Culture and identity in contemporary Brazil
  • Podcast The Taquaruçu Massacre

    Publicado em 07/07/2020 às 12:31 PM

    Interview with the Memory Keeper Aldair Goetten de Morais conducted by the project coordinator teacher Daniel Granada. This podcast is the first in a series about Contestado. Realized by the team of the Culture and Identity Project in the Planalto Catarinense – extension project of the UFSC – Curitibanos campus.
    Edition by Alexandre Lima de Oliveira.
    Art by Karen Wesseler Jung.
    Photo by Evandro Badin.

  • Caboclo Women In The Contested War

    Publicado em 25/06/2020 às 02:47 PM

    The Contested War brings with it a very important trajectory marked by caboclo women who defended their lands, whether in acts of war, blessing peoples, caring for homes, or even for seizures. In a way, they all had fundamental roles and deserve due recognition in history. Because it was considered a holy war due to messianism and religious fanaticism, some women considered “virgins” by the leaders of the strongholds and by the Monk José Maria, had a great influence on the people of the sertanejo. These women continued with the monk practicing benedictions, psychic powers and helping in prayer.

    The women were considered ‘virgins’ when they stood out in the purity of the soul and not necessarily biologically virgins, because there were married women among them. But the ones who stood out the most were the teenagers. Among the women who stood out for their acts were: Maria Rosa, Chica Pelega, Nega Jacinta and the virgin Teodora, each with their own particularities and stories.

    Maria Rosa was the most prominent female figure at the time of the strongholds, due to her qualities attributed to her as commander and seer. At the age of fifteen, she was speaking with the monk José Maria in the midst of prayers. In trances, she had visions of battles. Because of these facts, she was the one who organized the group’s behavior through the orders received by the monk’s spirit. In 1913, Maria Rosa became the military chief leading the strategic retreat to the new stronghold of Caraguatá, after the first battle in Taquaruçu.

    She commanded not only the redoubt in which she lived but also nearby redoubts by means of expeditions, designating who would be her commanders. He distinguished himself from others by his leadership, as a warrior, saint, leader, heroine and guide of caboclo people, and should be historically remembered for his dedication to Contested.


    Image of Maria Rosa

    Another great influence in history was Chica Pelega, who since she was a little girl demonstrated her skills with herbs and animal care. Such abilities were understood as gifts given by the monk. The story tells that his family came from Rio Grande do Sul and that Chica’s mother could not get pregnant for unknown reasons, until her father found ashes supposedly from a fire made by the monk João Maria, and with the ash he sewed two bundles of cloth making two amulets, one for him and one for Chiquinha, Chica Pelega’s mother. After that, even the harvests improved greatly, both multiplied in faith and Chiquinha got pregnant.

    Due to this fact that there was so much relationship between Chica Pelega and the monk. After the tragic episode of seeing her father, her uncle and the family of her future fiancé all killed by jagunços, Francisca Roberta (this is believed to be the real name of Chica Pelega) and her mother go to Taquaruçu.Soon Chica gained admiration for taking care of the sick and children.  After years of fighting for justice, Chica Pelega dies in a conflict against government troops that attacked the strongholds of Taquaruçu.

    Nega Jacinta was already known and called a saint for taking care of the sick, giving births, praying and blessings. There are not many bibliographical records, but from what is known she lived in a cave known today as Santa Emídia, a locality of Rio do Tigre, in the city of Três Barras – SC. It is said that in this same place she sheltered the monk João Maria d’Agostini, thus making it a place much sought after by the faithful. It has become worthy of respect and admiration for the care of people, marking its presence in the history of war.

    Another female figure who gained great prominence was the Virgin Theodora, known by the caboclos for her visions, which gave hope to the population. She passed on to the caboclos orders given by the monk in his visions, and they obeyed them with great faith and hope. Theodora was a disciple of Chica Pelega, which also contributed to the increase of her reputation. Among the women who stood out, she was the only one with whom he had contact for research and interviews.

    When interviewed by Mauricio Vinhas de Queiros, Teodora said that her visions of the monk were nothing more than the inventions of her grandfather Eusebio and other leaders who did this as a way to convince the people, legitimize their decisions and direct them. Teodora got married twice, had eight children and finally in 1979 died at 78 in the city of Curitiba – PR.


