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Revista Brasileira de História

On-line version ISSN 1806-9347

Rev. Bras. Hist. vol.33 no.66 São Paulo July/Dec. 2013

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-01882013000200001 

Foreword

 

 

The present issue of Revista Brasileira de História offers our readers a dossier that showcases samples of how the Brazilian and the international historiography have been approaching the topic "Inclusions and Exclusions". Dealing with diverse contexts in space and time, articles explore the ways in which societies, states, social movements and political groups define the limits of belonging to certain symbolic communities: "the people", "the nation", "race", "class", among others. In those processes, the borderlines between the "insiders" and the "outsiders" decisively affect the conditions of entitlement to rights in a certain order and the acknowledgment of social groups as collective historical agents. Thus, "Inclusion" and "Exclusion" are often opposite poles of the same process, in which the definition of the legitimacy of power structures and existing inequalities or the struggle to overcome them are exposed to tension by conflicts. Identity building, political participation, tolerance and respect for diversity are all issues that, in one way or another, connect to that broader topic, and they are all highlighted in the works gathered here.

The first article in the dossier is "The pangermanists in Africa: inclusion and exclusion of the native peoples in the expansionist plans of the empire, 1896-1914", by Marion Brepohl. Focusing on the impact of racist thought on the policies of territorial expropriation practiced by Germans against natives in the old Southwestern German Africa (present-day Namibia), Brepohl argues that the process was legitimized by the stigmatization of blacks in general and, in a more specific way, by the manipulation of the bushmen myth, created in reference to a local nomadic tribe described by XIX Century pioneers of anthropology as a kind of sub-race, "a body between monkey and man".

In "The political concept of people in the Independence period: history and time in the political debate (1820-1823)", Luisa Rauter Pereira shows how the main political groups active by that time in Brazil clashed around the definitions of who constitute "the people", using scientific, juridical and sociological arguments to sustain more comprehensive or more restrictive views regarding to the boundaries of citizenship.

Renata Figueiredo Moraes, in "A feather-shaped gold pen for the Abolition: the May 13th Law and the popular participation", analyses the collective movement aiming to symbolically integrate a large number of ordinary citizens as active participants in an event seem as the inauguration of a new historical moment in Brazil. Mapping a broader set of manifestations, the author concentrates on the funding campaign carried out by a newspaper with the aim of purchasing a feather-shaped gold pen to be used by the regent princess to sign the law.

In "Workers and urban associations during the Jânio Quadros administration in São Paulo (1953-1954)", Paulo Fontes presents the preliminary results of his research on the petitions filled out by territorial-based popular organization to the office of the São Paulo mayor. The article reconstitutes the complex interplay between the organization and the struggles of São Paulo peripheral areas for their demands in the post-war period and the meteoric trajectory of Jânio Quadros, whose attributes as a popular tribune echoed the presence of workers in the realm of institutional politics. The outlines of the "populist political system" that emerge from Fontes work are quite distinct from the images of amorphous masses manipulated by charismatic leaders that have populated Brazil´s academic and political imaginary for many decades.

Lourival Andrade Júnior, in "Romani and exclusion processes", examines the persecutions suffered by a people marked by their nomadic condition and by the lack of a nation-state of their own. Using a diverse set of sources, Andrade examines how the negative characterization of Romani fed the prejudice upon which the curtailment of their rights was based.

In "The Brazilian Communist Party and João Goulart's Administration", Jorge Ferreira examines the evolution in the standings taken by the most important political force of the Brazilian left during a tumultuous period characterized, on one hand, by mass mobilizations in favor of reforms, and, on the other hand, by the destabilization of the democratic order. Taking distance from the over-simplistic labels that intend to disqualify communist action based on the prior judgment of their strategic and tactical options, the author reconstitutes the context of action shared by political actors faced with challenges and opportunities. As Ferreira shows, anti-imperialism, defense of democracy and fundamental reforms, which synthetize communists political line in that period, did not translate automatically in pre-defined positions face to specific conjuncture challenges. Quite the opposite, they demanded the permanent effort of decoding a dynamic scenario full of uncertainties.

The Portuguese version of the dossier ends with the translation of "Farewell to the Working Class?" ("Adeus à classe trabalhadora?"), by Geoff Eley and Keith Nield. The original version of that article, published by International Labor and Working-Class History in 2000,1 prompted an intense debate, as a result of the provocative assessment of the topic by the authors. Eley and Nield acknowledge the contribution of new theoretical approaches that, since the 1960s, have shaken many of the constitutive beliefs at the roots of Marxist social history. They also highlight how the emergence of new social movements and feminism came to demand a renewal of the historiographical agenda. However, far from proposing the rejection of the concept of class, they offer a sophisticated defense of its persistent validity, inseparable from the imperative of theoretical-methodological update in the examination of traditional topics in social history.

The avulse section contains seven pieces. Covering Brazilian history from the mid-XVII to the early XVIII centuries, we have "Career and social trajectory in the monarchy and the Portuguese overseas empire, governors general of the State of Brazil (1640-1702)", by Francisco Carlos Cosentino, and "A possible mirror of sanctity in colonial Bahia: Mother Vitória da Encarnação (1661-1715)", by William de Souza Martins. In "Local councils and royal education in Portuguese America", Thais Nivia de Lima e Fonseca examines the immediately subsequent period, from mid-XVIII to the first decades of the XIX centuries. Yet, in her article "To write, to tell, to keep: the diary of Santander in European exile (1829-1832)", Libertad Borges Bittencourt deals with a key character in Colombia Independence process. Three other articles focus on political currents in XX Century Brazil: "The corporatist thought in Miguel Reale: readings of Italian fascism in Brazilian integralismo", by João Fábio Bertonha; "Crusade for democracy: catholic activists in republican Brazil", by Ana Maria Koch; and "The PT and the crisis of real socialism: the challenges of renovation and the legacies of traditional lefts", by Izabel Cristina Gomes da Costa.

This issue concludes with four reviews. The first one, written by Samuel Silva R. de Oliveira, analyses a work that focus precisely on the topic of our dossier:  "A Poverty of Rights: Citizenship and inequality in Twentieth-Century Rio de Janeiro", by Brodwyn Fischer. Antonio de Pádua Bosi examines "Cash for your trash: Scrap recycling in America", by Carl A. Zimring. "O pequeno x: da biografia à história", the Brazilian translation of a work by French historian Sabina Loriga, was reviewed by Douglas Pavoni Arienti. Finally, Lidiane S. Rodrigues comments on "A História como ofício: a constituição de um campo disciplinar", by Marieta de Moraes Ferreira.

 

 

Alexandre Fortes

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