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ATIQUE_2009_American City in Brazil

ATIQUE_2009_American City in Brazil

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Published by: Marcos Virgílio da Silva on Nov 12, 2011
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The “American City” in Brazil:Revealing Some Aspects of One Cultural Relationship, 1876 – 1945.
"Preparado para apresentação no Congresso de 2009 da LASA (Associação de EstudosLatino-Americanos), no Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, de 11 a 14 de junho de 2009."
 
The “American City” in Brazil:Revealing Some Aspects of One Cultural Relationship, 1876 – 1945.
This paper aims to explain the making of a relationship between Brazil and the UnitedStates between 1876 - when the Emperor Pedro de Alcantara went to the United Statesto participate of the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia - and 1945 - when theWorld War II was finished, and the presence of goods, equipments and the way of lifefrom the United States got the most relevant levels in the whole world. The paper’sobject can be understood like a plural one: not only the architecture, but also the wholeurban culture in that time. The Brazilian enthusiasm for the American City is analyzedby the trajectory of architects, engineers and intellectuals and prove the importance of the United States for the construction of a Modern City in Brazil, following theAmerican example.
1 – An
“America” 
not so far from here.
“I received a magazine from SãoPaulo and I would like to thank it.The name of this magazine isKlaxon. In beginning, I thought that it was a magazine advertising for any brand of American cars. I wascertain about it, because a publication with this weird name just could be invented by Americanmerchants to sell their product.” Lima Barreto, 1922 [2005].
As pointed by Jeffrey W. Cody in the book
 Exporting American Architecture: 1870 - 2000
the first milestone of the U.S. assertion in the commercial relations between thecountries of America and even Europe, was the Centennial Exposition of Independenceof the United States. The International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, known as
The Centennial Exhibition
, held in Philadelphia, from May1876 to mid-1877, is a key point for this paper. The initiative, more to celebrate theindependence of the US, had, also, the goal of exposing Americans inventions to severalcountries of the world (PESAVENTO, 1997). Imbued with the character of the
"Celebration of the Progress",
as pointed by Sandra Jatahy Pesavento, the Centennialwas a follower of the ideology started with the Great International Exhibition, emergedin 1850 in England. In fact, the Centennial Exposition of American Independenceshowed, with preponderance, the creations of United States and revealed theexpansionist intentions of manufacturers of that nation. The Centennial, accordingPesavento:
"Was accompanied by the publication of many works illustrative and explanatory of the nation’sdevelopment during one hundred years of its independent life. The meaning was clear laudatory,and America was presented as the land of the Promise, the greatest example of democracy on the planet, the nation that, from a modest home was able to match, after a century, with the major  powers of the world. (...) According to their self-assessment, the United States not only had giventhe world a demonstration of his genius as America has proven to be a nation in the first world (...) [that exceeded the old countries of] Europe by its mass production and the ingeniousinventions that made it easier and more comfortable everyday life (PESAVENTO, 1997: 149,152).
 
This new range of 
"make the daily life easier"
was exploited by the hosts with cunning.Cody showed the impressive success of the Centennial and pointed that the internationalpress helped to crystallize the idea of the United States as the land of the greatesttechnological advances of the nineteenth century (CODY, 2003: 6-7).Brazil has also been achieved by the effects of this fair, especially with the journey of Emperor Pedro II as official guest of the American government. The presence of theBrazilian emperor at the event inaugurated a new era on several fronts in the Brazil-United States relationship. Although he stated that traveling as a
“Brazilian citizen and not as the head of state,
i
Pedro II aroused interest in the American press, because hewas the first monarch to travel to the U.S. before the independence" (Schwarcz, 2003:374 ). The presence of the Brazil’s imperial chief in the North America, for nearly threemonths, allowed him to the physical contact with American schools, scientificinstitutions and museums. Pedro II also was invited to participate of the inauguration of roads and factories, to visit Niagara Falls and to be closer to the legacy of one of hisfavorite intellectuals, the naturalist Louis Agassiz
ii
. It is important to show that thepresence of Dom Pedro II in the United States, as well in other foreign locations he havevisited
1
, put him in contact with several inventions of his century, as the photography
2
,the telephone
3
and the electricity
4
, which ended up being taken and distributed in Brazil,by his action.A trip to the Philadelphia Exhibition, although this appears in the history of relationsthat Brazil - the United States as an isolated case, should not be seen this way. Althoughit is not possible to create a genealogy of intellectual, commercial and urban relationswith the US taking, only, the presence of Dom Pedro II there, we can use the tour of theemperor as an important milestone for the start of a new relationship between the twonations, which was successively expanded during the following decades. The presenceof the monarch in the same place of the inventions, products and in the midst of theAmerican symbols of 
"development and progress",
crystallized the acceptance of American paradigms in Brazil. Dom Pedro II, as shown Lilia Schwarcz, granted theUnited States the epitome of a progressive land: "the great American nation" (Schwarcz,2003: 373). This statement illustrate that there was not a great distance between Braziland United States in the XIX Century. In addition, we can affirm that the Brazilianpresence in the Centennial improved the commercial partnership and the transmission of cultural references among the countries. The monarch that had desired to be a scientisttried and ordered American products, disseminating it in many Brazilian cities. Inaddition, the emperor charged respectability to the U.S. science and, consequently, tothe American scientists. It was important to understand some ways of interactionbetween Brazil and the United States from the decade of 1870.The Brazilian participation in 1876 fair also created the idea that the South Americancountry could become closer to the United States. This Centennial not only pushed thecountry to get technology and manufactured goods in US, but forced the improvementand the expansion of its foreign market by its
stand 
. The Brazilian intention was toincrease local sales of agricultural products such as rubber, cocoa and coffee, and, in

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