Joseph L. Love’s São Paulo in the Brazilian Federation, 1889-1937 joins two similarly titled studies, one by John D. Wirth on Minas Gerais, the other by Robert M. Levine on Pernambuco, to make up a distinguished scholarly trilogy on Brazilian regionalism. Individually, each of the volumes is a small treasure; collectively they represent a major advance in the historiography of Brazil, and stand as a model of successful collaboration in a discipline traditionally marked by solitary endeavors.
The scholarship of Love’s work is impressive, ranging through several archives, across disciplines, laden with dissertations, and strongly reflecting the works of Brazilian scholars. More impressive still, however, is the way in which these varied sources have been used to create a narrative and analysis of political, economic, and cultural currents during the Old Republic. Indeed, simply in piecing together the narrative, he has rendered valuable service, providing a readily accessible source of descriptive information about major figures and events in one of Brazil’s most important regions during a critical time of that nation’s history, an age witnessing various of those forces and processes—for example, immigration, industrialization, urbanization—we conventionally label “modernizing.”
In analyzing the nature and operation of such forces within São Paulo as they found expression in and were shaped by politics, Love provides critically acute discussions of the goals and strategies of Paulista planters, the consequences of valorization, the penetration of foreign capital and varied impacts of dependency, and the structure of the state’s political parties. Particularly important and impressive is his discussion of the political elite, for he gives both specificity and an operational definition to that often casually used word, providing a quantitative collective biography indicating career paths and regional distribution within the state. (An appendix details comparisons with data for Minas Gerais and Pernambuco.) As a result, rather than resting content with a general statement on the cohesiveness of elites, for example, this type of investigation specifically notes such attributes as education, nationality, and kinship ties. Perhaps most telling in this regard, and most significant to an understanding of power relationships, is Love’s finding that, using broad linkages like common memberships on boards as well as kinship, “more than a third of the whole elite formed a single complex of business and kinship ties” (p. 155). Similarly, this analysis gives precision to the question of interpenetrating rural and urban elites, not only by stressing that group’s “urban-cum-rural lifestyle,” but also its patterns of pronounced geographical mobility with multiple occupations and economic interests. Moreover, sound empirical grounding not only gives substance to analysis of the elite, but serves as well to inform discussions of its political behavior and, in turn, of the nature of the varied strands of conflict and cooperation between state and nation.
One final point deserves mention. A sure sense of Brazilian reality permeates this book. That reality is neither tortured to conform to, nor judged by, global models of Western experience. For example, Love notes the selective nature of modernization, the dynamism of patron-client relationships, and concerns himself with explaining political behavior in terms of the peculiar Paulista-Brazilian context. In sum, Joseph Love has written an important work marked by assiduous scholarship and skillful exposition.