Development from Within and Without: Debates, Partnerships, and Aid in Postwar Brazil
Conference on Latin American History 5
Debates about, and the active pursuit of development in Brazil were permeable rather than hermetic processes. This panel approaches the period of what might be called “high developmentalism,” from the 1950s through the 1970s, examining both domestic and transnational dynamics in the discussions about and the mechanisms of development. As a group, the papers analyze some of the key terms of debate in Brazil, starting with how prominent thinkers cast the relationship between development and U.S.-style consumerism. The panel demonstrates the period’s dynamism, exploring shifts in development paradigms over these three decades in the general direction of increasingly market-led policies with a renewed emphasis on balancing industry and agriculture. The panel reveals how these shifting emphases and debates influenced the ways that the Brazilian state and its citizens shaped, reacted to, and sometimes rejected their relationships with foreign or international organizations. Our papers address bilateral relationships (especially with the U.S., in the form of the Alliance for Progress and USAID) and engagements with multilateral institutions (such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization). In every case, we show how debates within Brazil inflected these relationships.
An impressively rich literature from history, sociology, economics, and political science treats the trajectory of development and development thought in Brazil but we also dialogue with a broader international historiography. Scholars situating United States in the world have produced some particularly compelling recent work, such as Thomas Field’s study of the Alliance for Progress and Bolivian politics and Nicholas Cullather’s The Hungry World. This panel’s papers respond to and build on that work, while also drawing on geographically farther-reaching critical studies from scholars such as Timothy Mitchell and Arturo Escobar. In light of this literature, we deliberately retain the frame of “development” as a useful analytical category. The panel’s studies of the specificities of postwar development projects in Brazil, from the regional to the sectoral, contribute to building a richer picture of these decades of rapid change. We see an audience composed of Latin Americanists, U.S.-centered scholars who treat transnational or diplomatic themes, and scholars interested in the political economy of the postwar period.