Volume 8, Issue 2, Fall 2016
The Cultural Legacy of the First World War in Brazil
Roberto Simonsen and the Ideology of Development
The article examines the impact of the First World War in Brazil through contemporary cartoons and press comment. It shows how the war disrupted trade and undermined the optimism of economic and political liberalism. The war dispelled the myth of the superiority of European civilisation, leading Brazilians to re-evaluate their own cultural heritage and their relationship with the outside world. The result was a critical nationalism concerned to identify the causes of Brazil’ problems and find new solutions to them. One solution, proposed by the industrialist Roberto Simonsen, was development based on industrialisation to combat underdevelopment. The article argues that the origins of this ideology lie not in the Great Depression of the 1930s but in the cultural legacy of the First World War.