RACIALIZING REGIONAL DIFFERENCE239
continued to inform debates over citizenship and political inclusion into thetwenty-ﬁrst century.There are many di√erent ways to explore the relationship between race andregionalism in Brazil, but no moment seems more fortuitous for this purposethan the period from 1931 to 1932, which saw escalating tension between SãoPaulo and the newly installed Vargas regime, culminating in a three-month,full-scale civil war between an insurgent state government and federal forces.
The Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932 was a crucial moment for consideringwhat it meant to be Paulista, how this related to being Brazilian, and what thisimplied for other regional identities. Though São Paulo’s defeat sounded thedeath knell for the regionally based political machines of the Old Republic, itsenduring position as the dominant economic center of the Brazilian nationallowed a particular, racialized construction of Paulista identity to survive andthrive long after the Constitutionalist forces laid down their arms.In the case of São Paulo, the variety of regionalism in question is a versionthat emerges together with the very uneven spread of modernity and capitalistdevelopment, a process that is particularly conspicuous in Brazil.
The discur-sive basis for regionalism in this version is the aggressive assertion of regionaldistinctiveness as equivalent to superiority, usually accompanied by the claimthat the region in question is disproportionately responsible for the greatnessand sustenance of the nation.
Such movements may couch their resentmentsand demands in ﬁscal and political terms, but their critique of the status quousually rests on the implicit claim that the region’s (and by extension, thenation’s) prosperity is a consequence of its population’s superior cultural at-tributes, an argument that can easily lend itself to racialist ideologies. Unlikethe more familiar regional discourses that position their cause as a movementof the excluded or the oppressed,
those writers, intellectuals, and politicianswho constructed the identity of São Paulo within the Brazilian nation typically regarded their home region as culturally and economically superior, as thevanguard of progress and civilization, while the rest of the nation served as the‘‘other,’’ in a cultural relationship reminiscent of that between colonizer andcolonized.
In crafting this discourse of regional superiority, Paulistas drew upon racial-ized assumptions about modernity and civilization shared by elites throughoutBrazilian society—after all, Brazil had the dubious distinction of being the very last slaveholding power in the hemisphere, only abolishing slavery in 1888. Thepostemancipation decades coincided with the global heyday of scientiﬁc racismand saw considerable concern among a wide variety of Brazilian intellectuals