Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. Brazilian Authoritarianism: Past and Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2022. xxii + 297 pages. Hardcover, $29.95.

AuthorCruz, Jose de Arimateia da

Brazil is a sui generis nation. It is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a continental dimension bordering every country in the region. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population, and it is an economic powerhouse in South America with the ninth-largest economy in the world. Mention Brazil, and images of the Rainforest, the Amazon, Rio's beaches, football or soccer, and the Carnival automatically come to mind. However, not everything is wonderful in paradise. Lilia Moritz Schwarcz's Brazilian Authoritarianism: Past and Present, provides a broader overview of Brazil's long fascination with authoritarianism and centuries of racially motivated brutality and exploitation of its poor, Blacks, and the Indigenous population. Lilia Mortiz Schwarcz is a professor of anthropology at the University of Sao Paulo and visiting professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton University. She is a prolific writer and scholar.

In this tour de force and must-read book, Schwarcz takes the reader on a journey over five hundred years of history. She meticulously takes the readers from Brazil's colonization to the present day, showing that Brazil's socio-inequalities have their roots in the social construction of the nation. Schwarcz also shows that eight fundamental principles in Brazil's society (Slavery and Racism, Bossism, Patrimonialism, Corruption, Social Inequality, Violence, Race and Gender, and Intolerance) are intrinsically tied to the past and contribute to Brazil's present-day vicissitudes. Schwarcz's primary objective in Brazilian Authoritarianism: Past and Present is to identify some of the roots of authoritarianism in Brazil, which flourishes in the present but is nonetheless intimately tied to the country's five hundred years of history (pg. 15).

As Schwarcz argues, the ideal of Brazil's historiographic is usually derived from four assumptions (pg. 11). Though widely accepted and continuously repeated; those four assumptions are mistaken about Brazil. It does not reflect Brazil's contemporary realities. The first assumption is that Brazil is a "uniquely harmonious country, free of conflict." This first assumption is usually closely associated with the myth of Brazil as a racial democracy. The second assumption is that since Brazil is a racial democracy, it cannot have any form of hierarchy and resolves its conflict in a cordial and considerable matter. Brazil is a very hierarchical...

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