Soldiers against the Army: Collective Memory and Critical Narratives of World War II in Brazil

Friday, January 8, 2016: 2:50 PM
International Ballroom A (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Uri Rosenheck, Coastal Carolina University
Brazil’s contribution to the Allies’ victory in the Second World War—especially the 25-thousand strong Brazilian Expeditionary Force (Força expedicionária brasileira, FEB)—was, and still is, a source of national pride. Countless monuments, memoirs, books, parades, songs, and locations were dedicated to commemorate and praise the achievements of the brave pracinhas, and by association glorified Brazil, its armed forces, and all Brazilians. 

Other voices, however, used the same febianos to harshly criticize Brazilian society, the state, and its army. Through books, newspapers, theatre plays, comics, and documentaries both veterans and other Brazilians provided counter-narratives that stained the collective image of the campaign with disturbing colors and are too part of the collective memory of the FEB. This paper explores three such narratives that have focused on racism, exploitation, and abandonment and weaves them into the fabric of Brazilian collective memory and national identity.