This excellent study dissects discourses about regionalism and nationalism in Brazil primarily from the 1930s to the 1950s through a deep study of the state of São Paulo. Weinstein’s sophisticated analysis shows how Brazil’s most economically powerful state fashioned a regional identity built on whiteness, modernity, and economic success in a nation that has privileged a discourse of racial harmony and mixture. A largely frontier society until the mid-nineteenth century, the state (and city) of São Paulo emerged as the “locomotive” of Brazilian economic growth during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In a country that imported 3 to 4 million African slaves prior to 1850, Brazil’s southern region (including São Paulo), which was populated largely by European immigrants after 1870, has remained stubbornly white.

Weinstein crafts her book around two...

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