    Image of the Virgin Teodora

    Text by Alexandre Lima de Oliveira


    GRIMES, Suelen Ramos. Jornalismo e questões de gênero: um olhar sobre a invisibilidade das mulheres na guerra do contestado. p 11-57, Criciúma, 2016. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 25 jun. 2020.

    TRENTO, Aline Eloíse, et al. Guerreiras imortais do contestado, as que tudo viam e faziam durante a guerra de extermínio. p 276-290, Londrina, 2014. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 25 jun. 2020.

    Guerra do Contestado. Os reflexos cem anos depois. Entrevista especial com Paulo Pinheiro Machado. Instituto Humanitas Unissinos, 2012. Disponível em: <> Acesso em: 23 jun. 2020.

  • Documentary Contested: Memories and Hope

    Publicado em 11/06/2020 às 06:33 PM


    The silence, invisibility and underdevelopment imposed on the caboclo people after the war. The overcoming of shame, the rebirth of hope and belief in happiness through the rescue of history and the appreciation of the memory of a people.

    The documentary “Contested – Memory and Hope” presents to the viewer the memories transmitted secularly by the oral history of the contested sertão, stage of the Contestado War that took place between 1912 and 1916 in the interior of the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil.

    According to official historiography, the Contested War killed ten thousand people. Considering the ethnic cleansing promoted by the militia jagunços at the time, the death toll could exceed thirty thousand people, making Contested one of the greatest crimes against humanity recorded in the Americas.

    The documentary “Contested – Memory and Hope” was produced by TV UEL in partnership with the Observatory of the Region and the Contested War. The team traveled 1,600 kilometers with the Research and Extension Project of the State University of Londrina “Vivenciar e Agir Sobre Terras (un)contestable” that develops in the region a work to rescue the memories of Contested

    Throughout the documentary, the public will pass through the paths of the prophet João Maria and see his close connection, until today, with the customs, culture and caboclo resistance. And they will have the opportunity to understand how the rescue of a people’s identity and history can help a population, with one of the lowest human development rates in Brazil, to glimpse a better future.

    To see the documentary in its entirety, click here.

    Technical sheet

    Title: Contestado: memory and hope

    Year of production: 2019

    Directed by: Celio Costa, Marco Antonio Barros and Soraia Barros

    Premiere: August 12, 2019 ( Brazil )

    Duration: 52 minutes

    Classification: Free

    Genre: Documentary

    Countries of Origin: Brazil

    Producers: Celio Costa, Marco Antonio Barros, Nilson Cesar Fraga and Soraia Barros
    We thank the researcher Nilson Fraga and Tv Uel for allowing us to edit the documentary, use the cuts considered most important for our goal and for sending us the synopsis. In this way, we hope to bring this beautiful work to a larger number of people, thus valuing the history of Contestado, so important for the residents of the Contestado Valley region in the Serra Catarinense.
    Edition and subtitles by Alexandre Lima de Oliveira, Francine Soares de Almeida and Karen Wesseler Jung.

  • Immigrants Valley: first action in promoting Tourism

    Publicado em 11/06/2020 às 11:51 AM

    The Tourism Development Agency of Santa Catarina (Santur) promoted on June 3, 2020 a meeting with representatives of the tourist region Vale dos Imigrantes. The meeting was attended by secretaries of tourism, entrepreneurs, entities of the region and also representatives of the Regional Governance Body (IGR).
    Since the change in the name of Vale do Contestado to Vale dos imigrantes on July 4, 2019, this is the first reported action for the development of tourism in the new region. The meeting aims to discuss the needs of the region for the resumption of tourism activities with the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
    Santur president, Mané Ferrari, states that since the decree of quarantine in Santa Catarina, the Agency has been working to find solutions to face the impacts of the pandemic on tourism: “A crisis office has been set up that is in constant dialogue with the government committee that centralizes actions to combat Covid-19. We have already had some advances, such as the gradual reopening of accommodation and food services. Now, based on the latest decree of the State Government, we are working on building regulations for the reopening of parks and zoos, advancing little by little until we get the events released”.
    Among the guidelines of the meeting, the Viaje Mais SC program stands out, which encourages the residents of the state to learn more about the cultural wealth of Santa Catarina. The program will be implemented in six stages, gradually, starting with the launch of a seal for the establishments that comply with the sanitary norms of combat to Covid-19 and offer differentiated products. The launch of the program is scheduled for the month of June.
    In addition, the manager of the Regional Governance Body (IGR) Vale dos Imigrantes, Yuri Hentz, added that one of the most important actions is the updating of tourist signage in the region, a project that is already underway in Santur and is part of the program Viaje Mais SC: “It is very important to have the appropriate signage when selling the destination”.
    The replacement of the signage of the former Contestado Valley seems to sacrament the change in the name of the region in a definitive way. For more information about the change, access the post here.

