Civil War, Reconstruction, and Commemoration: The Confederate Community in Brazil

Friday, January 6, 2017: 11:10 AM
Plaza Ballroom A (Sheraton Denver Downtown)
Karina Esposito, West Virginia University
During and after the American Civil War, thousands of Confederates moved to several regions in Brazil, establishing successful colonies throughout the country. One colony in particular, the Santa Barbara D’Oeste and Americana regions in the state of Sao Paulo, stands out for its community of Confederados. The Confederados are the descendants of the Confederate immigrants who migrated to the different regions in Brazil in the late nineteenth century. The descendants formed the Fraternidade Descendencia Americana, the American Descendants’ Fraternity, in 1954. Through their website, bulletins, and commemorations, the Fraternity has served to engage the community and the descendants in the preservation of some of their Southern U.S. heritage. The Fraternity also oversees the Confederate cemetery in town, a symbol of their ancestors’ journey, challenges, and history. In addition, the Confederados hold an annual party to commemorate their unique Brazilian, American, and Confederate heritage.  At the annual party, girls usually dress in “Southern Belle” attire, and men dress in Confederate soldier style clothing. The Confederate Party focuses on celebrating their heritage through music, food, and symbols, including flags. This unique commemoration of the American Civil War in Brazil can help us understand how the Confederados have remembered and preserved their history. As we delve deeper into their way of telling and commemorating their heritage, Reconstruction takes on a new light. The American Civil War is not as explored in the Brazilian historiography as it is in the United States. Hence, exploring the Confederados’ history, and their contemporary commemoration efforts will not only enhance our understanding the War and Reconstruction period, but it will also shed a light on memory and heritage preservation studies from a transnational perspective
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