Social Change and Populist Politics in Brazil: The Baixada Fluminense and the Legendary Tenorio Cavalcanti, 1945-1964
AuthorRalston, Tyler Andrew
AdvisorBarickman, Bert J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis project examines the Baixada Fluminense (or simply the Baixada), in metropolitan Rio. It specifically analyzes how rapid urbanization affected political and social change during Brazil's reasonably democratic 1945-1964 period. More specifically, I analyze how local-level populist politics, the accelerated social transformation resulting from industrialization, urbanization, violence, the press, and changes in the countryside not only affected the areas residents, but reflected trends, transformations, and major shifts on the national level as well as in Latin America as a whole. In effect, I argue that national issues became local issues, and vice-versa. This project, through a close textual analysis of both archival and printed sources, analyzes the political career of Tenório Cavalcanti, the region's dominant politician and strongman (known as the "Man in the Black Cape") as a an entry point into various aspects political and social climates on both the local and national levels. The Baixada, previously an agricultural area, became a center of industry with a population of nearly one million by 1960. The new arrivals to the Baixada included impoverished migrants from the countryside as well many of the urban poor from nearby Rio de Janeiro who sought both employment and living accommodations within their financial means. Tenório, whose career as a populist politician spanned this entire period, reflected the demographic, social and political changes in his electorate. His gradual shift from right to left (as a result of an increasingly radical and organized lower class constituency in both the city and the countryside) exemplified this phenomenon. I also challenge the notion of the "Populist Republic"- the nickname commonly given to the 1945-1964 period. By fully acknowledging that populism existed on a large scale, and that it is generally viewed in a negative light from both the left and the right, I argue that many of the problems of the democratic period (and the populist politics that dominated the era) resulted as much from systemic limitations and an incomplete transition to democracy as it did from corruption and demagoguery (by-products of these very limitations).
Degree ProgramGraduate College