    Source: SANTUR, 2019.


    SANTUR, Agência De Desenvolvimento Do Turismo De Santa Catarina. Medidas de apoio ao turismo são discutidas em reunião entre Santur e trade da região Vale dos Imigrantes. Governo de Santa Catarina, 2020. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 11 de jun. 2020.

    SANTUR, Agência De Desenvolvimento Do Turismo De Santa Catarina. Mapa do Turismo. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em:  11 de jun. 2020.

    Text by Karen Wesseler Jung.

  • Exhibition “Nas ruínas de Curitibanos: vestígios de uma invasão durante a Guerra do Contestado”

    Publicado em 27/05/2020 às 09:48 PM

    The Exhibition “Nas ruínas de Curitibanos: vestígios de uma invasão durante a Guerra do Contestado”, realized by the Court of Justice of Santa Catarina, brought to the city for the first time documents and photographs of the Contestado War. The exhibition starts in september 26th, the exact same day of the invasion 105 years before.

    Photos taken at the exhibition by Karen Jung.

  • Tourist Attractions in the Contestado Valley region

    Publicado em 21/05/2020 às 06:36 PM

    The Contestado Valley, where the War of 1912 – 1916 took place, presents the presence of Italian, German and Japanese immigrants, as well as caboclos and indigenous people from the region, creating a place of great cultural plurality that attracts tourists from all regions of Brazil and the world. Recently, on July 4th, 2019, the Regional Government of Vale do Contestado decided to change the name of the region to Vale dos Imigrantes, generating much criticism from researchers and residents of the region. For more information about the change, see the post here. This decision has the main objective of increasing the tourist attractions of the region with economic bias, aiming at increasing regional development. However, there are several culinary festivals, tourist attractions, and other attractions that, with the proper government stimulus to increase resources and expand the infrastructure of the cities, could lead to growth in tourism without changing the name of the region. The following are examples of actions in which the name of Contestado Valley is very well used in several cities: 

    Main destinations

    The Contestado Valley is composed of several municipalities, among which:  Treze Tílias, Fraiburgo, Piratuba, Videira, Tangará, Pinheiro Preto, Porto União, Itá, Seara, Frei Rogério and others such as Campos Novos and Curitibanos which, right after BR-116, are the first cities in a vast territory that moves forward to the west of the State of Santa Catarina. Campos Novos and Curitibanos preserve many characteristics of the Santa Catarina mountain range: planes, cattle grazing, campeiro customs and Gaudério’s way of talking and dressing (typical behavior). Joaçaba and Concórdia are progressive cities and main economic centers of the region. The multiplicity of sceneries, people and cultures is the biggest attraction of the region, for example the Austrian city of Treze Tílias, which has many points of visitation.

    Portal of the city of Treze Tílias. Source.

    The cities of Videira, Tangará and Pinheiro Preto are part of the Wine Valley, colonized mainly by Italians. The wineries of the city of Pinheiro Preto, like the Vinícola da Serra, receive visitors for guided tours and tasting. The temperate climate and the excellent wine make this region a great destination during the winter.

    Vinícola da Serra, Pinheiro Preto/SC. Source.

    Another great attraction is the city of Piratuba, where the thermal waters, hotels that refer to the Germanic style and water parks allow visitors an unforgettable experience. 

    Thermal Waters of Piratuba/SC. Source.

    For visitors who are interested in knowing the history of the Contestado War, the Museu Histórico e Antropológico da Região do Contestado located in the city of Caçador/SC is a true cultural landmark of permanent information and reflection that keeps the memory of the Contestado Region for future generations. 

    Front of the Museu Histórico e Antropológico da Região do Contestado, Caçador/SC. Source.

    Another very interesting place is the Contestado Cemetery, located in the city of Irani/SC, where the victims of the first battle between the caboclos and the troops commanded by the colonels in 1912 are buried, starting the war.  

