Popular Movements in Colonial Brazil

Laura de Mello e Souza and João José Reis

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Popular Movements in Colonial Brazil


To speak of popular movements in Brazil before 1822 raises problems, especially if European and Atlantic contexts are considered. Who are the people, and how would they manifest themselves in a social formation marked by three centuries of slavery that not only deeply influenced the lives of Brazil's inhabitants but also articulated all economic and social relations, and radically demeaned the value of manual labour? Bondage in Brazil involved millions of slaves from Africa, and before that, the enslavement of thousands of indigenous peoples; this diversity occasioned much tension and conflict. Similarly, since Portuguese America was a group of colonial territories subject to a monarchical regime located on the other side of the Atlantic, animosities developed between those who lived in the kingdom (Reino) and those who lived and, more particularly, were born in America. Consequently, numerous social movements gained an anti-metropolitan, even anti-colonial, character without, until the early nineteenth century, mobilizing any significant popular participation. It is, therefore, important to differentiate between social movements and popular movements; the latter included slave rebellions.

Keywords: Brazil; popular movements; Atlantic; slavery; slave rebellions; social movements; Portuguese America; slaves; Africa; social formation

Article.  8172 words. 

Subjects: History ; Colonialism and Imperialism

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