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This chapter introduces the reader to the brief civil war in 1932, known as the Constitutionalist Revolution, which pitted São Paulo against Brazil’s federal government and its chief executive, Getúlio Vargas. It argues for an approach to this episode that emphasizes the construction of subjectivity in the process of political conflict, rather than a priori causes. It then discusses how the linking of paulista identity with the discourse of constitutionalism and the rule of law reinforced a notion of regional superiority that became increasingly racialized, and identified the allegedly “backward” states of the Brazilian Northeast as the source of disorder and the paulistas’ primary opponents, both during the war and after São Paulo’s defeat.

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