    Front of the Cemitério do Contestado, Irani/SC. Source.

    Typical parties in Santa Catarina

    The vast diversity of municipalities brings with them typical festivals to celebrate the culture of the settlers. Below is the list of cities and festivals:

    Campos Novos

    In Campos Novos there are six types of CTG Rodeios in the localities of Crossroads District, Pito District, Deer Farm, Good Hope, Model Farm, and Ibicuí District in different months of the year. 


    The biggest party in the city, at the Ouro Verde Exhibition Park the State Festival of Erva-Mate (Fesmate).  In September.

    Butter Festival, in the district of Marcílio Dias. In November. 

    Shooting Party, at the headquarters of the Clube de Tiro ao Alvo in the Campo d’Água neighborhood. In October. 

    Shooting PartySource.


    National Baked Piglet Festival (FENAL). The National Festival of Roast Piglet is held annually in the city.  

    Frei Rogério

    Sakura Matsuri – Cherry Blossom Festival. In September, early spring.

    Fruits of Peace Party. It brings together all the agricultural crops of the region. In the second weekend of February.

    Frei Fest. Every two years, between January and February.

    Party Sakura Matsuri. Source.


    Feast of gold, at Servita’s Gym. In March. 

    Anniversary of the City, at Dr. Aldo Ivo Stumpf Square. In December. 


    Grated Meat and Chicken on the Spit Party that celebrates the anniversary of the city. It takes place in October, on structures set up in the streets of the historic neighborhood Alto Paraguaçu.

    Polish Night, promoted by the Polish Cultural Association. In August. Feast Room of St. Stanislaus Church. Historical Center of Alto Paraguaçu.

    Polish night. Source.


    Heimfest, typical German party, with music, dancing and local cuisine. Lar dos Velhinhos, 1.120 Gustavo Friedrich Street, Vila Nova. In March. 

    Bucovinafest, dances, folkloric presentations and typical foods celebrate the tradition of families from Bavaria (Southern Germany). In July.

    City’s anniversary celebrations, shows, handicraft fair, typical foods and Producer’s Party. In September. 


    Hawaii Night, at the Termas de Piratuba complex. In January. 

    Kerbfest, in the Event Center. In January

    Kerbfest. Source.

    Porto União 

    Steinhaeger and Xixo Party: besides the specialties that give the party its name, it serves dishes of German gastronomy. There are also artistic performances, shows and parades. At Espaço Estação União. Hercílio Luz Square, s/n, Centro. In December.

    Bergbauernfest, it is the Feast of the Mountain Settlers, a typical German event, which rescues Germanic customs and traditions. In the locality of Maratá, 15 km from the center of Porto União. In November.


    Italian Sheep Feast and Dinner, held every two years, they celebrate the cultural heritage of immigrants, with emphasis on typical cuisine.


    Harvest Festival, event that celebrates the grape harvest with cultural presentations, followed by a typical Italian dinner. Held every year in the Rondinha community, in January or February.

    Expo Videira, shows, cultural presentations, knowledge seminars, business promotion and typical gastronomy. Every two years, at SER BRF Recreational Sports Society. Rua 10 de Setembro, 1.996 – Universitário.

    Christmas Decoration, with different themes every year, the magic of Christmas grows in Vine. The Rio do Peixe Park receives special lighting celebrating the coming of Santa Claus. The high points of the party are the Giant Tree and the Little House of Santa Claus. Cultural presentations also make the joy of the public and children.

    Anniversary of the Mário de Pellegrin Wine Museum, celebration of the foundation of the Wine Museum and the Canonical House, a building of relevant historical value, with cultural presentations. In September.

