A Place in Politics

São Paulo, Brazil, from Seigneurial Republicanism to Regionalist Revolt

A Place in Politics

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 4 maps Published: April 2009

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Brazil, Politics > Political Science

A Place in Politics is a thorough reinterpretation of the politics and political culture of the Brazilian state of São Paulo between the 1890s and the 1930s. The world’s foremost coffee-producing region from the outset of this period and home to more than six million people by 1930, São Paulo was an economic and demographic giant. In an era marked by political conflict and dramatic social and cultural change in Brazil, nowhere were the conflicts as intense or changes more dramatic than in São Paulo. The southeastern state was the site of the country’s most important political developments, from the contested presidential campaign of 1909–10 to the massive military revolt of 1924. Drawing on a wide array of source materials, James P. Woodard analyzes these events and the republican political culture that informed them.

Woodard’s fine-grained political history proceeds chronologically from the final years of the nineteenth century, when São Paulo’s leaders enjoyed political preeminence within the federal system codified by the Constitution of 1891, through the mass mobilization of 1931–32, in which São Paulo’s people marched, rioted, and eventually took up arms against the national government in what was to be Brazil’s last great regionalist revolt. In taking to the streets in the name of their state, constitutionalism, and the “civilization” that they identified with both, the people of São Paulo were at once expressing their allegiance to elements of a regionally distinct political culture and converging on a broader, more participatory public sphere that had arisen amid the political conflicts of the preceding decades.


“[A]n instructive reminder that political power is often best studied from the inside out, through precisely the sorts of careful political and intellectual genealogies that are this book’s greatest strength. It should be a touchstone for anyone who wishes to understand the surprisingly complex and nuanced arena of formal politics in São Paulo during Brazil’s First Republic.” — Brodwyn Fischer, American Historical Review

“Woodward's work is extremely rich in source material, including legislative addresses, campaign materials, commercial and union-based newspapers, all of which are compiled to provide an original look into the different groups of paulistas who were involved in determining the course of local politics in the most influential federative entity during the early years of the young Brazilian Republic. Thus, A Place in Politics shows that São Paulo elites were more diverse than they had been portrayed in traditional historiography. Furthermore, the book shows that Republican ideals could carry different meanings to different social segments, both in the capital and in the interior portions of the state.” — Rafael R. Ioris, EIAL

“[T]his is what stands out about his project: it does not adhere to traditional issues of the historiography of this period but takes a long view encompassing the transformations of the organization and functions of political life in the state of São Paulo and Brazil. The author carries out this difficult task with considerable ability and skill, bringing together knowledge of traditional issues widely discussed in Brazilian historiography — the República Velha (Old Republic), the politics of the state governors, coronelismo, industrialization, modernism and the 1920s crisis, the ‘ruining’ of the coffee oligarchy, and the 1930 revolution — without losing himself in a tangled web of documents and bibliographical research.” — Adriano Luiz Duarte, Hispanic American Historical Review

“For the uninitiated, following the detailed intrigues among political rivals—some of whom change sides over the course of their lives—can be challenging. James P. Woodard is to be congratulated for guiding us through this challenging topic. The will be a must read for all those interested in Brazilian politics for years to come.” — Mary Ann Mahony, Journal of Social History

“In A Place in Politics, James P. Woodard masterfully and meticulously unpacks the traditional reading of these four decades and offers a fresh and provocative rethinking of the dynamics of public life and political participation in the early twentieth century.” — James N. Green, Bulletin of Latin American Research

“James Woodard provides a rewarding mixture of new and old political historical approaches in this confidently written and richly researched book. . . . A Place in Politics proposes a bold reassessment of early twentieth-century politics that will appeal to Brazilianists and non-Brazilianists alike. In its strong conceptual project—and even more in its thoughtful elaboration of that project—Woodard’s book is a welcome contribution to Latin American political history.” — Roger A. Kittleson, The Americas

“Woodard’s A Place in Politics is an original, culture-oriented reconstruction of São Paulo politics from the decade preceding the fall of the monarchy, in 1889, to the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. . . . A Place in Politics is a detailed and well-documented study.” — Leone Campos de Sousa, Ethnic and Racial Studies

“Woodard’s study offers an elegantly crafted narrative on paulista republicanism and political culture and presents a nuanced view of the political conflicts of the 1920s . . . With a frequently penetrating provocative writing style, Woodard takes us through the different interconnected social layers of the Old Republic in an interpretive tour that brings new light into a too often distorted, politicized, and mishandled historical moment. With a rhetorical broadsword and a fearless abandon, he directs his most cogent criticism at the particular kind of historically constructed identity that is nationalism. His investigation of this vital transitional period is a gift to professionals and students of Brazilian political history.” — Cristina Mehrtens, H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews

A Place in Politics offers a rare revisionist interpretation that makes its case without simply turning conventional wisdom on its head. While James P. Woodard elegantly eviscerates the enduring belief that Republican politics in São Paulo ‘was the exclusive preserve of the comfortable few,’ he does so not by discovering some alternative (and fanciful) popular political sphere, but by revealing the layers of participation and dynamic engagement in everyday paulista politics. This book is a remarkable accomplishment and a joy to read.” — Barbara Weinstein, author of For Social Peace in Brazil

A Place in Politics will immediately make James P. Woodard one of the outstanding authorities in current debates on the nature of popular political participation in early-twentieth-century Brazil. It is a deeply researched, masterful analysis of politics in São Paulo at that time.” — Bryan McCann, author of Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

James P. Woodard is Assistant Professor of History at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

A Note on the Orthography of Brazilian Portuguese xiii

Introduction 1

1. São Paulo as a Developing Society 16

2. A Republic of Layers 32

3. War and the Health of the State 71

4. Knaves, Pedants, and Rebels 108

5. An Experiment in Democracy 143

6. Moments and Truths 188

Conclusion and Epilogue: Politics, Culture, and Class in the History of Twentieth-Century Brazil 213

Glossary of Portuguese Terms 239

Notes 243

Bibliography 369

Index 393
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4329-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4346-2
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