HIS 163B: The Country of the Future? The history of modern Brazil, from 1808 to the present.

Lecture—3 hours; written reports. The history of the Brazilian republic from 1889 to the present. Offered in alternate years. GE credit: ArtHum or SocSci | AH or SS, WC, WE.


José Juan Pérez Meléndez






Fall 2017


A country of around 207 million whose territory exceeds that of the continental U.S., Brazil has long mesmerized outsiders as much as Brazilians themselves. In the last quarter century, the would-be World Cup and Olympic host set itself apart from neighboring nations in its emergence as a regional powerhouse in Latin America and a key player in global commerce before falling into a deep political and economic crisis. The country’s past, however, serves to think beyond Brazil’s present as a boom-and-bust story and, more importantly, about its future and what it may tell us about global north-south dynamics. This course is an introduction to the many facets of Brazil and its relationship to the wider world from 1808 to the present day. Touching on race, gender, migration, sexuality, capitalism, and indigenous issues, the course will chart the changing contours of Brazilian society as well as the historical development of the Brazilian political system. Running counter to Brazilian musician Antônio Carlos Jobim’s ironic maxim that “Brazil is not for beginners,” the course proposes that Brazil’s history is not just the best place to begin to understand a very unique and paradoxical society, but also to engage some of the most pressing dilemmas of the modern world. Lectures will be based on a broad array of reading, listening, and viewing materials ranging from jongo work songs intoned by slaves to reports on human rights abuses in the dictatorship period. Recent works on history as well as current news and events will also figure front and center.