Brotherhoods of Their Own: Black Confraternities and Civic Leadership in São Paulo, Brazil, 1850-1920 Open Access

Monroe, Alicia L. (2014)

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This dissertation investigates the issue of social relations among slaves, freed people, and free people of color based on analysis of records from Afro-Brazilian confraternities and black secular associations from 1850 to 1920 in São Paulo, Brazil. The project seeks to examine the circumstances and social values that governed patterns of interaction among those who participated in predominantly Afro-Brazilian associational life. Confraternities, known in Portuguese as irmandades and confrarias, functioned as devotional and mutual aid societies, which connected Africans and Brazilian born blacks in networks of mutuality beyond family ties. Nineteenth century Catholic devotional societies and post-abolition secular societies which included a Masonic lodge, an emancipation commemoration group, and beneficence societies served as unique social and institutional spaces where segments of the local African diaspora population collectively created alternative modes of blackness that went beyond the negative racial stereotypes associated with African origins. Afro-Brazilians utilized these institutional spaces to challenge their marginalization by performing their belonging in the Catholic Church and in wider civil society. Black confraternity participation in state, civic commemorations as well as religious holidays emphasized black belonging to the local municipality, the province, and ultimately the nation. Voluntary Afro-Brazilian religious and secular associations became critical sites of socialization where corporate black identities could be imagined and fashioned in ways that supported aspirations of social autonomy and societal inclusion.

Table of Contents

Introduction... 1

Chapter 1: African Conversion, Baroque Catholicism, and the Formation of Black Devotions in São Paulo... 45
Chapter 2: Urban Slavery and Afro-Brazilian Sodalities as Physical and Symbolic Spaces of Blackness...80

Chapter 3: Black Leading Men: Power, Gender, and Family in Sodalities...159
Chapter 4: ‘To Govern the Church': Autonomy and the Consequences of Self-Determination in the Brotherhood of Saint Ephigênia and Saint Elesbão...196

Chapter 5: Sacred and Secular Leaders: Black Civic Associations in Post-Emancipation São Paulo, 1890-1920...235


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