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Title:Urban cowboys: an examination of gaúcho identity formation in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Author(s):Sauls, James D
Contributor(s):Goldman, Dara E.
Department / Program:Latin American & Carib Studies
Discipline:Latin American Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rio Grande do Sul
Abstract:This piece investigates the historical, economic, and social development of South America’s cowboy, the gaúcho. Situated in southern Brazil, it tracks the emergence of a particular rural way of life and the subsequent conservative social movement established to safeguard the identity it created. It illustrates how the elites in Porto Alegre, the capital of Brazilian’s southernmost state Rio Grande do Sul, separated the gaúcho from his historical home on the vast plains of the Campanha and changed him into an idealized hero of the Farroupilha Revolution of 1835, a separatist regional revolution. Applying ethnographic research methods, this project tracks the establishment of gaúcho culture and the ways in which individuals adopt an idealized characterization of it to develop meaningful regional identities in the early years of the twenty-first century. Then, it examines the relationship between four individuals’ formal and informal participation in the traditionalist movement, as well as their attempts to negotiate and (re)define gaúcho identity based on their own experiences and beliefs. The thesis argues that although the traditional way of life of the gaúcho collapsed after the introduction of new technologies in the late nineteenth century, the idealized rural figure continues to be a strong source of pride for urbanites in the southernmost Brazilian state and beyond. Set in the industrial city of Caxias do Sul, this work illuminates how individuals contribute certain personal positive qualities to their understanding of gaúcho identity, while simultaneously pushing against the identity´s constructed status quo.
Issue Date:2015-04-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 James Sauls
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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