National Academies Press: OpenBook

Field Guide to Brazil (1960)

Chapter: The Nation: Its Divisions

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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"The Nation: Its Divisions." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Page 11

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II. THE NATION: ITS DIVISIONS There are many Brazils—there are two — there is one — this is a problem which bothers Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike. Nowa- days, the drive for industrialization, which in the Western concept im- plies standardization, makes it necessary to create a nationwide image of the "average man." However, the "average man" in Brazil has existed less perhaps than in most other basically Western nations. The very concept of average is foreign to Brazilian culture. The image of Brazilian culture presented to the outside world is usually a resume of the characteristics of a very small, elite part of the population. Many Brazilian authors present this picture as one of considerable cohesiveness . However, the portrait Brazilians have of themselves, for themselves, is quite different. It is primarily characterized by the differences between various segments of the population. The differences are underlined, compared, and relished. Seeing oneself as an individual and one's in- group as different rather than as average is to be Brazilian. Perhaps the effect of social living on the Brazilian individual's ideal conduct should be looked at from the point of view of the effect of environment on culture, permissive and ultimately restrictive, but not necessarily deterministic. This aspect becomes a dilemma with the drive to industrialize and with increasing urbanization. The seeds of a basic cultural change of the self concept are being rapidly planted — progress demands conformity, standardization, and sameness in the material and non-material aspects of life. This is probably more dif- ficult for Brazilians to germinate than it was for other peoples who have preceded them in the industrialization process. Linked with this cultural characteristic of permissive individual- ism, which may be included as part of basic Brazilian culture, are a number of other factors which make for differences and create the seg- ments mentioned above. These factors are historical, regional, and isolation-contact. These tightly intertwined factors have been res- ponsible for the appearance of culture areas in Brazil. Each area shares features of basic Brazilian culture, but each area exhibits specific deviations and traditions. Each shares responsibility for how far these areas have come towards modernity. One non-Brazilian author speaks of "two Brazils" — the archaic and the new. This is an

oversimplification for handling the diversification of cultural data found in Brazil. Brazilians themselves tend to make a superficial division of Bra- zil into two major cultural areas—the North, which corresponds to the archaic, and the South, which corresponds to the new. (See Map 1.) Rio de Janeiro Map 1. The North and The South The North includes roughly the area which would fall to the east of a straight line drawn from Belem to Rio de Janeiro. In a general way the characteristics of the North include tradition and adherence to it, and therefore lack of progress in spite of potential. At the same time intelligence, refinement, and political astuteness are combined with indolence and lack of initiative; uneducated, unaided masses stand in contrast to the few who are favored. The North, and especially Bahia, represents for all of Brazil nostalgia for the good life.

The South, from Sao Paulo to the Uruguayan border stands in contrast. It is the symbol of material progress, of the 20th century and its lack of tradition, foreign influence (through immigration), and somewhat lacking manners, refinement, and the arts of living. For the nation however, the South, and especially Sao Paulo is the new pride—the competitive, the modern—the showcase for the rest of the world. The appearance of a number of culture areas in Brazil is closely linked with the historical development of the nation. This development was characterized by a series of "booms and busts"—or exploitative patterns of settlement and economic cycles. Each economic cycle took place in a different natural area where a series of factors made possible the establishment of civilization and consequent regional adaptations of the old Portuguese colonial culture patterns. Sugar, ores, coffee, rubber, cacao, and cotton were the principal boom products. They were responsible for the regional development of what we now call culture areas. Each development grew rapidly and was then followed by a period of decadence when a new development came into being, and as interest shifted to a new area. The by-passed areas settled back into long periods of economic decadence and cultural stability, intensified by lack of communication with other Brazilian areas and with the rest of the world. This isolation is now being broken down and the old pat- terns are being rudely shaken by industrialization, science, and prog- ress . In a recent article, a prominent Brazilian anthropologist reviews the many attempts at area delineations and points out that, although dif- ferent authors use different criteria for marking off areas, there is general agreement on seven major culture areas: (1) the Amazon, (2) the Dry Northeast, (3) the Northeast Coast, (4) the West, (5) the industrial zone which has its center in Sao Paulo, (6) the mountainous region, and (7) the South. (See Map 2.) The Amazon encompasses basically tropical forest environment associated with the great river and its tributaries. Culturally, it is backward in the sense that economically it continues to depend upon the exploitation of natural resources, especially forest products. Much of the population lives at a bare subsistence level. The scene of the former rubber boom, which crashed in 1912, the Amazon region, waits for the future. The Dry Northeast includes most of the scrubby semi-desert areas of the northern states lying just below the tropical forest environ- ment. This region depends economically on cattle and goat raising, some cotton growing, gathering of nut crops, extracting of waxes, and

OJIMJOp 8! 1. Amazonia 4. The West 2. The Dry Northeast 5. The Industrial Zone 3. The Northeast Coast 6. The Mountainous Region 7. The South Map 2. Culture Areas subsistence agriculture. It is an exciting region, well-known for its messianic movements. Prone to droughts and their disastrous conse- quences, it presents a whole array of problems of a technological nature concerned with bringing the environment under control. This region has a very high birth rate. It supplies the rest of Brazil with migrant workers-—north, south and west—a constant outward flow of people in search of life. The Northeast coast is a rather narrow, lowland strip. It runs from about Rio de Janeiro north to a little above Recife. This coastal

