Civilization or Reform? "Civilizing" Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City, 1889-1930

WALTER J. J. DÁVILA

Abstract



 

THERESA A.MEADE: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997

 

"Day by day Rio's citizens watched as the allocation of the capital's space reflected the divisions that had always separated the population by class, by privilege, by race, and, now more than ever, by culture." (p. 94)

 Rio de Janeiro's entrance into the twentieth century set the stage for decades of growing physical, economic and political distance between the city's elites and its working poor. The city and federal governments embarked on urban beautification and sanitation projects intended to create a European metropolis out of the tropical port city. These reforms further marginalized the poor, who were bullied into compliance with health programs, exiled to squalid suburbs as their tenements were condemned, and alternatively ignored or bilked by the foreign companies charged with building the city's water, lighting and transportation infrastructure. The city's projects presaged a long history of public policies justified as universal goods, but benefiting a privileged minority.

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