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Brazilian Cultural Theory


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


There is a variety of ways of practicing cultural theory in Brazil, but the tradition that has the most to contribute to an analysis of the specificities of the functioning of national culture in peripheral countries is the one that flourished around the University of São Paulo in the mid-twentieth century. This tradition was able to surpass the dualities that structure the definitions of the meaning of culture in ex-colonies and offer an original theoretical contribution to this ongoing discussion. At least since the Proclamation of Independence in 1822, by the son of the metropolitan king, the cultural debate in Brazil has been locked, predictably, in two inescapable, though false, questions: should the new country have a culture of its own (as if that existed), or should it imitate (as if it were avoidable) the “genuine culture” that came, in the nineteenth century, from Europe and the later one from the United States? This question is, of course, the expression, in cultural terms, of the dualities that mark all the spheres of social life in new countries: the productive impetus is to be found in the metropolis; the former colonies would merely reflect and submit to the forces emanating from the headquarters of hegemonic powers, which function both as models and as untenable goals. From this basic position derive all the other correlated binaries: metropolis/colony, progress/backwardness, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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