Pearl of the Paraiba no more: The limits of industrialization and modernization in Brazil

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Robert M. Levine - Committee Chair


My research uses Barra do Pirai, a secondary city in the Middle Paraiba Valley of Rio de Janeiro state, as a case study of Brazil's industrialization and modernization over a short, thirty year span during the mid-twentieth century. Analysis of my data indicates that only a portion of the local population enjoyed the benefits of industrialization. In particular, people from the surrounding countryside, many of them descendents of slaves, failed to share these benefits. Many settled on hills in the city's periphery that lacked water, sewerage, schools, medical posts, and police protection. At the same time, however, many people demanded that their high expectations be satisfied. In addition, modernization of local culture encouraged youths to behave in ways often deemed inappropriate by their elders. Finally, as the city entered the 1960s, crime became a serious concern and raised fears that dangerous social outcasts, referred to as marginais (marginals), would overtake the city. Confronted with these problems, few people opposed the military dictators who promised to restore economic growth and social order after their coup d'etat in 1964.


History, Latin American; Political Science, General; Sociology, Social Structure and Development

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