Printer Friendly

Symbolic conflicts, deadly consequences: fights between Italians and blacks in western Sao Paulo, 1888-1914.

In early October, 1891, Jose Rodrigues de Sampaio, coffee planter in the municipio (district) of Sao Carlos, in western Sao Paulo, gave a dinner for his workers to celebrate the harvest. After dinner, the workers, most of whom were Italian immigrants, organized a barn dance. Several of Sampaio's Brazilian employees also attended the dinner and the dance. Zeferino Ferreira Lima, a black camarada (wage laborer) had invited a woman to dance when, according to his later account to the Sao Carlos police delegate, a Calabrian colono (1) named Antonio Lariago "insisted ... that he leave the lady and go dance with him, the aforesaid Lariago, to which he the interrogated responded that he would not do that because he had already taken a lady, to which the aforesaid Lariago, pulling out a revolver, said: that the interrogated had to dance with him, to which he the interrogated replied that in that case nobody would dance any more." (2) Zeferino and the others fled the barn, locked Antonio inside and called the fazendeiro (planter). Sampaio, with Zeferino by his side, called out "Antonio, what is this, calm down and stop making trouble" and started opening the door. (3) At this Antonio fired three shots toward the door, one of which wounded Zeferino on the side of his chest.

On another Sao Carlos plantation two years later, at an Italian wedding party, a group of black men and women from the plantation entered and began dancing. One of them, named Tachiano, began arguing with his wife. At this an Italian friend of his, Antonio Bartolomeu, intervened, striking Tachiano with an ax handle. Tachiano grabbed the ax out of Antonio's hands and hit him in the face with the blunt side of the ax head, blinding him in one eye, and fled with his wife (4)

Reading police and court records regarding violent conflict between Italian immigrants and black or brown Brazilians, one repeatedly encounters situations of easy interaction and sociability that explode into violence. This was no segregationist society: Italians and people of color lived in the same neighborhoods, worked, drank, gambled and danced together, visited one another and formed interracial couples. Yet it was no egalitarian and color-blind "racial democracy" either. An undercurrent of tension menaced the everyday interactions of immigrants and Afro-Brazilians.

Even chance encounters could be dangerous. During a religious festival in 1906, mulatto Heitor Rodrigues da Silva and Italian Gaspar Sabino bumped into each other at the door of Sao Carlos's central church. Heitor held Gaspar by the arm, apparently trying to help him regain his balance, and Gaspar took offense. According to both Heitor and an Italian witness, Gaspar responded that he was not a cripple. In his own account, the words were stronger: "compatriot [sic] I am not drunk or crazy [for you] to support me." This started an argument between the two, continuing with an exchange of insults in the nearby public garden. Two Italian friends restrained Heitor to prevent him from attacking Gaspar, whereupon Gaspar kicked him. At this Heitor broke free, pulled out a knife and plunged it into Gaspar's back. (5)

The common element in most of these fights between Italians and Afro-Brazilians was a struggle over who should obey or defer to whom. Antonio Lariago was enraged that Zeferino had the impudence to turn down his request for a dance, giving priority to the woman he, Zeferino, had chosen, who probably was not white. Tachiano hit his friend Antonio Bartolomeu in the face with the ax because Bartolomeu had intervened in Tachiano's private quarrel, arrogantly and violently claiming authority over him. Fights between Italians and nonwhites were likely to erupt when an Italian, without a formal position of authority, assumed an air of superiority, issuing commands or claiming precedence, or when a dark skinned Brazilian openly affirmed his, or, occasionally, her, equality and dignity, insisting on equal treatment, or in some other way manifested "disrespect" for Italians. The case of Heitor Rodrigues da Silva shows that even small acts of courtesy by dark Brazilians could be taken as insults by Italians, because they placed the two parties on the same level.

Racial competition for jobs was not acute in this period because there was little unemployment in Sao Carlos, especially during the boom years of the first decade after abolition. Competition between men for women was more intense and stimulated several fights, due largely to the excess of single men among immigrants. (6) Even fights over material issues, however, were intensified by Italian demands for precedence and Afro-Brazilian refusal to yield.

Anton Blok argues that much research on violence suffers from an exclusive emphasis on causes, leading to neglect of its roles and meanings in social life. To understand what violence between immigrants and nonwhites meant during the period of mass immigration to Sao Paulo following Brazilian abolition, we must treat it as symbolic behavior, which says something, rather than as irrational irruption. We should also--and here I am following the lead of Norbert Elias--consider the role of intimidation in everyday relations between immigrants and nonwhites. (7) An atmosphere of intimidation takes hold when the stronger, the better armed or the more numerous impose their wills on others by threats of physical violence. Due to superior numbers and greater familiarity with firearms, Italians and other European immigrants had decisive advantages in violent confrontations with blacks and mulattos. In addition to the tragedies of lives cut short, pain, incapacitation, and the suffering of survivors, much of the import of violence between immigrants and Afro-Brazilians was that it reinforced intimidation of the latter, restricting their mobility, autonomy and boldness.

Here I will concentrate on the relations of just one European group, Italians, with nonwhite Brazilians. Italians constituted by far the largest immigrant group in western Sao Paulo, and were the first to arrive in massive numbers. Italian-black interaction set the tone for relations between later immigrants and the population of color.

Blacks and immigrants in post-abolition Sao Paulo

The classic work of Florestan Fernandes has shaped much of the debate on the transition from slavery to free labor in Sao Paulo. (8) Historians of slavery contest Fernandes's argument that, in addition to leaving a legacy of racism, it left libertos (freedmen and women) anomic, with deficient family and community ties, and irresponsible, lacking self discipline, hence incapable of competing with immigrants in the labor market. Diverse authors demonstrate the resilience of slave families and communities, the collective capacity of slaves to negotiate, resist and rebel, and the creativity of slaves in defining spheres of autonomy, blurring the boundaries between slavery and freedom, and manipulating legal contradictions to force individual emancipation. (9) Most critics of the Fernandes thesis, however, "only" study slavery, demolishing a key part of his argument without developing an alternative explanation for the post-emancipation difficulties of blacks. The spectacular advances in studies of Brazilian slavery and abolition in recent years contrast with the lack of attention to what happened to blacks after emancipation. (10) Some who study the post-emancipation period tend to dilute the specificities of Afro-Brazilian experience in the broader category of the poor or, in Latin American parlance, the "popular classes"; (11) others, especially those who study criminal court records, which provide more information on the everyday life of the poor, do address black-white interactions or discrimination in the justice system, but they concentrate almost exclusively on big city life. (12)

Because they do not study the post-emancipation period, most critics of Fernandes do not address two other key assertions of his: that employers were prejudiced against blacks, systematically favoring immigrants when they were available; and that immigrants replaced blacks in the most dynamic sectors of the paulista economy and in the occupations that allowed the most opportunities for social mobility, relegating both libertos and freeborn blacks to unstable or low wage activities, such as day labor, street vending or domestic service. Writings on immigration to Sao Paulo generally do not address these points either, because they tend to ignore the presence of blacks, concentrating on the difficulties faced by immigrants, especially coffee colonos, and debating their opportunities for saving money and acquiring land. (13)

George Reid Andrews, one of the few critics of Fernandes to directly address the issue of why impoverished immigrants and their children experienced higher rates of social mobility than Afro-Brazilians, presents evidence that blacks could compete with immigrants, but lost ground largely because they demanded more in negotiations with planters and other employers, resisting, in particular, female and child labor. (14) Even authors who compare Afro-Brazilians and immigrants rarely study everyday relations between them. (15) Their futures depended not only on the prejudices of elites and market competition with unknown strangers but also on the nature of face to face interaction between members of the two groups, which could heighten or limit opportunities, ambitions, solidarities, tensions and fears.

Many Afro-Brazilians remained in the countryside of Sao Carlos after abolition, and many of those who migrated moved locally, principally to the town of Sao Carlos. On the coffee frontier, which included Sao Carlos for roughly the first decade after 1888, there was high labor demand, due to plantation expansion and the construction of branch railway lines, so many blacks found employment despite discrimination. Immigrants and poor Brazilians of all colors interacted at work and in a variety of other everyday settings. Black and mulatto families often lived in the colonias (worker settlements on the plantations) alongside immigrants, particularly during the first decade after abolition, and both criminal and census records indicate that some black and brown women lived with European men. Immigrants and Afro-Brazilians also encountered one another in rural vendas (general stores and taverns) where men gathered to drink and gamble after work and on Sundays, and at country dances and horse races, attended by both men and women. In the town of Sao Carlos, immigrants and nonwhites lived in the same neighborhoods, and they met on the streets, at work, and in vendas, boarding houses and restaurants.

