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Coffee and Transformation in Sao Paulo, Brazil by Mauricio A. Font

Coffee and Transformation in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Coffee and Transformation in Sao Paulo, Brazil by Mauricio A. Font

Coffee and Transformation in Sao Paulo, Brazil advances a distinctive interpretation of the dynamism of the Sao Paulo region since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Large and entrepreneurial coffee landlords opened the frontier to the west of the state capital, playing a key role in making the state and Brazil the world's largest coffee producer for international markets. However, many of the immigrant settlers from Italy, Japan, Spain, and other countries emerged as major actors in the last phase of frontier expansion in western Sao Paulo. A substantial number of them found ways to become independent agriculturalists or enact new careers in commerce, industry, and services in the network of towns emerging in this region. This volume pays close attention to the political and economic implications of this region's process of segmentation and transformation, including their links to regionalism, political conflict, and the Revolution of 1930.


An earlier entire generation of scholars accepted the equation that during the Old Republic (1889-1930), the increasingly wealthy coffee planters of Sao Paulo dominated its political activities in lockstep with their financial ascendance. In his 1990 study, however, Mauricio Font (Coffee, Contention, and Change in the Making of Modern Brazil, CH, May'91, 28-5265) questioned this widely taught premise, and he demonstrated unequivocally that politics in Sao Paulo were decidedly not unilateral. He did so by singling out the roles of other interests, including those of factory owners and immigrants, which had consistently challenged the domination of the so-called coffee elite. In this updated reissue of his 1990 volume, Font (sociology, Queens College, CUNY) has reprised his pioneering research while substantially adding to his database and incorporating theories of social involvement and development...Several appendixes and a new online database that present material on the shift from oligarchic to diverse political structures enhance Font's valuable thesis. Summing Up: Highly recommended. CHOICE Font's book, a detailed look into the fractions and fissures in the machine, demonstrates that the PRP had lost its monolithic quality by 1920...Font convincingly answers the question of how the dominant party in the nation's wealthiest state produced presidents who worked against coffee interests and lost control of the national machine the 1930 coup. His book is a very good study of how economic diversification helped modernize Brazilian politics. Agricultural History The contours of modern Brazil can be traced to the great social and political transformations that rocked Sao Paulo prior to 1930. Combining theoretical rigor and a graceful style, Mauricio Font's superb volume shines a bright light on the historical forces that did so much to shape the destiny of one of the most fascinating societies in the world today. -- Thomas J. Trebat, Columbia University This revised version of Coffee and Transformation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, by Professor Mauricio Font, makes an important contribution to better understanding the interaction of social, political, and economic forces in Brazil's most developed state during the 1890-1930 period, when Sao Paulo's economy was transformed from an agricultural base into an industrial powerhouse. I strongly recommend this book to those interested in Brazil's development in the twentieth century. -- David Fleischer, University of Brasilia

About the Author

Mauricio A. Font is professor of sociology at The Graduate Center and Queens College, City University of New York, where he is also director of the Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th July 2010


Mauricio A. Font

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Lexington Books


394 pages


Industrialisation & industrial history
History of the Americas
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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