strip was the scene of some of the first settlements and includes the cities of Bahia (Salvador) and Recife, the opulent colonial cities whose wealth was based on sugar cane and slave labor. This is a region which presents fascinating aspects —many of these have been incorporated into the regional literature which is some of the best Brazil has to offer. The sugar boom in this area ended about 1750. The West is probably the least-known area from the point of view of systematic study. It includes parts of Goias and Mato Grosso. It is an area often compared with the old U.S. far west—a last frontier. It will undoubtedly be important soon, due to the shift in national focus caused by the moving of the federal capital to Brasilia. It is a fabulous area from the point of view of natural resources. At the present time it is used for cattle raising and the rivers are sifted for diamonds. Transportation difficulties retard the area's development and discourage study. The industrial zone has its center in Sao Paulo. It is composed principally of a triangle enclosing Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Rio de Janeiro. In reality it is misleading to call it industrial, for this area encloses a large part of the great coffee, cotton, and sugar cane plantations and it supports some of Brazil's best herds of cattle. It is the area of most progress—best roads, transportation systems, pub- lic services, and income per capita. The mountainous region consists of those parts of western Bahia State and Minas Gerais in which the principal activity is mining. This was the scene of Brazil's second historical boom — mining for gold, silver, and diamonds in the 18th century. A second phase seems to be developing at the present time. It is concerned with the search for and development of mines for industrial purposes. Culturally this area presents some interesting facets of colonial living patterns which ex- tend into the present. At least two of the cities of the area have been set aside by the federal government as living museums (Ouro Preto and Rio de Contas). The South includes the states of Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. It is non-tropical, and is peopled by non-Portuguese and recent immigrants from Europe. The South as a region presents an entirely different face to the world. Recent in comparison with the other areas—not yet the scene of any specific boom—the South never- theless presents a picture of slow and steady progress. Its economy has been based on subsistence agriculture, lumbering, cattle raising, wine making, and manufacturing of leather goods. It is now slowly turning to industry. Although the South combines Italian, German,

Slavic and other elements in contrast to the Iberian background of the rest of Brazil, it nevertheless is becoming characteristically Brazilian. Attempts are also being made at dividing Brazil officially into regions, by the Conselho Nacional de Geografia (National Geographic Council). (See Map 3.) All statistical data gathered and presented by the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) follows this regional division. The cultural regions discussed above have one disadvantage here. One state may have territories falling into one, two or more cultural regions (i.e. Bahia) and thus statistics for such regions cannot be found. Recife 1. The North 2. The Middle North 3. The Northeast 4. The East . 5. The Central-West 6. The South Map 3. The Great Regions of the IBGE

The IBGE division creates five regions: 1. North — Rondonia, Acre, Amazonas, Rio Branco, Para and A ma pa 2. Middle North—Maranhao, Piaui 3. Northeast —Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernam- buco, Alagoas 4. East—Sergipe, Bahia, Espirito Santo, Minus Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara** 5. Central-West—Goias and Mato Grosso 6. South—Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. **As of I960, the former federal district (Rio) is now the state of Guanabara. Administratively Brazil is divided into 21 states, four territories, and one Federal District. (See Map 4.) The names of the states are listed above with the territories underlined. Each state has an elected governor and legislature. The territories are governed by a federally appointed administrator. Brasilia, the new federal district, is similar in status to the District of Columbia. The states are divided into municipios (counties), each municipio with an elected prefeito (mayor) and camara (aldermen). In 1957 there were 1,895 municipios. This number continually increases due to the continual splitting up of old municipios and the creation of new ones, as the former distritos (districts) into which municipios are divided reach certain standards of population, income and so on. It is worth noting that the sede de municipio (county seat) regardless of its population size or its income, is formally classified as a city and its population corres- pondingly classified as urban. The social scientist going to Brazil must be aware of these dif- ferent divisions and the meaning of the divisions for Brazilian citizens. Brazilians tend to be regionalistic. They give their primary allegiance to kinship groups which are traditionally connected with a region. With- in any given region, the people tend to be bairristas (locally minded), giving their major emphasis to some given locale within a region, and holding locale and its ways to be better for them than the ways of other locales. 10

Equaior States 1. Amazonas 2. Para 3. MaranhSo 4. Piaui 5. Ceara 6. Rio Grande do Norte 7. Paraiba 8. Pernambuco 9. Alagoas 10. Sergipe 11. Bahia Territories: States Manaus 12. Minas Gerais Belo Horizonte Belem 13. Espirito Santo Vit6~ria Sao L,uis 14. Rio de Janeiro Niteroi Teresina IS. Guana bara Rio de Janeiro Fortaleza 16. S3o Paulo Sao Paulo Natal 17. Parana Curitiba Joao Peaaoa Recife Maceio 18. 19. 20. Sta. Catarina Rio Grande do Sul Goiis Florianopolis Pflrto Alegro Goiania Aracaju 21. Mato Grosso Cuiabi Salvador D.F . —Brasilia A. Rio Branco C. Acre B. Amapa D. RondAnia Map 4. Administrative Divisions 11

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This guide to field research in Brazil is one of a series being issued under the auspices of the Committee on International Anthropology, which was established in 1957 by the Division of Anthropology and Psychology of the National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council. The proposal that such field guides be prepared came from a conference of anthropologists held at Columbia University in December, 1956. The Committee has treated the project as an experimental one, recognizing that the audiences to be addressed are rather diverse, e.g., the research worker with a project and area in hand, graduate training seminars, the social scientist wanting to make professional contacts, and that the materials would have to be stated mostly in general terms.

The purpose of Field Guide to Brazil is to provide information which the research worker, entering an area for the first time, should have in order to plan his trip get clearances from governments, deal with interested scientific institutions and scholars, comport himself properly in relations with local leaders, and establish generally a favorable working status for himself prior to the point where he applies his professional techniques to the problem in hand.

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