This article explores how the introduction of the duel in Brazil around 1888 — along with its proponents' efforts to distinguish it from street fighting or capoeiragem and “men of honor” from dishonored capoeiras and the uncivilized masses — became a meaningful instrument in a process of symbolic reorganization with significant social, political, and legal implications. This process, staged on the streets and in the newspapers of Rio de Janeiro, also reflected the new role of journalists in Brazilian cultural life. Claims to honor reinforced hierarchies and became an important tool for an emerging cultural elite that sought to assert its cultural, social, economic, and ethnic superiority. The article also discusses the role of testas de ferro and recovers the history of Romão José de Lima, one of this profession's most renowned representatives.

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