Synopses & Reviews
In this book Sueann Caulfield explores the changing meanings of honor in early-twentieth-century Brazil, a period that saw an extraordinary proliferation of public debates that linked morality, modernity, honor, and national progress. With a close examination of legal theory on sexual offenses and case law in Rio de Janeiro from the end of World War I to the early years of the Estado Novo dictatorship, Caulfield reveals how everyday interpretations of honor influenced official attitudes and even the law itself as Brazil attempted to modernize.
and#9;While some Brazilian elites used the issue of sexual purity to boast of their countryandrsquo;s moral superiority, others claimed that the veneration of such concepts as virginity actually frustrated efforts at modernization. Moreover, although individuals of all social classes invoked values they considered andldquo;traditional,andrdquo; such as the confinement of womenandrsquo;s sexuality within marriage, these values were at odds with social practicesandmdash;such as premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, and female-headed householdsandmdash;that had been common throughout Brazilandrsquo;s history. The persistence of these practices, together with post-World War I changes in both official and popular moral ideals, presented formidable obstacles to the Estado Novoandrsquo;s renewed drive to define and enforce public morality and private family values in the late 1930s.
and#9;With sophisticated theoretical underpinnings, In Defense of Honor is written in a clear and lively manner, making it accessible to students and scholars in a variety of disciplines, including Brazilian and Latin American studies, gender studies, and legal history.
andldquo;The author is to be applauded for asking hard questions about the ways in which sexual activity, or the lack thereof, are used to make statements about race and class.andrdquo;andmdash;Jeffrey Lesser, author of Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorities, and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil
andldquo;This is an outstanding work both in terms of its highly original research and its very sophisticated interpretation.andrdquo;andmdash;Barbara Weinstein, author of For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in Sandatilde;o Paulo, 1920andndash;1964
The persistence of these practices, together with post-World War I changes in both official and popular moral ideals, presented formidable obstacles to the Estado Novo's renewed drive to define and enforce public morality and private family values in the late 1930s. With sophisticated theoretical underpinnings, "In Defense of Honor" is written in a clear and lively manner, making it accessible to students and scholars in a variety of disciplines, including Brazilian and Latin American studies, gender studies, and legal history.
Examines debates over sexual honor to explore the ways in which private morality was infused with the cultural politics of nation-building and modernization, and was used to legitimate power differentials based on race, gender, and class.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -298) and index.
About the Author
Sueann Caulfield is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.