    Local Gastronomy

    The region’s cuisine shows the diversity of the colonizers, who brought with them the typical German and Italian culture and dishes and the food originating from the caboclos. The Flavors of Contest Festival, held by the city of Porto União/SC, enables a gastronomic circuit, where visitors have the opportunity to try several common dishes in the region. Another option for visitors is the Cansian Zamban restaurant located in Lages/SC, which besides the typical Italian cuisine also brings a collection of traditional recipes from the mountain region, such as paçoca de pinhão, entrevero, escondidinho, farofa de carne seca, quirera, feijão tropeiro, aipim frito, cabbage stew, carreteiro rice, feijoada, among others. In the city of Papanduva/SC the typical restaurants of the region serve the roasted lambari (of indigenous origin), the farofa de charque (heritage of the troopers) and the typical Polish recipes, such as the julienne soup (based on cooked vegetables, seasoned and served with cream) and the pierogi (similar to a baked pastry stuffed with ricotta).  The oriental descendants who live in Frei Rogério’s town keep the Japanese cuisine alive, among the many prepared foods are Inarizushi, one of the sushi varieties; Makizushi, rice rolls with seaweed and various fillings; Ryugan, a slice of seasoned bread stuffed with boiled egg, spicy flavor; Sakura Mochi: boiled rice dough with red dye spilled with salty cherry leaf; Moti tsuki: rice cake (moti) is punched in the wooden pestle and then distributed to those present at the Sakura Matsuri party. Several people take turns in the work of punching the moti, which symbolizes the human effort to have good luck in the year that is coming; Gings khan: strips of baked beef or sheep on a hot stove. And finally, the wineries of the Wine Valley region, responsible for 50% of all the wine produced in Brazil, close with a golden key the delights of the region. The mixture of German, Italian, Japanese gaucho and tropeira cuisine, among others, attracts many tourists who come to enjoy the delights of the state of Santa Catarina.

    The great attractions of the Contestado Valley, which honor the local history and culture, exemplify the possibilities of tourist exploitation in the region, which have resulted in greater economic development and improved the quality of life of residents. The local tourism is deeply connected to the memory of the Contestado War, which is part of the cultural identity and important historical landmark for the residents of the region, evident in many monuments, celebrations and tourist points of the cities in the Santa Catarina Plateau.

    Text by Francine Soares de Almeida and Karen Wesseler Jung.


    ATEMA, Associação do Turismo e Meio Ambiente. Festival Sabores do Contestado. Visite União, 2017. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    BALMANT, Evandro Klimpel. Irani – O Berço do Contestado. Blogger Turismo 2 rodas, 2012. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 de maio. 2020.

    Conheça Pinheiro Preto, capital Catarinense do Vinho. Blogger Casa de Roda, 2018. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    Culinária Campeira e Gaúcha. Turismo Santa Catarina. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    Festas Típicas. Turismo Santa Catarina. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    O que fazer: Piratuba. Blogger Tripadvisor. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    RIBEIRO, Edison. Águas Termais de Piratuba – SC. Blogger Destino Florianópolis. Disponível em: <>.  Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    Portal de Turismo de Frei Rogério. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 21 maio. 2020.

    Site do Restaurante Cansian Zamban. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 de maio. 2020.

    VIANA, Andyara Lima Barbosa. Modelos relacionais para a organização e o desenvolvimento regional do turismo. UNISC, 2012. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 de maio. 2020.

  • Kendo – The Sword’s Path

    Publicado em 08/05/2020 às 06:40 PM

    Kendo is a martial art of Japanese origin and means ‘sword path’, which to lay people may seem similar to fencing, but to practicers the differences are profound and complex. In Kendo the bamboo swords (shinai) and armor are used to protect the head, belly and arms. In its origin, Kendo did not use bamboo and protections, as it was created from the combat techniques of the samurai (who used traditional swords) in the period of feudal Japan and over time the sport has been modernizing. The fight consists of handling the sword and hitting the opponent on specific points. In addition to the lessons of fighting, the kendocas learn about respect and discipline, lessons that are present in everyday Japanese life. Respect is maintained among all, also to clothing, the Dojo (training place), nature and everything around it.

    In Brazil there are records of about 1000 kendocas, despite this number not being accurate since many people practice without being registered, in Japan about 1.2 million and in the world 2 million practitioners. The Kendo arrived in Brazil together with the first immigrants who already practiced it and their descendants, initially only among them in the interior of the state of São Paulo and later the practice was spread and took greater proportions as the creation of several training centers in many Brazilian states. The following video was recorded at Celso Ramos Colony, in the city of Frei Rogério – SC and relates about the day-to-day training, some fights and the clothing used for the practice of the martial art.


    KOBAYASHI, Luiz. Kendo no Brasil – panorama da pesquisa e um breve histórico. Centro de Estudos Nipo-Brasileiros, 2008. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 17 mai. 2020.

