Final Public Oral Exam: Melissa Teixeira

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
September 9, 2016 - 1:00pm
Melissa Teixeira
Princeton University
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam

South Atlantic Corporatism: Development, Law, and Citizenship in Brazil and Portugal, 1919-1945


Jeremy Adelman, adviser
Daniel Rodgers
Robert Karl
Barbara Weinstein (New York University)


This dissertation examines the search for alternatives to laissez faire capitalism and political liberalism during the interwar years in Brazil and Portugal. It considers the economic, legal, and political consequences of the Great Depression from the perspective of these South Atlantic nations, sitting on the (so-called) global "periphery." It explores, in a comparative and transnational framework, how dictatorships across the Atlantic, each christened Estado Novo (New State), carved a "third path" between the volatility of capitalism and class warfare socialism, in which the state transformed into an agent of development. Scholars often treat corporatism as a deviation from proper capitalism development, or as little more than the façade of personalistic dictatorships. This dissertation, however, looks beyond despots to uncover the national and global contexts that shaped, justified, and disseminated solutions for market uncertainty. Indeed, it compares two national contexts, with a grounded discussion of policy and ideas in action, and emphasizes the Luso-Brazilian South Atlantic as a center of intellectual and political production, constituted via shared language and a common turn to authoritarianism. But it also engages a global perspective to take into account how corporatist experiments were in dialogue with the New Deal, Keynesianism, and social constitutionalism. To this end, the dissertation reconstructs the transnational networks of technocrats, economists, social scientists, jurists, and intellectuals who rewrote constitutions, legal procedure, and economic policy. It combines a history of legal ideas with a history of economic life to explore how new constitutions, statisitcal bureaus, special tribunals, and economic commissions were implemented to measure and direct the national economy. It also demonstrates the extent to which the state planned and policed everyday economic life, actions legitimized with appeals to social justice as the marketplace became a site for the exercise and negotiation of new rights. Doing so, this history of corporatism explores the uneven process—from inside out—by which modern states were erected in Brazil and Portugal to demonstrate how this experiment reconditioned the relationship between state, markets, and citizens. It also makes a case for why the South Atlantic is integral to twentieth-century histories of constitutionalism, development, and citizenship.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review one week before the exam in the History Graduate Student Lounge, 105 Dickinson Hall.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Area of Interest: 
Economic History
Latin America and the Caribbean
20th Century