Brazilian historian Tâmis Parron argues in this study that during the nineteenth century the defense of slavery formed a “network of political and social relations” (p. 18) whose internal logic and broader historical connections were not the mere result of the existence of the institution. Rather, political debates about slavery were a “vector of partisan, ideological, and parliamentary relations” (p. 16) throughout the early and central decades of the century, when Brazil’s institutions as an independent empire were designed and tested at both the local and the international level. While political disputes focusing on slavery are a well-known subject in Brazilian historiography, Parron’s insight into the politics of slavery truly enriches our understanding of the process of nation building after independence (1822) and of the conservative hegemony in parliament between 1835 and the early 1850s.

Echoing David Brion Davis’s approach in The Problem...

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