Stephan Laurence Kaplan's Farewell, Revolution provocatively explained how contemporary French political culture came to terms with its past in the celebration of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. Reflecting the sentiments of many French men and women, both scholars and in the general public, Kaplan's title refers to the contemporary desire to end the revolution once and for all by separating day to day politics from their imbrication in the historical memory of the Revolution of 1789. Ironically, while many individuals in Western Europe have sought to distance themselves from the sometimes violent revolutionary tradition associated with Robespierre, many Third World writers and governments--especially in Latin America--have actively embraced the French Revolution of 1789 as the inspiration of whatever liberty, democracy, and progress could be found in their midst. Nowhere was this more evident than in Brazil. For months, popular periodicals like Istoé Senhor published articles on the legacy of the French Revolution in Brazil. Books appeared on the Inconfidência Mineira as emblematic of the effect of the Revolution in Brazil, although the Inconfidência broke out in April, 1789, before the Revolution could have impacted a country an ocean away. Mesbla, a department store, constructed a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Rio de Janeiro under which magnificent fireworks celebrated the Franco-Brazilian revolutionary tradition on July 14, 1989. What is in some ways most remarkable about this interest is that 1989 was the centennial of the formation of the Brazilian Republic and marked just slightly more than a hundred years of a Brazil without slavery.
How a country or a group in a country remembers the past critically shapes that country's or group's identity. History plays an important role in remembrance in that it masks particularistic interests by placing them in a seemingly neutral narrative of events that excludes other events and interests. Though most--if not all--nations are imagined communities and though most--if not all--traditions have been invented, the fabrication of a French revolutionary tradition in Brazil appears to be more than a curiosity. Most important, the fashioning of a continuity between the French Revolution and modern Brazilian history seems to be part of a rhetorical technique to create a sense of community among people who were deeply divided by race, class, region, and gender. The purpose of this project is to examine the process by which some Brazilians fashioned a revolutionary tradition by appropriating certain events and understandings of the French Revolution of 1789 into their contemporary political culture. The project simultaneously explores theoretical issues in memory and history as it utilizes hypermedia to question the narrative of a French Revolutionary tradition in Brazil.
The Fashioning of a Revolutionary Tradition
Brazil at the Time of the French Revolution
The Formation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889
Democracy and Republicanism in 1989 Brazil
Imaginary History and Brazilian Identity
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