Immigration and change in the population of Sao Carlos

As a consequence of abolition, the expansion of the coffee plantations and, especially, mass immigration, the population of Sao Carlos grew rapidly and changed dramatically in composition. At the time of the 1886 provincial census, people of African (preto and pardo) and indigenous (caboclo) descent constituted 55% of the 16,104 local residents. Slightly over half of the 5950 pretos and pardos were enslaved, and an additional 21.5% were ingenuos, "free" children of slave mothers owing labor services until age 21, in accordance with the Free Womb Law of 1871. An unknown number of others were libertos. In other words, among local residents of African descent, the great majority were still enslaved or had experienced slave life, reflecting the reluctance of planters in the booming coffee regions to free their slaves. There were 2051 foreigners in 1886, half of them Italians. (16)

By 1907, when district authorities conducted a local census, the proportion of whites in Sao Carlos had increased dramatically. In the two decades between 1886 and 1907, the number of Italians increased tenfold and the number of other foreigners, especially Spaniards and Portuguese, by a factor of four. In 1907, the foreign born constituted approximately 40% of the local population, and immigrants headed 67% of families (the difference is due to Brazilian-born children of immigrants); half of the families were headed by Italians. Blacks and mulattoes jointly comprised about 14% of urban and 12% of rural residents. (17)

In 1899 the local Clube da Lavoura (Agricultural Association) collected data regarding the labor force on Sao Carlos fazendas (plantations). The great majority of the 15,688 workers were immigrants: Italians alone constituted two thirds of the labor force, and other foreigners contributed another fifth. However, the 1242 workers defined as blacks (pretos, the only nonwhite category used) were still the third largest group, constituting almost 8% of plantation workers. (18)

Authors who compare immigrants and blacks in the post-emancipation period state that, in the coffee-growing regions of western Sao Paulo, immigrants monopolized the family colonato contracts, with their mixture of fixed remuneration for periodic weeding of a given number of coffee bushes, variable payments, depending on the quantity of coffee beans harvested, and rights to plant food crops and live rent-free in small houses. The colonato, in this view, constituted an important advantage for immigrants, in relation to blacks, because, with years of hard work and good luck, especially in the form of good health, some colono families were able to save enough to acquire small farms or businesses. Most of the literature agrees that blacks only worked on the plantations as camaradas, individual laborers paid by the month or the day, or as specialized workers, such as carters, herdsmen or masons. Few writings on racial discrimination in this period re-analyze individual-level occupational data, because almost all of the census manuscripts were destroyed or lost, and most early Republican censuses did not collect information on race in any case. (19)

The 1907 Sao Carlos census is one of the rare sources that permit examination of occupational distributions by categories of race and nationality. Table 1 presents results for male heads of households. Contrary to assertions found in almost all of the relevant literature, blacks were not excluded, and did not systematically exclude themselves, from the colonato. Although Italian and Spanish families were more likely to be colonos, this was also the most common occupation of families headed by black (43.5%) or mulatto (31.3%) men. The 329 black or mulatto-headed colono families were more numerous than the 299 Spanish or the 230 Portuguese colono families. (20)

The presence of a small number of black and mulatto family heads in positions of authority on fazendas is worthy of note. These men included three preto and two mulatto fazenda administrators, one preto administrator's assistant and a mulatto foreman (feitor). At least one black administrator ran a relatively large fazenda and was supervising road maintenance by a gang of Italian and Brazilian colonos when he fought with the white administrator of a neighboring fazenda (owned by the same man) over their relative authority. (21)

By 1907, Sao Carlos was no longer on the frontier of coffee production, so few families held the more lucrative empreitada contracts (for the formation of new coffee groves). However the proportions of male black and mulatto heads of households with such contracts were actually higher than those among Italian and Spanish family heads, perhaps because many Europeans were recent arrivals with little coffee growing experience.

The category lavrador (agriculturalist) seems to include all whose livelihood derived primarily from raising crops on land under their own control. Substantial numbers of both nonwhites and immigrants had gained direct access to land by 1907, although white Brazilians were much more likely to have such access. Among male heads of families, roughly one of every thirteen blacks and one of ten mulattos were classified as lavradores, proportions higher than those for Italian or Spanish-headed families and slightly lower than that for Portuguese families. The great majority of these immigrant and Afro-Brazilian lavradores were not listed as landowners in the 1904-5 agrarian census and must have rented, sharecropped, used relatives' land, squatted, or served as agregados, who worked subsistence plots in exchange for loyalty and labor services. (22)

Consistent with the literature, black and mulatto family heads were substantially more likely than their immigrant counterparts to work as rural laborers. In combination with the lower proportion of colonos among Afro-Brazilians, this does suggest some degree of racial discrimination or black avoidance of the colonato. However, there were at most tendencies for discrimination or self-selection, often outweighed by other characteristics or preferences of the families involved; there was no strict occupational segregation. Table 1 also underestimates the number of European camaradas, because it does not include single or unaccompanied workers. Large numbers of Portuguese and southern Italian men immigrated to Sao Paulo alone, and many worked as rural wage laborers. (23) Considering only men aged 15 to 60 not living in family units, 30.9% of 395 Italians and 45.7% of 184 Portuguese were employed as camaradas in 1907. These figures are similar to those found among black (41.9% of 296) and mulatto (45.1% of 51) men living independently.

Immigrants, blacks and browns also mixed in the other manual occupations. Consistent with the historical literature, Afro-Brazilians were particularly likely to work in occupations permitting greater autonomy, such as the transportation of goods and persons, but many Italians also acted in this sector. Mulattos and Italians were somewhat more likely than others to be artisans or skilled manual workers.

The most important point here is that, outside of the elite, Europeans did not enjoy any labor market monopolies and encountered Afro-Brazilians in almost all of the manual occupations. In many cases, they worked side by side or carried out similar tasks. Most immigrants could easily encounter blacks or mulattos in class positions equal or superior to their own.

It is clear, however, that, with a few, generally mulatto, exceptions, Afro-Brazilians were still excluded from the elite almost two decades after final abolition. All of the great fazendeiros, and almost all of the rich merchants, civil servants, and urban professionals, were white. There were, however, a few large immigrant fazendeiros and significant numbers of Italian, Portuguese and Syrian (or Lebanese) merchants, some of whom regularly paid for full or half page advertisements in local newspapers. In fact, there were over three times as many Italian as Brazilian merchants. Sao Carlos blacks and mulattos were also less likely than immigrants to be literate. Among male heads of households in 1907, literacy rates were only 15.5% for blacks and 28.9% for mulattos, whereas Italian, Spanish and Portuguese rates were all between 45 and 50 per cent--still below the 66% rate among Brazilian whites.

The immigrant elite could help defend the interests of their poorer compatriots. In Sao Carlos during the 1890's, the Italian merchant and journalist Giovanni Ferracciu, also known as Del Simoni, was a tireless advocate for the Italian community. (24) With the aid of the immigrant elite, many poor immigrants sent complaints regarding fazendeiro or police mistreatment to their consuls in the city of Sao Paulo. The consuls typically sent the complaints on to the state Police Chief, who often requested intervention by local police delegates, which sometimes resolved the problems. (25) The Afro-Brazilian population had very few elites and no consuls to whom they could turn. For most, the only possible patrons, in a country where ordinary people needed, and often still need, the protection and assistance of the powerful to resolve mundane problems, were to be found among the local white Brazilian elite.

Relative frequencies of violent aggression

Using police and court data regarding violent events between 1905 and 1909, in conjunction with the 1907 local census, it is possible to estimate group-specific accusation and victimization rates. Criminal records do not always identify color of accused and victims, so these data must be approached with caution. (26) Some patterns seem clear, however. Homicide accusation rates for both Italians and Afro-Brazilians (respectively, 19 and 25 per 100,000 per year) were considerably higher than that for white Brazilians (about 8), but blacks and mulattos were much more likely than Italians or any other group to be victims of violence. Their homicide victimization rate was 33 per 100,000, whereas the rates for Italians and white Brazilians were 11 and 9, respectively. Similar patterns hold for accusation and victimization rates in other cases of violence, although the differences are less extreme, perhaps because much nonlethal violence was never reported.

Table 2 presents the frequencies for various combinations of race or ethnicity of accused and victim in cases of violence or attempted violence. As in almost all times and places, people were more likely to fight with those of their own group. This occurs simply because there is more interaction within than between groups, and violence usually stems from the tensions and disputes of everyday life. (27) The relative numbers of the different groups also influenced the frequency of intra-group fights. For example, it is to be expected that intra-group violence was more common among Italians because, as the largest single group for the majority of the period studied, they had many more opportunities to fight with their own kind. The most interesting data in table 2 are in the off-diagonal cells, which permit comparison of the relative frequencies with which people of different groups attacked one another. Cases with more than one aggressor or victim are here weighted to equal the number of victims. This is a conservative procedure, which does not take into account the number of attackers in group violence. Because, as we shall see below, Italians were prone to group attacks against blacks, weighting the cases to equal the number of aggressors would greatly increase the frequency of Italian-black violence in this table. Unfortunately this procedure is not possible, due to the unknown number of attackers in some cases of group violence.

