History of movements and social relations

Research projects:

Culture, domination, and resistance

Description: Analysis of social movements that resulted in forms of resistance to class, state and cultural domination.

Professor in charge: Wilson do Nascimento Barbosa (wbarbosa@usp.br)


Dimensions of the Portuguese Empire: investigations about the structures and dynamics of the Old Colonial System

Description: This thematic project aims to develop a diverse set of research activities within the problematic scope of the Portuguese Empire, especially for the Atlantic region, since the onset, with the circumnavigation of Africa in the 15th century, until the first quarter of the 19th century, with the establishment of the Luso-Brazilian Empire in Rio de Janeiro. However, the dominant emphasis focuses on the Modern Period (16th-18th centuries). The members of the project are professors of the Department of History of USP, of the Institute of Economics and Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences of UNICAMP, and researchers from CEBRAP. The locations where the project will be conducted are: the Chair Jaime Cortesão, allocated at FFLCH-USP and endowed with its own resources thanks to the agreement signed with the Camões Institute in Lisbon; and also the Economic History of the Institute of Economics at UNICAMP.

Professor in charge: Laura de Mello e Souza (laurams@usp.br)


Political structures in the Old Colonial System

Description: In this research project - linked to the project Dimensions of the Portuguese Empire coordinated by Professor Laura de Mello e Souza, with the support of FAPESP, we propose the study of the political relations between the several spheres of power in Portuguese America and in the Kingdom, so we can understand their structures and dynamics, in the peculiarity that is constitutive of the formation process of the Portuguese Empire. We aim to understand the complexity and the diversity of the governmental structures created with the Portuguese maritime expansion, as well as the different political projects that conducted the formation process of colonial societies, according to specific interests, since the metropolis or in the overseas territories. This research line aims to conceptualise various structures and political dynamics from the Old Colonial System, to make the idea of system more complex.

Professor in charge: Pedro Luis Puntoni (puntoni@usp.br)


Borders in Movement: Displacements and other dimensions of life experience

Description: The objective of this project is to produce knowledge about the contemporary migratory movements, social practices and symbolic resignification of groups of refugees and those who remain in the territory of origin, but are driven by inflows of globalisation, to find a new life. The project is based on studies that identify the borders as territories produced simultaneously as physical spaces (intra and supranational) and as spaces of symbolic dispute and construction of subjectivities (clearly, in the experiences of peripheral populations of metropolis). Multiple and changing borders, human condition of the refugee in search of better survival situations, and territories where lifestyles, values and identity bonds are recreated and blended.

Professor in charge: Zilda Marcia Gricoli Iokoi (zilda@usp.br)


Kings’ Escapes: the vicissitudes of three peripheral kingdoms in the context of the Napoleonic invasions (1798-1815)

Description: This project aims to study the relationships between the arrival of the Bragança family in Brazil, in late 1807, the departure of the Savoia family to Sardinia, which occurred in two periods - 1799 and 1806 -, and of the Bourbon of Naples to Sicily. The three exiles took place in the context of the Napoleonic expansion in Europe, which annexed Piedmont and Naples in 1798 (in the latter case autonomy was between 1801 and 1806), and Portugal in 1807. The King of Sardinia returned to Turin in 1814, the King of Naples returned to his capital in 1815, and the King of Portugal returned to Lisbon in 1820. Nothing since then would be the same: Brazil was lost and Portugal became liberal, while in Italy bases of unification were established, which from 1820 would be orchestrated by the House of Savoia. My hypothesis is that the common elements that unite the episodes provide a comparative study and constitute a case of what has been called ‘connected histories’ by the Indian historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam, allowing to consider the influence of the Savoia’s episode on the migration of the Bourbon and Bragança houses. Within the comparative connection, and despite picking up the common elements that allow the comparison, the study ensures the specificity of their historical contexts, without which the discipline of History is not possible. The existing documentation in Brazil – at the National Archives, in the Itamaraty Archive and in the Section of Manuscripts of the National Library – as well as French diplomatic documents deposited in the archives of the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères – Quai d’Orsay it already had been researched and almost completely read, with the Scholarship of Research Productivity granted to me by CNPq. We intend to investigate the resonances of two episodes in British documentation, deposited in the Public Records Office fund, in Kew; in the Archivio di Stato and the Biblioteca Nazionale, both in Naples; in the Archivio di Stato and in the University Library, both in Cagliari; in the Oliveira Lima Library, in Washington; at the National Archives Institute/Torre do Tombo, in Lisbon; and finally, to go back to the documentation of sabauda, available at the Archivio di Stato and in the Royal Library of Turin.

Professor in charge: Laura de Mello e Souza (laurams@usp.br)


Intolerance and resistance: memories of political repression in Brazil (1964-1985)

Description: In this project we propose the creation of an Audiovisual Collection of the memory of the military dictatorship in Brazil from the testimonies of political prisoners of the period between 1964 and 1985. The objective is to retrieve the testimonies of a moment in the country’s political life that was extremely violent in the relations between the authoritarian State and civil society. As well as in various countries of Latin America, there is the need to produce historical documents related to periods dominated by repression and censorship, both from the perspective of a reckoning with the past, as to the guarantee of democracy, hoping that the recovery of the past allows the consolidation of a new code of ethics in politics.

Professor in charge: Zilda Márcia Grícoli Iokoi (zilda@usp.br)


Brazil in the lenses of science: pure and mixed races by Louis Agassiz. Collection of photographs by Louis Agassiz

Description: This project aims to study the Thayer Expedition, undertaken between 1865 and 1866 led by Louis Agassiz, renowned Swiss scientist living in the USA, curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He toured various regions of Brazil, exploring, specially, Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings, as well as the Amazon basin. Agassiz became interested in studying the Brazilian population, which led him to attempt the documentation of ‘Brazilian races’ through photography. According to the scientist, the Brazilian population, characterised by a high degree of miscegenation, was becoming an ideal laboratory to study the consequences of different types of crossing in the constitution of individuals. The Brazilian collection of photographs was never disclosed, which happened due to a series of political and academic reasons that ultimately impaired the ambitious project of Agassiz concerning the study of human races. The collection of photographs of the Thayer Expedition is still today practically new, tumbled at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University.

Professor in charge: Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado (hmachado@usp.br)


Slums, ghettos and favelas: the construction of marginal spaces in the Americas (1940-1980)

Description: Favela in Brazil, poblacione in Chile, villa miséria in Argentina, cantegril in Uruguay, rancho in Venezuela, ghetto and slum in the United States of America and Canada – the countries of South and North America developed their own terms to label the ‘marginal’ districts of large cities. Usually identifying extremely poor areas, of unstable and poorly paid jobs, with high unemployment rate and precarious living conditions, social problems as intense drug use, violence and crime, these terms have a wider cultural and social meaning in the discourse of the State, the media and the public: the ‘marginal’ spaces in North American cities are not only seen as areas of poverty, they are considered areas inhabited by populations socially and culturally disorganised, a dangerous social pathology. The objective of this research project is to conduct a comprehensive study about the social construction of ‘marginal spaces’ in Chicago, Toronto, and São Paulo between the 1940s and 1970s. It will involve investigations in several archives and libraries of socio-spatial representations of slums and ghettos in the political and academic discourse, in social service agencies, social movements and in the ‘anti-representationalism’ of the poor residents themselves. The graduate students under the guidance of Professor Robert Sean Purdy are studying related issues in the area of popular culture (cinema, folklore, and television), in the United States of America during this period.

Professor in charge: Robert Sean Purdy (sean.purdy1966@gmail.com)