Freedom as a problem, or the problem of freedom: these are two related ways of presenting a key question about the formation of Brazil and other American societies founded on slavery. The subtle difference between the two formulations lies in what is projected into the horizon and what is understood as reality, even if that freedom is marked by an inherent precariousness. Between the two, there is the process of “becoming free.” The collection of articles edited by Maria Helena Machado and Celso Thomas Castilho is oriented around this aspect.

A product of cooperation between the University of São Paulo and Vanderbilt University, the book presents a historiographical balance fostered by the 125 years since the abolition of slavery in Brazil. In this sense, the collection offers a sampling of the broad reassessment that has been promoted in the social and political...

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