Growing Up in the Land of the Future: Youth Culture and Politics in Brazil, 1920-1985

Daniels, Anne, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Owensby, Brian, Department of History, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores the evolution of the concept of youth in twentieth-century Brazil. Driven by positivist and eugenicist ideologies, modernizing reformers in the early twentieth century came to focus on children and adolescents as the most moldable segment of the population, and the one that could produce the greatest return on investment. The widespread adoption at this time of “youth” as a social category in Brazil, occurred with the connotation that youth were manipulable. In the mid-century, developmentalism contributed to growing economic power among youth, both as workers and as consumers. As the most numerous demographic in a very youthful country, young Brazilians translated their new economic power into cultural power and finally political power. This transition was legitimated by a powerful social discourse of “youth as the future”, which eventually allowed youth to articulate more forcefully what kind of future they wanted for themselves. For young Brazilians in the 1970s, that future was one of inclusive, egalitarian democracy. By the 1980s hundreds of thousands of young Brazilians had banded together as an oppositional force that would ultimately bring down a dictatorship.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Youth, Brazil, Youth Culture, Youth Politics, Student Movement
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