On The History of Brazilian Geopolitical Thought: pacifism, expansionism and the historiography of South American borders

Authors: André Novaes*, State University of Rio de Janeiro
Topics: History of Geography
Keywords: history of geopolitical thought, Brazilian geopolitics, pacifism, expansionism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The history of Brazilian geopolitics has been constantly situated between pacifism and expansionism. On one hand, many authors of the twentieth century glorify how the country was generally peaceful in its border negotiations, avoiding war at all cost. On the other hand, there is an intense expansionist discourse, expressed in many national geopolitical plans for South American borders. In this paper, I will discuss how pacifism and expansionism co-exist in the historical narratives of two of the most famous authors of Brazilian geopolitics, Mario Travassos and Carlos Meira Mattos. Both authors were military and wrote books on the history of international borders with widely circulated among Brazilian readers. Writing his famous book, "The Brazilian Continental Projection" in 1935, Travassos proposed a competitive perspective with neighbours, especially Argentina, but also emphasizing how the peaceful integration and exchange between South American countries could be beneficial for Brazil. Writing forty years later, in 1975, Mattos dedicates his book, “Geopolitics and Destiny”, precisely to Travassos, who was considered as one of the founding fathers of Brazilian geopolitics. Like the previous book, Mattos proposes various actions to strengthen Brazil's geopolitical position in South America, but also presents many passages about the importance of peace and the need to avoid direct confrontation with neighbours. Taking into account the images and texts of these books, this paper seeks to show how geopolitical ideas are always susceptible to new readings and evaluations, reinforcing the role of historiography for approaches in the history of geography.

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