In This Review

Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 1930-1945
Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 1930-1945
By Daryle Williams
Duke University Press, 2001, 312 pp

This original study explains how Brazilian national identity was invented during Getœlio Vargas' populist dictatorship in the 1930s. Williams looks inside the cultural bureaucracy of the Brazilian "New State" and draws on a remarkable array of sources (including film, radio, museums, and public architecture) to demonstrate how "Brazilianness" was self-consciously manufactured. Other historians have already shown how Vargas altered many state institutions for good. Now Williams has gone beyond that to show how deliberate Vargas was in creating Brazil's modern national identity when he dispensed with democratic legislative processes and expanded and strengthened the federal government. That move spawned new federal agencies for labor relations, industrial policy, and commerce, which in turn coordinated national policies in education, health, labor, and eventually culture. In fact, many of the great figures of Brazilian modernism -- Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Augusto Meyer, Mario de Andrade, and Graciliano Ramos, among others -- all maintained intimate contacts with the Vargas state. This brilliant book will be highly controversial in Brazil and a catalyst for much future research and debate.