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Women's Fiction
"Civilizing" Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889-1930

"Civilizing" Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889-1930

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Product Info Reviews

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Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Major social history of urban life in Latin America
Review: This a major addition to the social history of urban life in Brazil, and Latin America generally. By shifting the emphasis from workplace struggles to conflict over urban space, Meade allows us to rethink dramatic and sometimes puzzling episodes of popular protest in turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro (such as the revolt against compulsory smallpox vaccination). Her argument that these protests should be seen as part of the contest over capitalist modernization, and are no less "modern" than workplace struggles in nearby Sao Paulo, adds to the ongoing discussion of political consciousness as forming in struggles both within and beyond the point of production. Meade also explores the implications of "urban beautification" for the popular classes in a way that connects processes in Rio with broader global tendencies during the Age of Imperialism. Finally, the book is highly readable and accessible to the non-specialist, and can be used in courses ranging from introductory undergraduate surveys to graduate seminars.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: An excellent study of urban renewal and social conflict.
Review: This book provides both a useful overview of urban social history in turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro and a unique and convincing analysis of how poor urban and suburban residents responded to urban renewal projects. The author places her analysis in an engaging, accessible, and accurate narrative of the city's broader history, weaving together the findings of a broad array of specialized secondary works. Her own primary research on popular protests provides a crucial part of this history, and her conclusions are suggestive of how popular movements might be understood elsewhere as well. The book shows that the effects of undemocratic urban administration can be disasterous for the least powerful sectors of the population. Yet is also shows that the urban poor were by no means "marginalized," nor did they decline to participate in orderly, legal forms of protest. Riots and violence exploded in Rio only after poor residents had tolerated arbitrary and violent government implementation of urban policies, and after they had found other avenues of appeal to government officials closed. This book is effective in undergraduate and graduate courses alike. In addition to providing an excellent overview of Rio's early twentieth-century history, the book stimulates students to think critically about urbanization, class conflict, forms of protest, and the peculiar concerns of non-industrial nations to create images of order and civilization in the early twentieth century.

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