Class Mates: Male Student Culture and And the Making of a Political Class in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Class Mates: Male Student Culture and And the Making of a Political Class in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Class Mates: Male Student Culture and And the Making of a Political Class in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Class Mates: Male Student Culture and And the Making of a Political Class in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Synopsis

This innovative study considers how approximately seven thousand male graduates of law came to understand themselves as having a legitimate claim to authority over nineteenth-century Brazilian society during their transition from boyhood to manhood.

While pursuing their traditional studies at Brazil's two law schools, the students devoted much of their energies to theater and literature in an effort to improve their powers of public speaking and written persuasion. These newly minted lawyers quickly became the magistrates, bureaucrats, local and national politicians, diplomats, and cabinet members who would rule Brazil until the fall of the monarchy in 1889.

Andrew J. Kirkendall examines the meaning of liberalism for a slave society, the tension between systems of patriarchy and patronage, and the link between language and power in a largely illiterate society. In the interplay between identity and state formation, he explores the processes of socialization that helped Brazil achieve a greater measure of political stability than any other Latin American country.

Excerpt

A Brazilian writer in the early twentieth century recalled of his father, a magistrate and politician: “For him, Brazil only existed because of the law school in São Paulo.” From that school emanated the “integration of the national spirit in the political and juridical order.” To understand Brazil’s distinctive development as an independent nation, one has to look at this school and its sister institution in the northeastern province of Pernambuco as well as the complex process of political class formation that took place in these two locations during the imperial period (1822–89). Although Brazil clearly did not exist solely because of these institutions, the young men who passed through the law schools’ doors left an indelible mark on the country’s political culture and structures of power. They were the victors in the postcolonial struggle for authority that characterized much of nineteenthcentury Latin American political life. I wrote this book to explain the intertwining of education and power in nineteenth-century Brazil and how a small group of men were socialized, and socialized themselves, until they developed a sense of common identity as the legitimate leaders of their society.

In the decades following independence from Spain and Portugal, the new Latin American nations sought to create functional state governments and bureaucracies. Few were successful. the complex and convoluted process of independence in most of the former Spanish colonies resulted in the establishment of new political norms and paths to power. Political violence and personalistic rule hindered the development of the state in much of Spanish America. Those individuals seeking to establish civilian supremacy over political institutions found themselves struggling with other heroes of the independence movement who derived their legitimacy from achievements on the battlefield. Many colonial administrators had themselves been . . .

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