹ President Juscelino Kubitschek, elected in 1956, reflected the euphoria of the period, promising the progress of “fifty years in five.” Bahians in the postwar era saw their world rapidly changing. The discovery of petroleum in Bahia (uncovered during the Estado Novo) brought hopes of a revival as the Northeast recorded the highest levels of...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 151-160)

    In 1950 the newly constructed Hotel of Bahia unveiled a fresh mural for its “typical restaurant.” As José Valladares described it for the newspaper ATarde, the mural presented scenes from “historic and picturesque Bahia,” with the Candomblé deity Iemanjá joining Baianas in the ritual washing of the church of Bomfim. Yet in his phrasing Valladares revealed one of the central tensions in Salvador and Bahia as a whole: the traditions described as “historic” were still alive, occupying a space in the present dynamic of the city.¹ Two years earlier he had similarly conflated past and present in promoting Salvador...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 161-194)
    (pp. 195-216)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 217-221)