In The Formation of Souls: Imagery of the Republic in Brazil, José Murilo de Carvalho examines the birth of the Brazilian Republic in 1889. Given that the majority of the population of Brazil participated very little in the change from an empire to a republic, what allowed the new government to consolidate its power? As a part of the answer to this question, Carvalho analyzes a collection of republican symbols, images, allegories, and myths of the period as attempts by various republican political elites to shape the collective social imagination. As Carvalho explains, the expansion of popular participation in republican ideals would have been nearly impossible through a purely theoretical, ideological discourse, so it had to be achieved by more universal, accessible means, appealing to collective sentiment through stories and images of heroes and founding fathers, images of women, and national flags and anthems.
In this concise but heavily illustrated study, Carvalho demonstrates how the foundational symbols created for the new republic reflected important ideological battles over the nature of the new Brazilian regime. He evaluates the acceptance or rejection of these symbols by the public, that is, their efficacy or failure in promoting the legitimization of the new political system and redefining the collective identity of Brazilians.
Available for the first time in an English translation, The Formation of Souls: Imagery of the Republic in Brazil will appeal to all students and scholars of history, political science, and Latin American studies who are interested in one of the key moments of Brazilian political history.
"The book that is now arriving in the hands of English-language readers was first published in 1990 and in the following year received the Jabuti Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Brazil. Since then, it has become indispensable to an understanding of Brazil. The Formation of Souls owes its success not only to the originality of its research and its analytic consistency but also to its place within the larger body of work of José Murilo de Carvalho, an author with one of the most consistent and celebrated research agendas in Brazil." —from the foreword