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On Nabuco’s Maritime Imagination


This article argues that Joaquim Nabuco’s abolitionist writings present a sea-based account of Brazilian national development. A critical dialogue with historian Oliveira Martins defines this process as a transition from a deformed colony to a reformed nation: the former enclosed in the immoral South Atlantic of the slave trade, the latter part of an ocean unified under English hegemony and human values. While not ruling out a land-based national life in the future, the author is ultimately skeptical of the idea of a society isolated from the Eurocentric pull of the sea. The article opposes two trends in the specialized literature: equating Brazilian space to Brazilian land and shrinking the reach of Nabuco’s view on world order. Instead, it highlights Nabuco’s transoceanic perspective, presenting him as a maritime thinker of Brazilian political and social reality.

Joaquim Nabuco; maritime imagination; Brazilian political and social thought; transatlantic slave trade; Joaquim Pedro de Oliveira Martins

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