In cases of violence between Afro and white Brazilians, roughly two-thirds of the 99 victims were black or mulatto, but the ratios were even higher in cases of immigrant-nonwhite violence: in fights between Italians and blacks or mulattos, three-quarters of the 68 victims were nonwhite; the proportion of black and mulatto victims is only slightly lower in the 44 fights between other immigrants and Afro-Brazilians. (28) This is consistent with the idea that immigrants were particularly touchy--perhaps more so than white Brazilians--in interactions with blacks or mulattos. Afro-Brazilians were particularly likely to suffer lethal violence by members of other groups, probably because they had less access to and familiarity with firearms and because they were usually outnumbered. Fights between white and Afro-Brazilians resulted in four times as many black and mulatto deaths as white Brazilian deaths, and Italians murdered Afro-Brazilians nine times as often as blacks or mulattos killed Italians.

Police and court records as sources for the study of everyday racial tensions

A violent conflict stimulates diverse, and often divergent, perceptions and interpretations among participants and witnesses. (29) The legal professionals of late 19th and early 20th century Brazil--police delegates, clerks, prosecutors, lawyers and judges--used declarations by accused and victims and depositions of witnesses to construct their own versions of violent events. In the process, categories of the law, social and professional values, and strategies for winning cases (in the case of prosecutors and lawyers) filtered, classified and arranged the declarations and depositions into new narratives affirming the guilt or innocence of the accused. For this research, the stories of accused, victim and witnesses are more important than the second order narratives constructed by legal professionals, but it is important to remember that, because Brazilian police and judicial clerks did not transcribe the exact words of testimony, but wrote them down in the third person ("He replied that....") and often summarized parts ("They proceeded to a mutual exchange of insults"), a layer of representation separates us from the interpretations proffered by participants and witnesses. (30)

Most statements by accused, victims and witnesses took the form of what Harold Garfinkel calls accounts, narratives that justify an act or a situation. (31) Although one can almost always identify points of agreement, different observers and participants selected and emphasized different aspects of the event sequences leading to physical violence. Systematic variation in accounts provides valuable clues regarding variation in perceptions and interpretations, including variation by race and ethnicity. (32) Accused and victims almost always told self-interested stories; witnesses perceived and made sense of conflicts from specific vantage points defined principally by social position, ethnic or racial identity, and their relationships to the individuals in conflict. In the great majority of cases, everyone acknowledged that the accused had committed the violent act, but they disputed whether or not it was justified. The accused generally asserted that victims had provoked them and victims, if they survived, claimed they had done nothing to deserve the attacks or had simply responded to prior insults. Different witnesses also highlighted different insults and provocations. In the varying stories about who provoked whom, it is possible to identify Italian notions of outrageous black or brown behavior and Afro-Brazilian notions of intolerable offenses by Italians.

Statements before police delegates are generally more useful for analysis than those given in court because they were taken soon after the events and they did not suffer the interference of lawyers. On the other hand, many "confessions" during police inquiries are of dubious value because delegates extracted them with beatings and threats.

Symbolic wounds and provocations

At the end of May 1895, Anastacio Cosme, a 21-year-old preto stonemason, was building a sidewalk in the city of Sao Carlos when two Italian peddlers tried to walk over the freshly laid stones. (33) According to Anastacio's declaration to the police delegate,
 he said to the first one, who he now knows is named Jorge Muzzi, that
 he should not pass there because the stones were not firmly settled
 and could shift, thus causing them harm. The Italian went out to the
 middle of the street, turned to him, the interrogated, and asked him
 if he was a district judge [juiz de direito]. The interrogated
 responded that he was not a district judge, but that [the Italian]
 should not pass because he would ruin the work. The Italian then
 stated that the interrogated was not a Christian but just a stupid
 black [negro burro] and that he would walk through that place, not
 being afraid of a hundred men like the interrogated. Then he
 threatened the interrogated with a measuring stick that he had in his
 hand and started to put down the trunks he was carrying. When he had
 finished unloading himself, the interrogated gave him a blow with the
 straightedge he used.

The Italian, struck in the temple, fell down dead and his companion fled.

This sidewalk tragedy is emblematic of the contradictory tensions and pressures that poor Italians and Afro-Brazilians felt as they faced one another in the years after abolition. The Italian peddler, so poor that he could not afford a donkey and had to carry his wares on his back, was too proud to accept orders from a black man and claimed distinction by asserting that blacks could not be Christians--thus worthy of respect--and were stupid as mules (burro meaning both stupid and mule). On the Italian side, the issue was purely symbolic: the peddlers had nothing to lose but their pride by walking around the sidewalk. As for Anastacio, he was protecting his work, but everything suggests that he hit the Italian not to avoid re-laying some stones but in retaliation for symbolic wounds.

The criminal records suggest that Italians and people of color often engaged in classification struggles. (34) Nonwhites denied the hierarchical significance of color, but Italians tended to perceive it as a master categorization scheme and associated dark skin with negative characteristics such as stupidity, paganism, laziness and drunkenness. The Italian's use of the word negro in itself constituted a demeaning insult (preto was a more neutral term in this period), bringing up the stigma of slavery and stereotypes of black viciousness and perversity that had spread during the last years before abolition. (35) Alternative principles of classification, such as occupation, age, education or citizenship, could easily favor individual blacks over individual Italians, so Italians, particularly, one suspects, poor and illiterate Italians, insisted on the fundamental importance of color.

In this case and many others, elites manifested little inclination toward automatic racial solidarity with poor Italians. Anastacio's story was corroborated in essential aspects not only by his black assistant but also by two white Brazilian witnesses, a merchant and an "agriculturalist". The jury, drawn primarily from local Brazilian elites, convicted him, but he was sentenced to only eleven months in jail. On appeal, a second jury acquitted him.

A few years later, Vicenzo Maggiorino, a 40 year old carter and agricultural laborer from Campania, stabbed Joao Damaceno, a 39 year old black carpenter, several times because Joao refused to sell him three used beds, a carpenter's bench and some old roof tiles, property of the carpenter's brother. (36) According to the parda Manuela Maria da Conceicao, who was Vicenzo's comadre (one of them was the godparent of the other's child), rented a house from Joao and witnessed the events along with Joao's wife,
 Joao Damaceno refusing to carry out the sale because the objects in
 question were not his and also because of the insignificance of
 Vicente's (37) offer, the latter called Joao Damaceno stupid [burro].
 That Joao Damaceno [then] told him that he was not stupid and that he
 too knew how to negotiate [conversar], that Vicente on hearing this
 response from Joao Damaceno grabbed him by the throat and Joao also
 grabbed Vicente to defend himself. (38)

According to both of the women and Joao, Vicenzo left and returned with a knife. Joao ran away, but Vicenzo pursued him and stabbed him in the back. Joao then tripped, falling face down, and Vicenzo stabbed him several more times. Joao, who survived, complained to both the police and a Portuguese merchant he knew, and the merchant helped the police arrest Vicenzo a few days later.

Once again, the Italian in this story attempts to associate blackness with stupidity and the black refuses this categorization, affirming that he has equal mental powers (and business sense). Vicenzo did not erupt into murderous rage over some used furniture and roof tiles; what so irritated him was that a black man did not defer to his desires and presumed to bargain with him as an equal.

The demand for deference and obedience from the dark skinned could unite immigrants across ethnic boundaries. In December, 1900, a 19 year old Syrian peddler and a Calabrian barber a year older beat up Claudio Cherubino de Sousa, a 38 year old black laborer, for refusing to rebuild a fence between their houses. (39) On the order of his employer, who apparently owned the houses, Claudio had filled in a well of fetid water, taking down part of the fence to facilitate the work. According to the Italian carter who was working with Claudio, the Syrian arrived shouting "black shit [negro de merda], now [that] the job is finished you rebuild the fence." Claudio replied that he could only take orders from his employer, whereupon the Syrian
 came up to the preto punching him in the face and insulting him with
 very harmful words and continuing to slap him, the preto shouted and
 he the deponent, fearing the wrath of the turco, (40) did not help
 him.... [Then] Thomaz the barber appeared and took a whip that was on
 the ground by his, the deponent's, cart and with its handle struck the
 preto causing him the wounds he exhibits.... [T]he turco was holding
 one of the preto's arms and punching him ... while Thomaz the barber
 gave him blows with the whip handle.... [T]he preto tortured by so
 many blows managed to break free from his aggressors' clutches thus
 being able to flee out into the street, he the deponent also saw in
 the street the turco Pedro Alexandre and Thomaz the barber pursuing
 him throwing stones. (41)

When the Syrian showed up shouting insults and orders, Claudio refused to obey, and it was apparently this refusal that enraged the two young immigrants, who simply ignored the Italian carter implicated in the destruction of their fence.

