Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity

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Autos and Progress reinterprets twentieth-century Brazilian history through auto-mobiles, using them as a window for understanding the nation's struggle for modernity in the face of its massive geographical size, weak central government, and dependence on agricultural exports. Among the topics Wolfe reaches by cars are the first sports cars and elite consumerism, intellectuals' embrace of cars as the key for transformation and unification of Brazil, Henry Ford's building of a company town in the Brazilian jungle, the creation of a transportation infrastructure, democratization and consumer culture, auto workers and their creation of a national political party, and the economic and environmental impact of autos on Brazil. This focus on Brazilians' fascination with automobiles and their reliance on auto production and consumption as keys to their economic and social transformation explains how Brazil-which enshrined its belief in science and technology in its national slogan, "Order and Progress"-has differentiated itself from other Latin American nations. Autos and Progress engages key issues in Brazil around the meaning and role of race in society and also addresses several classic debates in Brazilian studies about the nature of Brazil's great size and diversity and how they shaped state making.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Convincingly demonstrates an extraordinary range of cultural, social, political, and economic influences that increasing 'automobility' had on Brazilian society." —American Historical Review

"Autos and Progress casts new light on an old subject—Brazil's struggle to become a modern nation. Joel Wolfe wonderfully blends the history of technology, business, consumer culture, and politics to show how the automobile and trucks played a central role in the integration and creation of the Brazilian nation. His book is a major contribution to Brazilian and Latin American history."—Marshall C. Eakin, Vanderbilt University

"Autos and Progress provides an important new way to understand the Brazilian obsession with modernity. Joel Wolfe shows how Brazilians linked technology and consumerism by investigating a wide range of topics relating to automobilism, including the relationship between Formula 1 racing and nation-building and the connection between auto workers and democracy. Autos and Progress teaches us that motorized vehicles were more than tools for creating a modern state; they were important cultural symbols of twentieth century Brazilian national identity."—Jeffrey Lesser, Emory University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195174564
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/16/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Wolfe is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of Working Women, Working Men: São Paulo and the Rise of Brazil's Industrial Working Class, 1900-1955.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 First Cars: Curiosities of the Elite 13

Chapter 2 The Coming of Tropical Modernity: Automobiles and the Question of Nation 33

Chapter 3 Americanism and Fordism: The Search for a Brazilian El Dorado 61

Chapter 4 Nationalist Development: Getúlio Vargas and the Integration of Brazil 91

Chapter 5 The Multinational Solution: Juscelino Kubitschek and the National Auto Industry 113

Chapter 6 From Technocrats to Democrats: Automobility and Citizenship 145

Epilogue: Tropical Modernity in a Globalized Space 179

Notes 189

Index 265

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