cover of book

Brazil and the World System
edited by Richard Graham
University of Texas Press, 1991
eISBN: 978-1-4773-0417-4 | Cloth: 978-0-292-70785-6 | Paper: 978-1-4773-0415-0
Library of Congress Classification HC187.B8658 1991
Dewey Decimal Classification 330.981


Has the world economy shaped and defined Brazil’s economic and political history and, if so, to what extent? Is Brazil’s past to be explained principally by its insertion in a single world capitalist system? The authors of the three essays in this volume reflect critically on these questions along with the following: Should the determining factors be understood as sociological-cultural (as in a heritage of patrimonial rule) or were they based on material reality? What was the connection between the presence of slavery in the Americas and the emergence of capitalism in Europe? What accounts for Brazil’s centuries-long reliance on exports and the slow development of its industry?

The chapters in this book draw contrasting judgments on virtually every major issue in Brazilian history because they begin from divergent premises. In arguing their cause, noted scholars John R. Hall, Fernando A. Novais, and Luís Carlos Soares provide a formidable intellectual point and counterpoint whose theoretical assumptions bear heavily on all social scientists engaged in exploring colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, dependency, and relative international poverty.

Brazil and the World System provides provocative insights not only about Brazil but also about the nature of colonialism in general and its relationship to the rise of capitalism in Europe. It should appeal to Latin Americanists of all disciplinary persuasions as well as to general readers curious about great patterns of change in history. Stuart Schwartz, director of the Center for Early Modern History at the University of Minnesota, says, “ . . . an excellent collection . . . North American scholarship will find these essays an eye-opener.

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