Why symbolic conflict?

Interaction between unequals does not necessarily generate overt conflict or violence, as long as social hierarchies are settled and difficult to challenge. Resistance to domination always exists, but when hierarchies seem solid, it generally takes the disguised, and safer, forms of foot-dragging, sabotage and deception, which James C. Scott characterizes as the "weapons of the weak." (42) In post-abolition Sao Paulo, however, the significance of racial differences among the poor was not fixed and enduring. Everything was up for negotiation and redefinition.

Why did Italians and nonwhites fight over symbolic issues? Considering first the viewpoint of blacks and mulattos, we can start with Scott's observation that the most deeply felt injuries of domination and exploitation generally stem not from material deprivation per se but from the shame of involuntary subjection and the humiliation of having to accept abuse without responding (openly). (43) For people recently liberated from slavery--and who had in large measure freed themselves through increasingly open resistance and mass flight--attempts to put them down and boss them around must have reopened the symbolic wounds of their former condition, with an important difference: now they had greater freedom to respond. The situation of freeborn blacks and mulattos was more complex. Abolition opened the possibility of full citizenship for all people of color, but it also raised the danger that they would all be treated like libertos. People in these "intermediate" categories may have been particularly sensitive to immigrant claims to superiority.

Why was racial distinction so important to immigrants? The existing literature on Brazilian racial ideologies, focused largely on debates among elites and published representations, is not of much help here. (44) The scientific racism of the day remained rather distant for most immigrant workers, especially those employed on coffee plantations, whose everyday experience was limited to the coffee groves, the colonias where they lived, the central plantation installations, and a couple of vendas in the vicinity, supplemented by weekend visits to other plantations or the nearest town, and attendance at country dances and horse races. It is to this everyday experience that we must look to understand the condescending and often spiteful attitudes toward dark-skinned Brazilians internalized by Italians, who could observe for themselves how white Brazilians, especially plantation administrators and supervisors (diretores de colonos) treated, and talked about, their black and brown countymen. (45)

Although fazendeiros and their administrators considered Italians better workers, more civilized and more honorable than Afro-Brazilians, they saw them above all as cheap labor and tended to treat them like slaves. Plantation administrators imposed paternalistic rules, restricted worker mobility, carried whips, refused to let colonos quit before their annual contracts expired, and used violence and intimidation to bolster their authority and quell rebellious tendencies. (46) The despotic tendencies of some administrators extended to sexual harassment of Italian women and girls. In the towns, Italians faced similar treatment by the police, who routinely beat and robbed immigrant workers. (47) Certainly immigrants--substitutes for slaves, but also members of the "superior race"--perceived the contradictory attitudes of local elites, saw how white Brazilians treated blacks and browns, and soon learned the importance of maintaining clear distinctions between themselves and Afro-Brazilians. In other words, affirmation of racial difference and superiority became an implicit strategy of Italian resistance and defense of collective dignity.

In a classic article on racial prejudice, Harold Blumer argued that hostility toward a subordinate group stems not from difference or inequality as such but from a perception among members of the dominant group that subalterns who "don't know their place" are encroaching on their privileges, monopolies or spaces. (48) In post-abolition Sao Carlos, most such encroachments took the form of claims to the symbolic capital of respect, recognition and honor, rather than infringement on job monopolies or segregated spaces. (49) Precisely because their own situation was perilously close to that of pretos, many Italians experienced black and brown demands for respect and equal treatment as profoundly irritating threats to their sense of identity and honor.

The danger of small insults

Even small slights or insults between Italians and nonwhites could be dangerous. Heitor Rodrigues da Silva and Gaspar Sabino, in their conflict described in the introduction to this article, did not fight because they bumped into one another in the church door, but because an Italian refused to accept a simple courtesy from a mulatto, which publicly asserted the latter's inferiority. For blacks and browns, small insults from Italians connoted a life of subordination and everyday humiliations; for Italians, disrespect from nonwhites symbolized the danger that they would be equated with blacks.

June 24, 1906 was payday at the fazenda Santa Eudoxia, and workers crowded into the plantation's venda to drink part of their earnings. (50) Jose Vieira, a young moreno (literally, brown, also a common euphemism for black) from Bahia wanted a glass of wine, but the venda's counter was crowded and the others, mostly Italians, did not make room for him. According to the plantation administrator, he said he wanted a drink but was impeded by the men at the counter. In the version of the Italians, he tried to force his way through. One of them stated that "Jose Vieira tried to approach the counter by pushing." (51) Another said,
 the Bahian Jose Vieira suddenly entered and ordered the deponent and
 others to get back from the counter because he also wanted to have a
 drink [matar o bicho] thus speaking he pulled the knife in his belt
 around to the front thus showing that he was armed, and immediately
 [Antonio Marfetano] jumped in front of Jose and in one swoop disarmed
 him, yanking the knife out of its sheath and out of Jose Vieira's
 belt, and ran out of the store followed by Jose Vieira. (52)

This led to a fight between Jose and Antonio's father, who stabbed Jose in the shoulder.

Although we cannot know exactly what Jose was feeling in the venda, it is reasonable to suspect that the failure to make room for him provoked threatening behavior because it evoked a long experience of similar insults. The Italians at the counter, in turn, could not ignore this offense from an Afro-Brazilian, and Antonio, playing the hero for his friends, humiliated the impudent moreno.

Italians could also react with extreme violence to small provocations from blacks or browns. Although Italians did kill one another over verbal affronts, the insults were strong, typically "son of a whore" or derivatives, such as "go back to the whore who gave birth to you," generally considered the worst possible insults at the time and often acceptable to juries as excuses for murder. It is difficult to imagine, however, that Italians would have assaulted or killed other Italians for some of the offenses that prompted attacks on blacks or mulattos.

In 1897 two Italian adolescents killed a black man because they were annoyed by a bit of rough play. Early in the morning, Cuneo Albachiara, 17, and Domenico Albachiara, 13, sons of colonos and apparently cousins, set out to hunt armed with shotguns. (53) In the fazenda's pasture, they encountered Leopoldino de Campos, a preto (or pardo--both categories appear in the records) of about 25 who had been at a party all night and was walking home drunk, accompanied by an older black man, Manoel Adao Felizardo. According to Manoel's deposition, Leopoldino gave Cuneo a playful slap on the head, which knocked off his hat. Seeing this, Manoel,
 ran over to Leopoldino and grabbed him, asking him not to fight with
 the boys; that the boys backed off a few steps--stayed there with
 their shotguns cocked and, he the deponent thinking that nothing more
 would happen, on Leopoldino's request let him go; that then
 Leopoldino, seeing the attitude of the boys, opened the front of his
 shirt and said: "You want to shoot, shoot here"; in response the older
 boy ... fired a shot at his leg and when Leopoldino was falling the
 younger one ... fired a second shot at his neck which killed him on
 the spot.... [The boys] could easily have left the place when he the
 deponent was holding Leopoldino and asked them for the love of God to
 go away [because] Leopoldino was very drunk. (54)

In their defense the boys claimed that they were overcome by fear, portraying Leopoldino as a furious black monster who started beating them for no reason and then escaped from Manoel to continue the aggression. Manoel's version of the story (roughly corroborated by two other Brazilians, who saw the event from a distance), suggests a different interpretation: Cuneo was embarrassed and irritated by the presumptuous black man who played with him as if he were a child, knocking off his hat. When the boys threatened him, Leopoldino refused to back down and put on a show of defiance, daring them to shoot him. To let Leopoldino walk away at that point would have been to recognize the superior courage of a black man, an unbearable prospect, so the boys shot him. Perhaps an older, more experienced Italian would have tried to frighten and humiliate rather than kill--and here it is suggestive that the older boy shot at Leopoldino's legs, whereas the younger one fired the mortal shot.

Symbolic struggle in employment relationships

Italian-nonwhite employment and authority relationships necessarily involved Italian control and black or brown obedience, the same elements that were at stake in most of the fights discussed above. Italian employers and administrators, who readily adopted the authoritarian attitudes of their Brazilian counterparts, may well have felt disrespect by dark-skinned employees to be doubly irritating.

