Over twenty years ago, social scientists and historians suggested scholars “bring the state back in” as an important actor in social and cultural processes. While many scholars have begun to re-examine the role of the state within broader matrices of social, political, and cultural history, Brazilian scholarship on the state remains woefully inadequate, continuing to equate the state either to its figureheads or as impersonal institutions that simply issue policy. This panel proposes re-examining the role of the state in post-independence (1822) Brazil. It will move beyond a vision of the state as a monolithic, cohesive unit. Rather, we seek to better understand how the state in Brazil was both part of complex relations and debates over issues of development, culture, and ‘civilization,’ as well as a vehicle of power that various social groups competed for and influenced. In taking this approach, this panel will look at the various ways in which the state has influenced and been influenced by Brazilian society in the 19th and 20th centuries, considering it as just but one non-totalized actor in broader social, cultural, and economic struggles and processes. By focusing on issues such as agriculture, education, technology, moral policing, national myth-making, and development, this panel will “bring the state back in” the discussion of Brazilian history, focusing both on how the state influenced and participated in broader debates with society, as well as how various social groups dialogued with and competed for control of the state in Brazil.