In this book, Louise H. Guenther examines, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the process of constructing Great Britain’s economic and political hegemony over Brazil in the nineteenth century. The author’s case-study approach focuses on social relationships “on the ground”; in doing this, she seeks to restore the uncertainties experienced by the main agents of British imperialism. British merchants’ lives in Bahia between 1808 and 1850 were not as easy and predictable as traditionally thought. Their relationship with the Portuguese and Brazilian governments was far from clear and necessarily privileged — as dependency theory has stated — and was constructed and constantly renegotiated on an almost daily basis.

After describing British commercial and political influence in Bahia, the book shows that British merchants were, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a highly heterogeneous group. The creation of the “community” was a deliberate cultural strategy that presumed a combination of self-isolation and...

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