In 1892, Giuseppe Mirabelli, a 31-year-old "agriculturalist" from Calabria, stabbed his black cook, according to witnesses, because she had not made food and his coffee was cold. (55) In her statement to the police delegate, the cook added another reason for Giuseppe's irritation: she had scolded him for trying to seduce a married, and apparently black, woman. Nine years later, Saverio Guzzi, an Italian fazenda administrator, encountered a 36 year old liberto named Mateus arguing with another worker, Manoel Novaes, over Mateus's attempts to visit Manoel's fifteen year old daughter Luiza. (56) According to a young Brazilian witness, Guzzi said to Mateus: "Shut your mouth, or else you will get a beating. Mateus then said: you are unfit [baixo] to order me to shut my mouth. Guzzi hearing this left [and] went to the fazenda to get a whip and went looking for Mateus." (57) Finding Mateus by the coffee drying court, Saverio began whipping him. Mateus then hit Saverio with a piece of wood, saying--according to Luiza, who heard it from another woman, "Don't strike me any more, Saverio." (58) At this Guzzi pulled out a pistol and shot him, killing him instantly. The meaning of the whip to an ex-slave requires no commentary, and Guzzi's easy resort to the whip suggests that he despised Mateus and wanted to humiliate him. Killing him was an automatic and impulsive reaction when Mateus raised the stakes by refusing to submit. (59)

In 1912, Giovanni de Rienzo, a 50 year old Italian with a small coffee plantation clubbed Jose Martins, a black employee of the same age, for his insolence, breaking his arm and injuring his ribs. (60) In his declaration before the judge about a month later, Rienzo was unusually candid about his desire to put Jose in his place: "Martins who for some time was going around making mischief [reinando] started to not work and because of this he had the need to correct him." In 1913, Luigi Calegari, an Italian coffee planter, clubbed Ignacio Justino, a 67 year old black former worker of his, several times outside a venda after Ignacio invited him to a drink and took offense at his refusal. (61) To Calegari, the invitation seemed especially impudent because he had fired Ignacio a couple of years earlier and suspected that Ignacio had tried to set fire to his house in revenge.

Brazilian fazendeiros and administrators, including blacks and mulattos, also used violence and intimidation to control immigrants. In 1894, for example, when an Italian laborer insisted on receiving wages after seven months of unpaid work, mulatto empreiteiro Joaquim Rodrigues Pinto killed him with an ax and threw the body down a well. (62) Conflicts between fazendeiros and immigrants, however, were more likely to begin with disagreements over material issues, such as fines, debts, unpleasant tasks, or immigrant attempts to quit their jobs, whereas violence between Italian planters and black workers often occurred for more purely symbolic reasons. (63)

Group violence

Demographic preponderance favored group violence by immigrants, especially Italians, against nonwhite Brazilians, but the malevolence of some of these attacks suggests more than an effect of superior numbers. On Carnaval Sunday, 1894, a preto named Narciso faced the wrath of four to six (versions differ) Italian colonos because he dared to deny them a drink. (64) Three Leme brothers, two Paiaroni brothers and Domenico de Credico had started celebrating by dancing to the sound of Credico's accordion on the coffee drying court of their plantation, all but one dressed in skirts, with painted faces and decorative paper stuck to their bodies. After the administrator gave them a bottle of wine, they went off to the rural Ararahy train station, where they continued drinking and dancing in front of a venda, grabbing at passersby and inviting them to dance. Narciso, about 30, porter at the station, was visiting the white Brazilian venda owner, Guilherme Luiz Hopp. At about six o'clock, Guilherme, with Narciso's help, began closing the venda. The Italians asked for more wine, and Narciso conveyed the request to Guilherme, but he refused, saying the store was closed. When Narciso told the Italians, blocking the door, (65) they attacked him. According to Antonio Augusto de Oliveira, a young white Brazilian traveler, who was drinking coffee with a small group inside the venda,
 At this reply they grabbed Narcizo, pulled him out of the house and
 started to slap and kick him; at this cowardly [illegible] by four men
 against one he the deponent pulled Narcizo into the house and closed
 the door. The Italians then forced open the door and again attacked
 Narcizo with punches, [and] three of them, who he the deponent
 supposes to be brothers, held Narcizo while the fourth one punched him
 and stabbed him three times, being that two [of the stabbings] were
 clearly visible, for the knife on entering twisted around, the
 murderer delaying in pulling it out; he the deponent at that point
 clubbed the murderer on the head.... This Italian falling down
 wounded, his companions let Narcizo go in order to assist him, he the
 deponent pulling Narcizo into the interior of the house.... He advised
 Narcizo to hide in the cornfield to escape the Italians' fury. (66)

The coffee drinkers fled out a back window and ran to a nearby hotel. The Italians then tried to break down the doors of the hotel, but the hotelier and the others escaped to the nearby plantation where the Italians worked. Some returned with the plantation administrator "in order to protect Narcizo," but did not find him. (67) The next day, Narciso was found dead in the cornfield.

The Italians involved had all been in Sao Carlos, and probably in Brazil, for a year or less, but they had absorbed enough racism to be infuriated at a black who gave them orders, even if he was just transmitting a message from someone else. It was only after Antonio Augusto clubbed one of them (Credico) over the head with a whip handle that the Italians began to threaten the others.

During the subsequent police investigation and trial, the only white Brazilian inclined to defend the Italians was the plantation administrator, who probably did not want to lose workers. Although, with the exception of the young Antonio Augusto, the other (white Brazilian) witnesses had clearly been more interested in saving themselves than in saving Narciso, none of them demonstrated any sympathy for the Italians. The conviction of the five Italians arrested and their long jail sentences also suggest that local elites did not approve of gratuitous savagery against blacks by Italians. (68)

Those involved in Narciso's murder were all in conflict with him, in the sense that they all wanted more wine. In other cases of group violence by Italians against people of color, uninvolved bystanders joined in out of spite, outrage, or simply for the pleasure of beating a preto. On another Sunday afternoon ten years later, some 50 to 80 people, most of them Italian colonos of the fazenda Floresta, attacked two pretos, Jose Francisco do Nascimento and Avelino Bruno de Sant'Ana, outside a rural venda, leading to Jose Francisco's death several hours later. (69) In contrast to Narciso's murder, this case evinces white racial solidarity, transcending ethnic and class divisions.

The two blacks had spent the day drinking pinga (aguardiente) in the venda. According to Luigi Reali, the Italian owner of the establishment, his son had scolded them for practicing capoeira (a traditional Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance) in the store, leading to an argument. Later in the afternoon, according to both Luigi and his son, Jose Francisco pulled out a knife and threatened the other drinkers, who left the store, followed by the Jose Francisco and Avelino. At this moment, a large group of colonos and others, returning from some nearby horse races, arrived at the venda and encountered the two angry blacks, one of them waving around a knife. Francisco Augusto Vayego, the Spanish administrator of the Floresta plantation, was in this group and recognized Avelino. For reasons unexplained in the investigation--it is possible that Avelino was a former Floresta worker--their relationship was not good. Both the administrator and his assistant later reported that, on seeing Vayego, Avelino declared that he would end the administrator's life. A Portuguese colono responded that Avelino would not kill Vayego, at which Avelino, according to both of these witnesses (or participants), hit the Portuguese with a club, knocking him down, and began punching him. At this the crowd attacked the two blacks. In Vayego's account, "seeing this the people present, about sixty people, became indignant and beat up Avelino Sant'Ana and the preto his companion, who had a bared knife in his hand and defied them all. That he the deponent cannot specify the names nor the persons because [those who] took part in the beating [were] the people who had been at the track, which is to say, the entire neighborhood." (70)

If Avelino and Jose Francisco had been white, their aggressive behavior might have resulted in their arrest; it would not have led to a deadly beating by a crowd of onlookers. It was understood that all men of honor--that is, all white men--sometimes came into conflict with others and that such disagreements could escalate into violence, but these were seen as essentially private conflicts, and onlookers were reluctant to intervene. The crowd saw not quarreling individuals but impudent blacks aggressively defying whites. When Avelino clubbed the Portuguese colono and started punching him, it simply confirmed that these pretos were out of control and had to be put in their place.

No one was arrested for the crime, and the judge filed away the investigation for lack of information. In the case discussed above, only the Italians found Narciso's refusal to serve more wine impudent and irritating (because he was simply transmitting the orders of the white venda owner). On the other hand, all whites could see Jose Francisco and Avelino's erratic and menacing behavior as intolerable and could agree that these two pretos needed to be taught a lesson. Local authorities were willing to tolerate this collective violence because they agreed with it.

Over time, as Italians absorbed Brazilian racial ideologies, they probably developed more explicit notions of Afro-Brazilian inferiority and, with the growth of the immigrant population, they were better able to carve out segregated spaces. It is also possible that the deteriorating economic position of many Italians exacerbated their resentment against blacks and browns. After about 1897, overproduction led to declining coffee prices, and a couple of years later the real wages of coffee colonos and camaradas declined. (71) Rather than accumulating the savings or land they had dreamed of on arrival in Brazil, many Italians sank deeper into poverty. Some cases of violence hint at hardening racial attitudes during the second decade after abolition.

