Roots of Brazil

Sérgio Buarque de Holanda
Translated by G. Harvey Summ
Foreword by Pedro Meira Monteiro

From the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies

Sérgio Buarque de Holanda’s Roots of Brazil is one of the iconic books on Brazilian history, society, and culture. Originally published in 1936, it appears here for the first time in an English language translation with a foreword, “Why Read Roots of Brazil Today?” by Pedro Meira Monteiro, one of the world’s leading experts on Buarque de Holanda.

Roots of Brazil focuses on the multiple cultural influences that forged twentieth-century Brazil, especially those of the Portuguese, the Spanish, other European colonists, Native Americans, and Africans. Buarque de Holanda argues that all of these originary influences were transformed into a unique Brazilian culture and society—a “transition zone.” The book presents an understanding of why and how European culture flourished in a large, tropical environment that was totally foreign to its traditions, and the manner and consequences of this development. Buarque de Holanda uses Max Weber’s typological criteria to establish pairs of “ideal types” as a means of stressing particular characteristics of Brazilians, while also trying to understand and explain the local historical process. Along with other early twentieth-century works such as The Masters and the Slaves by Gilberto Freyre and The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil by Caio Prado Júnior, Roots of Brazil set the parameters of Brazilian historiography for a generation and continues to offer keys to understanding the complex history of Brazil.

Roots of Brazil has been published in Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, and French. This long-awaited English translation will interest students and scholars of Portuguese, Brazilian, and Latin American history, culture, literature, and postcolonial studies.

Sérgio Buarque de Holanda (1902–1982) was one of the most renowned Brazilian historians of the twentieth century, as well as a noted literary critic. He taught in Italy, the United States, Chile, and Brazil.

“This translation is a major event. This is an essential work for the understanding of Brazil and even more so to the comprehension of Brazilian society and values by a generation of Brazilians. It tells much of the relationships between Brazil and Portugal and it is basic to grasp the position of Brazil within the so called Latin American countries and societies.” — Roberto DaMatta, Professor of Anthropology at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and Professor Emeritus at University of Notre Dame

Reviews

“Considered by most historians to be one of three foundational books in Brazilian historiography, this first English translation of Raizes do Brasil will be important to the study of Brazilian history. . . . The author examined Brazil’s colonial formation and identified foundational features and characteristics that made Brazil different from other countries.” — Choice

“Roots of Brazil is one of the essential books to understand how modern Brazil emerged. Raizes do Brasil was written by Sergio Buarque de Holanda. . . . Considered one of the country’s main intellectuals of the twentieth century, he ‘focuses on the multiple cultural influences that forged twentieth-century Brazil. . . . Roots of Brazil set the parameters of Brazilian historiography for a generation and continues to offer keys to understanding the complex history of Brazil.’” — Deep Brazil