Edited by Eric H. Kessler and Diana J. Wong-MingJi
Chapter 5: Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership in Brazil
Adriana V. Garibaldi de Hilal INTRODUCTION Brazil is the only country in the Western hemisphere that has the continental proportions, the regional contrasts and the demographic diversity that can be compared to the US and Canada. According to Hess (1995), Brazil, in spite of its Western-like institutions, is a country where Western culture has mixed and mingled with non-Western cultures for centuries. This mixture of Western and non-Western, as well as modern and traditional is what DaMatta (1997a) has called the ‘Brazilian dilemma’, or what Brazilians call the Brazilian reality. Brazil is a country where institutions operate through personal relationships as much as general rules. Diversity is not the best word for describing Brazil and Brazilians; mixture is better. Brazil is a nation of the mixing of races (miscegenation), religions (syncretism) and cultures (diasporas, borderlands). In cultural anthropology and studies of Brazilian national culture, DaMatta (1997a; 1997b) has influenced a number of scholars (such as, David Hess, 1995; Livia Neves Barbosa, 1995; Rosane Prado, 1995; Martha de Ulhoa Carvalho, 1995; and Roberto Kant de Lima, 1995) with his framework for interpreting Brazilian culture. Hess (1995) describes Brazil as the product of a particular colonial legacy that includes a class of wealthy landowners who supported a highly centralized Portuguese state. In turn, the state implanted a latifundia or plantation agricultural system in Brazil, where plantations were controlled by patriarchs who exercised a nearly absolute authority over their dominions. According to Buarque de Holanda (1995), the colonial legacy also includes the origins...
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