In March of 1904, a group of Italian colonos, both men and women, attacked a black man simply for entering their colonia. (72) On orders from his employer, Simao Joaquim de Assis had gone to the Fazenda Salto to get sugarcane shoots. After the administrator showed him the cane field, he remembered that he did not have a cutting tool, so he went to the colonia and asked to borrow a sickle or knife. A Portuguese witness later stated:
 The colonos then said that they did not want a negro there, that he
 should go away and soon after that the deponent saw the colono named
 Avelardo so and so beating Simao, which was also done by Donato [and]
 Rocco di Grosso, that the wounded Antonio Calesimo and some women were
 also part of the group that persecuted Simao, who very wounded
 returned under the blows of clubs and stones to the house where he had
 left [his] shotgun and there taking it he fired on the group. (73)

The colonos continued chasing Simao, who was finally rescued by the plantation administrator:
 The deponent [the administrator] saw Simao who was being attacked in
 the colonia by men and women, armed with clubs and stones.... He the
 deponent seeing that Simao was being sacrificed by the colonos,
 ordered his employee named Joao Ignacio to the aid of the victim, and
 he immediately took Simao out of the power of the aggressors. The
 deponent seeing that the colonos still pursued Simao went to the
 colonia, finding Simao [and] bringing him to his house, where he
 stayed until the police arrived. (74)

The success of such attempts to define segregated spaces was limited because fazendeiros and other elites did not support them. Even so, the intimidating power of crowds of irate immigrants would have been sufficient to caution black strangers about walking carelessly through the colonias, which became increasingly white as the number of immigrants grew.

In yet another case of group violence, in 1909, at least three Italians attacked a black man after he was stabbed several times by another Italian. (75) Domingos Romualdo was coming from the train station carrying a basket of oranges on his back when an Italian stopped him and asked to buy the oranges. Domingos replied that he could not sell them because they were not his, which led to an exchange of insults. Then the Italian knocked Domingos down and stabbed him several times in the buttocks and legs. At this point two Italian men and at least one woman left a nearby venda to join in, punching and kicking Domingos. If the initial assailant was responding to something Domingos did (refuse to sell the oranges), the other Italians had no reason for attacking him aside from the joy of beating a black man as he lay bloodied on the street.

There are not enough of these cases to draw firm conclusions, but they do suggest that, after about 1900, Italian attitudes toward blacks and other dark skinned Brazilians were becoming less conditional on their behavior and more an automatic response to skin color. Although I have found no evidence that Italians blamed Afro-Brazilians for declining wages, blacks did symbolize everything that Italians feared becoming, and their refusal to accept subordination to Italians would have become even more annoying as Italians saw their own position deteriorate.


In some cases, friendship, love, or kinship undoubtedly inhibited overt expressions of racism. In the absence of a rigid, state-backed caste system, and given the relative incapacity of the Italian "community" to enforce racial discipline on members--due largely to regional divisions and a high degree of geographic mobility--, individual relationships often crossed color lines and could involve genuine affection as well as symbolic tensions. The high ratio of men to women among Italian immigrants, in particular, meant that, if they stayed in Brazil, the only marriage partners available for many Italian men were Brazilians, many, if not most, of whom had dark skin.

It is not difficult to find examples of interracial solidarity. In the fazenda barn dance described at the beginning of this article, Italian colonos quickly acted to isolate the pistol wielding Antonio Lariago and protect the black man he was trying to intimidate. Although he did not intervene, the Italian carter who had filled in the well with Claudio Cherubino de Sousa demonstrated considerable sympathy for Claudio's plight and none for the Italian barber and Syrian peddler who attacked him. Interracial solidarity could sometimes extend to acts of violence against members of one's own group. In mid 1895, after a fight between an Italian and a young black well digger outside the Italian's venda in the town of Sao Carlos, the Italian set out to take revenge, accompanied by a black boarder of his named Felizardo Arruda. (76) Finding the well digger on another street, Felizardo clubbed him over the head several times. In 1898, an Italian widow defended her mulatta neighbor against an attempt to collect a late rent payment by throwing a brick at the Italian rent collector employed by the owner of the house, an Italian priest who was a relative of her deceased husband. (77)

But it is important not to exaggerate the significance of interracial love and friendship. Italian men often resisted formalizing their unions with nonwhite women through marriage, and Italian parents reacted with outrage when their daughters fell in love with black men. (78) Although enduring friendships between individual immigrants and blacks did exist, solidarity seems to have been limited by Italian fears of equality with nonwhites.

Outcomes in the justice system

At several points in the above analysis, I mentioned evidence that local elites generally did not support Italian violence against the dark skinned. More systematic evidence can be found in the conviction rates for those accused of interethnic or interracial violence. Police delegates, prosecutors, judges and jurors were members of the local elite or middle class.

Table 3, which includes cases not brought to trial because of judicial or police decisions to drop charges, presents the percentage convicted for the various combinations of race and nationality of accused and victim. The denominators here do not equal the frequencies in table 2 because that table refers to victims, whereas table 3 concerns the accused. Among Italians accused of assaulting or killing Afro-Brazilians, 21.7% were convicted, which is almost twice the conviction rate for the relatively few people of color accused of violence against Italians. (79) These results are probably distorted by a form of selection bias: the relatively high conviction rates in all cases of violence against Afro-Brazilians suggest that this violence was more severe, on average, than that suffered by members of other groups. In other words, it appears that authorities tended not to take seriously cases of lesser violence against blacks and mulattos, causing pain or humiliation but not serious injury, which resulted in underreporting of such violence. Conviction rates for those accused of attacking Afro-Brazilians would thus be higher because they were only accused in the more serious cases. (80) The anonymous participants in group violence are also absent from this table. If it were possible to include them, the proportion of unpunished Italian attacks on Afro-Brazilians would greatly increase.

What is most important here is that the data show no tendency for police, judges and jurors to systematically favor Italians over dark skinned Brazilians. Although they were clearly racist, local elites also considered Italians a problematic group. On Christmas day, 1895, the overworked police delegate of Sao Carlos wrote to the state Police Chief:
 The agglomeration of individuals of different nationalities, the
 arrival of many others who, trying to hide from the just pursuit of
 the police in other places, establish their residence here, even if
 provisionally, create for the police of this jurisdiction maximum
 difficulties.... The Italian colony of this city is very numerous and
 it is precisely what most attracts the attention of the police. (81)

The evidence presented above also suggests that local elites considered many of the Italian attacks on Afro-Brazilians to be unwarranted, which probably counterbalanced the prejudice of authorities and jurors against blacks and mulattos. The statistical results suggest that white Brazilians did enjoy special consideration in the justice system, because very few of them were punished for attacking Italians or other immigrants. This probably reflects the impunity of fazendeiros and their administrators, as well as that of the police.


Although criminal records provide evidence of cooperation, friendship and intimacy between immigrants and nonwhite Brazilians, the threat of violence also permeated and shaped their relations. This was not a new phenomenon in Brazil, as Maria Sylvia de Carvalho Franco's work on the pre-abolition free population makes clear, and it was not uniquely Brazilian, as Norbert Elias demonstrated in his writings on the "civilizing process" in Europe. (82) The Sao Carlos criminal records show that the risk of violent conflict suffused everyday relations within as well as between ethnic and racial groups. What was different about relations between Italians and people of color was less the frequency of violence than the nature of the situations, attitudes and interactions that generated it and its imbalance, with Italians attacking Afro-Brazilians much more often than vice versa.

Fights between Italian immigrants and black or brown Brazilians occurred primarily for symbolic reasons. The central issue was whether Italians would take precedence over Afro-Brazilians or whether people of all colors would be treated with equal respect and dignity. For every such clash registered in police investigations, there must have been others that came to blows but produced no record because they were not reported or did not result in serious wounds, and many others that stopped short of physical violence because one side backed down. One of the most important consequences of the violence examined here was an atmosphere of intimidation, in which Italians and other whites tried to impose their wills on blacks and mulattos through implicit or explicit threats of physical violence. Over time, attitudes seem to have hardened. If racial violence by Italians in the early years was largely spontaneous and situational, dependent on nonwhite demeanor, some of the later attacks suggest generalized hatred of blacks and mulattos.

Italians were not alone in their tendency to lord it over the dark skinned. The Italian tendency for "excess violence" against nonwhites corresponded to similar tendencies among white Brazilians and other immigrants, which suggests that Italians learned from white Brazilians that pretos and other people of color could be threatened, attacked or killed to keep them in their place if they refused to defer to whites. Other Europeans, who began arriving in large numbers after Italy banned subsidized emigration to Brazil in 1902, probably learned to despise blacks largely from Italians.

As for pretos and other dark skinned Brazilians, they tried to protect them-salves as well as they could. This often meant strengthening patron-client ties with fazendeiros or urban elites, using one form of subordination to ward off another. For the vigorous, or just angry, another form of protection that beckoned was to make one's self feared, serving as a plantation capanga [hired thug] or a police "soldier." (83) The use of black and mulatto capangas by fazendeiros and the presence of these categories on the police force probably intensified Italian aversion to the dark skinned. Certainly an individual such as Braulio Borges de Carvalho, a moreno who went around impersonating a police delegate in order to rob Italians, earned their animosity, (84) However, the criminal records of Silo Carlos provide little evidence that Italians identified all Afro-Brazilians with planter or state repression. The individuals who wielded violence against immigrants on behalf of the powerful--or on behalf of themselves, in the case of the rather unruly police force--were men of all colors, and they were almost always led by white Brazilians. In addition, blacks, like Italians, were favorite targets of repression on both plantations and city streets.