    SATO, Aline Oshiro. A História do Kendo no Brasil. Japas no Brasil, 2018. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 16 mai. 2020.

  • Enchanted in the middle of the people: The presence of the Prophet Saint John Mary in Santa Catarina

    Publicado em 30/04/2020 às 11:40 AM

    Tânia Welter’s book will interest many readers. Her light and fluent prose stimulates us to read and to reflect on the take us through a contemporary universe in which religiosity linked to a holy figure who passes through social classes, religions and ethnicities. Stimulated by her own experience as a researcher and teacher, Tânia Welter arrives at the figure of João Maria without stopping at an exploration history of the monk João Maria and of the Contestado War, theme so widely treated by various researchers. Before, it explores the contemporaneity of the universe of social relations that it calls “Joanine”: the universe today of the devotees of the monk João Maria. Dialogues, in However, with historians and anthropologists who have dedicated themselves to the subject.

    Without neglecting an appropriate methodology, showing the reader its production process, the text is not made in academic jargon restricted. However, the reader will be led to theoretical reflections and from them you’ll enjoy it if you choose to. Here begins the expression of the respect of author with those who are involved or have been involved in her work. In building the Joanine designation for her research universe, Welter is not building an ideal guy. Joanine is, rather, a interpretation device that makes it possible to show characteristics of a multifaceted universe which, as a result, makes it possible to know the extent of the social and cultural value of the figure of the monk to this day, past over 100 years from his death. This amplitude corresponds to a range of “appropriations” of the figure of the monk in rituals that propagate regardless of one’s religious affiliation and in the definition of places sanctified by him. The progressive and relatively fast introduction of Pentecostal churches into a universe primarily catholic did not bring back the devotion to the monk nor the rituals to him related. Welter’s approach opposes the folklorization of the monk and of the historical episode of its origin – the Contestado War (1912-16). Treated by the people of the Joanine universe as the Holy War, it is this is the historical fact to which the memory of John Mary refers. Welter treats also with a deep respect to the people with whom he lived during his long and extensive research work. The research work is a high point of this book, not only for the extent of the covered field but for the care with which the records were made and organized. It is worthy of notes the merit of a Tânia Welter researcher who immersed herself in her field without losing perspective on the goal of his work.

    She shows, then, how John Mary is still the figure that justifies family and social structures and even, in certain cases, leads to female empowerment. It shows how the elements that constitute the holiness of John Mary unveil a universe of social values who cross classes, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. It shows how your sanctification by individuals and families leads to identification with the nature by associating the monk with clean waters and fertile fields, and that the perspective of the end of the world is present in many formulations of John Mary as prophet. It also shows that John Mary is a factor of aggregation in peasant struggles and that both political and ecclesiastical power appropriate the figure of the monk in specific ways and on specific occasions.

    The book closes with a dense chapter of theoretical reflections that are responsible for the competent handling of field material. On the other hand, they are a stimulus to the birth of new questions and questions to be answered by other researches in the field of religiosity. In this book, in addition to what has been said, the purpose of inciting questions has been fully accomplished. Good answers lead to new questions.

    Presentation of the book by Maria Amélia Schmidt Dickie.


    WELTER, Tânia. Encantado no meio do povo: a presença do Profeta São João Maria em Santa Catarina. Sao Bonifacio: Edições do Instituto Egon Schaden, 2018.


    Publicado em 16/04/2020 às 12:11 PM

    The story begins in 1888, when Princess Isabel decrees the Golden Law, abolishing slavery in Brazil. Coffee production in this period was the great economy of Brazil and especially in São Paulo, but the farms worked with slave labor and with the abolition of slavery came the idea and the need to bring labor from immigrants.

    During the same period, Japan was isolated from the rest of the world for a period of more than 200 years during the EDO dynasty, ruled by the Tokogawa family, and there were no wars, epidemics and emigrants. Japan’s problem was that, being an archipelago, it would soon become saturated with overpopulation and that was what happened at the end of the 19th century. With the opening of its borders to foreign trade, many farmers suffered from unemployment due to the mechanization of agriculture, others lost their land because they could no longer pay the taxes that were collected in cash and no longer from their production, so they migrated to large cities that ended up being saturated with miserable workers.

