The Prestes Column rebellion is among the most mythologized events in modern Brazil: from 1924 to 1927, a group of junior army officers marched nearly 15,000 miles through Brazil's vast interior regions. This Homeric epic into the so-called backlands launched the careers of some of Brazil's most important figures, and for nearly a century it has attained a mythic status in folklore and political history. Seeking to both explain and intervene in this legend, I argue that the myth of the Prestes Column emerged from and remained tethered to the stigmatized image of the interior. As a corrective to the column's dominant narrative and intervening in scholarship on myths more generally, this article reimagines the interior as both a place and an idea. The enduring symbolism of the backlands shows that exclusion, rather than a byproduct of national mythologies, is the pillar on which the ideas of inclusionary myths are based.

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