This article also bypasses conflict between Afro-Brazilian or Italian subgroups. in a few cases, police and court records do provide evidence of tensions between blacks and mulattos or between northern and southern Italians, but the great majority of intra-group violence appears to have been motivated by more purely individual conflicts. Conflict between Italians and Afro-Brazilians was much more severe and overt than that between subgroups on either side.

The lack of white unity

As much as immigrants may have wanted racial preference and segregation, these never became state policy in post-abolition Sao Paulo or elsewhere in Brazil. Racism instead operated informally. I suspect that this was due largely to lack of elite interest, despite obvious racism, in privileging poor whites. Elites only occasionally supported Italians in their struggle to keep Afro-Brazilians down because they were equally concerned about controlling Italians and other immigrants. Abolition had eliminated the threat of slave rebellion, and black collective action became increasingly difficult as former plantation slaves scattered and became diluted among the rapidly growing European population. In the state of Sao Paulo, the fear of black violence receded and was replaced, among planters and other elites, by fear of immigrant unruliness, violence, sabotage and strikes.

Local elites also did not need the support of poor whites, and much less that of foreigners, to maintain their political and economic power. The great majority of poor Brazilian whites were disenfranchised, as were most immigrants, who usually did not naturalize. Instead of competing for the support of poor whites, local power brokers, known as "colonels" (because many were officers in the National Guard), relied on varying mixtures of family ties, clientelism, fraud, and violence to maintain their positions as mediators between local and state governments. (85) The lack of elite support can also explain why organized racial terrorism did not emerge in Sao Paulo and almost all racial aggression by immigrants was spontaneous, in the forms of name-calling, intimidation and interpersonal violence, with occasional outbursts of collective violence. (86)

Given that interracial conflict and violence generally did not take the dramatic forms it took elsewhere, historians who compare the trajectories of immigrants and Afro-Brazilians in Sao Paulo after abolition have tended to ignore day-to-day relations between them. The threat of violence by immigrants and other whites could have important consequences for the opportunities available to blacks and mulattos, because it punished qualities important to success: confidence, boldness, the desire to excel, the willingness to take risks. The result, I suspect, was to limit freedom of movement and to bind blacks and browns more tightly to white patrons, which in turn limited the possibilities for collective action in defense of group interests. Squeezed between immigrants and the local elite, many Afro-Brazilians migrated from western Sao Paulo to the state capital, but even there they met with everyday intimidation and limits imposed by the immigrant majority.

Programa de Pos-Graduacao em Historia

Sao Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul



E-mail: I am grateful to George Reid Andrews for helpful comments, to Oswaldo Truzzi and Maria Silvia Bassanezi for helping me locate demographic data, and to the director and staff of the Fundacao Pro-Memoria de Sao Carlos for their assistance. An earlier version was presented at the XXIV Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Dallas, 2003. Funding was provided by the Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo--FAPESP, the Conselho Nacional de Desen-volvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico--CNPQ (Brazilian government organ for scientific and technological development), and the Programa Brasil Latino of the Cassamarca Foundation. Most of the criminal records discussed were partially transcribed by Lania Stefanoni Ferreira and Virginia Ferreira da Silva, undergraduate research assistants with CNPQ (PIBIC) scholarships. Some were transcribed by Simone Medeiros, Carolina Albuquerque da Silva, Andrea Vettorassi, and Thiago Augusto Soares.

1. In Sao Paulo, colono usually referred to those working on coffee plantations under annual contracts.

2. Fundacao Pro-Memoria, Sao Carlos (hereinafter FPM), Processos Criminais, caixa 291, no number, 1891, Antonio Lariago. At the time, it was common for heterosexual men to dance together.

3. Deposition of Jorge Antonio da Silva before police delegate.

4. FPM, c. 462, n. 2691, 1893, Francisco Miguel, Francisco Cosme, Avelino Bento de Farias.

5. FPM, c. 194, n. 107, 1907, Heitor Rodrigues da Silva. Statement before police delegate.

6. Considering those of marriageable age--16 for men and 14 for women--there were 174 single Italian men in Sao Carlos for every 100 single Italian women in 1907 (FPM, Censo municipal de 1907).

7. Anton Blok, Honour and Violence (Cambridge, 2001); Norbert Elias, The Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, trans. Eric Dunning and Stephen Mennell (New York, 1996).

8. Florestan Fernandes, A integracao do negro na sociedade de classes, O legado da "raca branca," v. 1, 3 ed. (Sao Paulo, 1978).

9. Celia Maria Marinho de Azevedo, Onda negra medo branco: o negro no imaginario das elites; seculo XIX (Rio de Janeiro, 1987); Sidney Chalhoub, Visoes da liberdade: uma historia das ultimas decadas da escravidao na Corte (Sao Paulo, 1990); Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado, Crime e escravidao: trabalho, luta e resistencia nas lavouras paulistas, 1830-1888 (Sao Paulo, 1987); Maria Helena Machado, O plano e o panico: os movimentos sociais na decada da abolicao (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, 1994); Hebe Maria Mattos, Das cores do silencio: os significados da liberdade no Sudeste escravista--Brasil, seculo XIX (Rio de Janeiro, 1998); Joao Jose Reis and Eduardo Silva, Negociacao e conflito: a resistencia negra no Brasil escravista (Sao Paulo, 1989); Robert W. Slenes, Na senzala, uma flor: esperancas e recordacoes na formacao da familia escrava--Brasil Sudeste, seculo XIX (Rio de Janeiro, 1999); Regina Celia Lima Xavier, A conquista da liberdade: libertos em Campinas na segunda metade do seculo XIX (Campinas, 1996).

10. There are exceptions. In addition to the work of George Reid Andrews, discussed below, parts of Xavier, A conquista, and much of Mattos, Das cores do silencio, go beyond the 1888 barrier. Rebecca J. Scott, "Defining the Boundaries of Freedom in the World of Cane: Cuba, Brazil and Louisiana after Emancipation," The American Historical Review 99, no. 1 (Feb. 1994): 70-102, compares the condition of ex-slaves in sugar producing regions of Louisiana, Cuba and the Brazilian Northeast. For the coffee-growing paulista West, Cleber da Silva Maciel's Discriminacoes raciais: negros em Campinas (1888-1926) (Campinas, 1997) is an inventory of newspaper articles about blacks, providing little analysis, but it does demonstrate flagrant racism among white elites and raises important issues, such as black participation in the police, that other researchers could pursue. Ana Maria Rios and Hebe Maria Mattos, "O pos-abolicao como problema historico: balancos e perspectivas," Topoi 5, no. 8 (jan.-junho 2004): 170-198, provide a useful discussion of some recent work focused on the Paraiba River valley in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

11. Jose Murilo de Carvalho, Os Bestializados: O Rio de Janeiro e a Republica que nao foi (Sao Paulo, 1987); Marcia Regina Capelari Naxara, Estrangeiro em sua propria terra: representacoes do brasileiro, 1870/1920 (Sao Paulo, 1998); Maria Inez Machado Borges Pinto, Cotidiano e sobrevivencia: a vida do trabalhador pobre na cidade de Sao Paulo (1890-1914) (Sao Paulo, 1994).

12. Sidney Chalhoub, Trabalho, lar e botequim: o cotidiano dos trabalhadores no Rio de Janeiro da Belle Epoque (Sao Paulo, 1986); Martha de Abreu Esteves, Meninas perdidas: os populares e o cotidiano do amor no Rio de Janeiro da Belle Epoque (Rio de Janeiro, 1989); Boris Fausto, Crime e cotidiano: a criminalidade em Sao Paulo (1880-1924), 2 ed. (Sao Paulo, 2001); Carlos Antonio Ribeiro, Cor e criminalidade: estudo e analise da justica no Rio de Janeiro (1900-1930) (Rio de Janeiro, 1995).