    The problem is that before in Brazil only migration of European citizens was allowed, because due to prejudice, the idea was to ‘whiten the population’. Only in 1890 did President Deodoro da Fonseca sign a decree allowing the immigration of people from Africa and Asia, but only with the permission of Congress. Already in 1892 Law No. 97 was passed, which allowed this process without restrictions.

    Despite the beginning of planning on immigration between the two countries, in 1897 there was a crisis with overproduction of coffee and the price fell sharply, recovering only in 1901 and Brazil again encouraged immigration of Japanese to work on coffee farms. In 1905, Japan’s Minister Fukashi Sugimura visited Brazil to write a report for the Japanese authorities, the Minister was well received and welcomed and thus reported on the country in a positive manner. Thus began the preparations for the arrival of the first ship with Japanese immigrants that arrived in Brazil on the ship Kasato Maru on June 18, 1908 in the port of Santos bringing with it 781 Japanese.

    However, the arrival in Brazil was not as expected by the immigrants, because despite having a negotiation agreement between the two governments for immigration, the labor agency was carried out by private companies that live based on profits. The Brazilian propaganda to encourage immigrants was that coffee was easy to pick with your hands, it was the “tree that gave gold” due to great productivity and that the contractors would give housing, but without specifying the housing conditions, because they needed to make it attractive to the Japanese. Then, they soon saw that they wouldn’t get rich enough to return to their country of origin, another difficulty was the adaptation with the climate, alimentary habits and the way of life in general, besides the prejudice.

    However, after years, some families ended up saving enough to buy their first land here, moreover, the immigration contracts were made with the family, meaning that the Japanese could not come here single or alone it was necessary to come in couples and with children. These factors ended up perpetuating the stay of the Japanese in Brazil.

    The first impression of Brazilians for the Japanese, despite the prejudice, was quite surprising, this because the Japanese came here from lower social classes and the Brazilians thought they would be dirty and miserable people and when they arrived here even the lower classes of Japanese were extremely clean, organized and educated.

    Some even brought pen and paper which at that time was considered a luxury for a manual laborer. Although everyone had educated dignity, prejudice still existed in most of the population and the media spoke ill of the government that wanted to bring them.

    Due to the isolation in the countryside to work on the farms, they lived more or less as they did in their home country, formed communities around here with Japanese schools for their children and continued to speak Japanese, many did not even learn the Portuguese language while living here. After the Kasato Maru, several other ships came to Brazil bringing thousands of immigrants who later dispersed to several states of the country forming colonies and spreading the culture of their people.


    FREITAS, Eduardo de. Imigração japonesa no Brasil. Mundo Educação, 2018. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 22 mar. 2020.

    KAWANAMI, Silvia. Imigração japonesa no Brasil. Japão em Foco, 2008. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 16 abr. 2020.

    Text by Alexandre Lima de Oliveira

  • The Contestado War: Brazil’s Biggest Civil War

    Publicado em 15/04/2020 às 04:10 PM

    The Contestado War was an armed conflict between the peasants and the army of the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná – a region that did not have the boundaries well defined, therefore the name Contestado – between 1912 and 1916. The construction of the railroad by the North American company Brazil Railway, which linked the city of São Paulo to Santa Maria, in Rio Grande do Sul, is considered by researchers to be one of the main reasons for the conflict. 

    Together with the concession for the construction of the road, the Brazil Railway Company, created by Percival Farquhar in 1906, now owns 15 kilometers of land strip on either side of the highway. This concession expelled thousands of caboclos from their lands who would have nowhere else to make a living. The large complex, in addition to working in the railroad branch, promoted the deforestation of the region for use in logging companies.

    The original inhabitants of the region, who lost their lands, rebelled. They destroyed railway stations, burned Lumber, in the city of Calmon, which was part of the Company, and attacked the colonels, who represented the state. The war left approximately 8,000 dead, mostly poor peasants from the Contestado region.

    The map below shows the State of Santa Catarina, and the path taken by the railroad in dotted, with the cities of the region in focus.

    Source: DIACON, Todd A. Millenarian vision, capitalist reality – Brazil’s Contestado Rebelion, 1912-1916. 4 ed., Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002. p. 47. 


    VALENTINI, Delmir José. Atividades da Brazil Railway Company no sul do Brasil: A instalação da Lumber e a Guerra na região do Contestado (1906-1916). PUCRS. Porto Alegre, 2009. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 15 abr. 2020.

    Text by Karen Wesseler Jung.