The peculiarity of Brazilian state-formation in geopolitical context: the challenge of Eurocentrism in international relations and political Marxism

Dutra Salgado, Pedro Lucas (2018) The peculiarity of Brazilian state-formation in geopolitical context: the challenge of Eurocentrism in international relations and political Marxism. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis provides a historical reconstruction of the long-term trajectory of Brazilian state-formation (ca. 1450 - 1889), developed as a contribution to the sub-field of IR Historical Sociology. Theoretically, it is informed by the tradition of Geopolitical Marxism, which emphasises the social conflicts – on both sides of the Atlantic – that inform the geopolitical strategies and disputes between coloniser and colonised, without being determined by them. This account challenges existing theories of IR and Historical Sociology, in which trajectories of state formation are explained through the use of generalising theoretical assumptions foreclosing case-specific particularities, especially in non-European cases. I propose instead a radical historicist approach to social science, reframing social theory as a methodological guideline for historical analysis. Empirically, this amounts to a reinterpretation of Portuguese maritime expansionism, deriving the geopolicies of South American occupation not from generalising notions of colonialism or the expansion of capitalism, but from the situated practices of elite and inter-elite reproduction. The thesis moves on to show how the events that followed Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal in 1807 eventually led to Brazilian independence through an analysis of the competing interests of Portuguese and Brazilian elites, exacerbated by and geopolitically managed through the interference of British strategies of informal imperialism in Latin America. After formal independence, Brazilian policy making is driven not by the aspiration towards a civilizational standard or capitalist modernisation, but by the conflicts between segments of the ruling class, especially regarding the long-delayed transition from slavery towards other forms of labour control. The argument is that the historicist method does not only provide the key to the “peculiarity” of the Brazilian case by questioning the biases towards state-centrism in mainstream IR and towards structuralism in Marxism, but that it also overcomes the challenge of Eurocentrism by incorporating the agency of non-European subjects in the making of their own history.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F2201 South America > F2501 Brazil > F2521 General works, including political history
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0481 Theory. Method. Relations to other subjects > HM0487 Historical sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 May 2018 15:08
Last Modified: 18 May 2018 15:08
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/75966

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