13. Zuleika M. F. Alvim, Brava gente! os italianos em Sao Paulo, 1870-1920 (Sao Paulo, 1986); Warren Dean, Rio Claro: A Brazilian Plantation System, 1820-1920 (Stanford, Calif., 1976); Boris Fausto, ed., Fazer a America: a imigracao em massa para a America Latina (Sao Paulo, 1999); Mauricio Font, Coffee, Contention, and Change in the Making of Modem Brazil (Cambridge, 1990); Michael McDonald Hall, "The Origins of Mass Immigration in Brazil, 1871-1914" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1969); Thomas H. Holloway, Immigrants on the Land: Coffee and Society in Sao Paulo, 1886-1934 (Chapel Hill, 1980); Herbert S. Klein, A imigracao espanhola no Brasil (Sao Paulo, 1994); Pierre Monbeig, Pioneiros e fazendeiros de Sao Paulo, 2 ed. (Sao Paulo, 1998); Verena Stolcke, Coffee Planters, Workers and Wives: Class Conflict and Gender Relations on Sao Paulo Plantations, 1850-1980 (New York, 1988); Angelo Trento, Do outro lado do Atlantico: urn seculo de imigracao italiana no Brasil, trans. Maria Rosaria Fabris and Luiz Eduardo de Lima Brandao (Sao Paulo, 1989); Oswaldo Truzzi and Maria Teresa Miceli Kerbauy, "Mobilidade e politica: consideracoes sobre a participacao de imigrantes e seus descendentes em cidades medias do interior paulista," Teoria e Pesquisa 32-35 (Jan.-Dec. 2000): 157-79; Chiara Vangelista, Le braccia per la fazenda: immigrati e "caipiras" nella formazione del mercato del lavoro paulista (1850-1930) (Milan, 1982).

14. George Reid Andrews, Blacks and Whites in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1888-1988 (Madison, WI, 1991).

15. See also Paula Beiguelman, A formacao do povo no complexo cafeeiro: aspectos politicos, 2 ed. (Sao Paulo, 1978); Robert W. Slenes, "Senhores e subalternos no Oeste Paulista," in Historia da vida privada no Brasil 2, Imperio: a Corte e a modernidade nacional, ed. Luiz Felipe Alencastro (Sao Paulo, 1997), 233-90; Vangelista, Le Braccia.

16. Maria Silvia C. Beozzo Bassanezi, ed. Sao Paulo do Passado, vol. IV, Dados demograficos 1886 (Campinas, 1999), pp. 40, 54, 92. Although pardo today designates those with brown skin, Mattos, Das cores do silencio, presents evidence that prior to abolition it indexed free status, designating freeborn blacks, as well as slaves and ex-slaves partially descended from whites, hence having some "free blood." Preto, on the other hand, was reserved for black slaves and libertos.

17. FPM, Censo Municipal de 1907. The use of the term mulato rather than pardo in this census suggests that, 19 years after abolition, predominant racial categories referred to skin color and other phenotypical characteristics. By 1907, freeborn versus ex-captive status made little sense as a form of distinction among nonwhites. Further evidence that the 1907 racial categories were based primarily on skin color can be found in the disappearance of the category caboclo from this census. Many caboclos must have been classified as mulattoes, and some as whites or blacks, depending on skin tone.

18. Club da Lavoura de Sao Carlos, "Estatistica agricola do municipio de S. Carlos Do Pinhal organisada pelo Club da Lavoura, 1899," Revista do Instituto do Cafe do Estado de Sao Paulo 15, no. 161 (julho 1940): 1017-28.

19. Nelson Senra, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica, personal communication.

20. Despite its focus on older plantation areas, Mattos, Das cores do silencio, provides important clues regarding the social origins of black and mulatto families that became colonos or empreiteiros. She emphasizes attempts by 19th century slaves to form stable families, gain customary rights to land and maximize their autonomy, all of which were more feasible for those who remained in one area for many years. Fazendas in western Sao Paulo were newer, but Robert Slenes, Na senzala, uma flor, demonstrates that the aspirations of captives there were similar to those Mattos describes, and that many did succeed in forming families, living separately from other slaves, and gaining rights to farm plots. Many of the Afro-Brazilian colonos of Sao Carlos probably had roots in either these established slave families or the freeborn black population. Some had undoubtedly migrated from other areas in search of better opportunities. On internal migration and the employment of Brazilian colonos in the final years of slavery, see Denise A. Soares de Moura, Saindo das sombras: homens livres no declinio do escravismo (Campinas, 1998), 153-182.

21. FPM, c. 257, n. 25, Alberto Jose de Castro, 1895.

22. Sao Carlos data reprinted in Oswaldo Mario Serra Truzzi, ed., Fontes estatistico-nominativas da propriedade rural em Sao Carlos (Sao Carlos, 2004). Excluding ambiguous matches, 6% of these black and mulatto lavradores and 15% of immigrant lavradores were identified as landowners in the 1904-5 agrarian census. The great majority of immigrant properties were smaller than 50 paulista alqueires (121 hectares), but a few had large fazendas. Two mulatto landowners had mid-sized plantations: Francisco Antonio Borges had 275 alqueires (666 hectares) and 210,000 coffee bushes, employing 43 immigrants and 20 Brazilians; the merchant Argeu Vinhas had 69 alqueires (167 hectares) in two separate properties with a total of 53,000 coffee bushes worked by 32 foreigners. Vinhas also married an Italian and served as police delegate of Sao Carlos in 1902 (FPM, Censo Municipal de 1907, vol. 7, p. 12. FPM, c. 462, n. 2635, 1902).

23. Alvim, Brava gente!; Joaquim da Costa Leite, "O Brasil e a emigracao portuguesa (1855-1914)," in Fazer a America, ed. Boris Fausto; Joel Serrao, A emigracao portuguesa: sondagem historica, 4 Ed. (Lisboa, 1982), 119-27.

24. FPM, c. 462, no number, inquiry into the death of Giorgio Mascaro; Fanfulla, 2 July 1895; A Opiniao, 12 July 1898.

25. Arquivo do Estado de Sao Paulo (AESP), Policia, various boxes, 1894-1902.

26. In several cases, it was possible to correct racial information by identifying accused or victim in the 1907 census. The "Afro-Brazilian" category also includes some individuals identified as "probably nonwhite" due to birth in the Northeast or the absence of surnames in the criminal records.

27. Donald Black, "Crime as Social Control," American Sociological Review 48, no. 1 (February 1983): 34-45; Fausto, Crime e cotidiano; Roger V. Gould, Collision of Wills: How Ambiguity about Social Rank Breeds Conflict (Chicago, 2003).

28. It may seem surprising that the table includes more fights between white Brazilians and blacks than between Italians and blacks. In addition to the effect of the weighting scheme, discussed above, this is probably due to three factors. First, some of the "white Brazilians" were actually blacks or mulattos whose color was not identified in the records. Second, much of the white-black violence involved either fazenda authorities or the police, who were usually white Brazilians. Third, rural violence was clearly under-reported, and Italians were disproportionately concentrated in the countryside.

29. Several scholars have successfully used criminal court records to study the everyday lives of Brazilian slaves, including Chalhoub, Visoes da liberdade; Machado, Crime e escravidao; Mattos, Das cores do silencio; Maria Cristina Cortez Wissenbach, Sonhos africanos, vivencias ladinas: escravos eforros em Sao Paulo (1850-1880) (Sao Paulo, 1998). Chalhoub, Trabalho, lar e botequim, used these sources to study plebeian life in post-abolition Rio de Janeiro, including relations between blacks and Portuguese immigrants, and Fausto, Crime e cotidiano, used them to compare the criminality of various groups in the city of Sao Paulo during the period of mass immigration.

30. Mariza Correa, Morte em familia: representacoes juridicas de papeis sexuais (Rio de Janeiro, 1983) and Boris Fausto Fausto, Crime e cotidiano, both provide useful discussions of the nature of Brazilian criminal court records as sources for social research.

31. Harold Garfinkel, "What is Ethnomethodology?" in Studies in Ethnomethodology (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967), 1-34; Terri L. Orbuch, "People's Accounts Count: The Sociology of Accounts," Annual Review of Sociology 23 (1997): 455-78.

32. For a discussion of methods for systematic comparison of the varying stories told in police investigations and in court, see Karl Monsma, "Historias de violencia: inqueritos policiais e processos criminais como fontes para o estudo de relacoes interetnicas," in Estudos migratorios: perspectivas metodologicas, ed. Zeila de Brito Fabri Dematrini and Oswaldo Truzzi (Sao Carlos, 2005), 159-221.

33. FPM, c. 286, n. 37, 1895, Anastacio Cosme.

34. Pierre Bourdieu, "Espace social et pouvoir symbolique," in Pierre Bourdieu, Choses dites (Paris, 1987). Pierre Bourdieu, Meditations pascaliennes, 2 ed. (Paris, 2003), 263-271.

35. Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Retrato em branco e negro: jornais, escravos e cidadaos em Sao Paulo no final do seculo XIX (Sao Paulo, 1987).

36. FPM, c. 271, n. 1562, 1898, Vicenzo Maggiorino.

37. Police and judicial clerks commonly translated foreign names to their Portuguese equivalents.

38. Deposition to Police Delegate Manoel Thiago Correa Masagao.

39. FPM, c.. 279, n. 260, 1900, Thomaz Rizzo and Pedro Alexandre.

40. Immigrants from the Turkish empire were referred to (by others) as turcos (Turks).

41. Deposition of Pasquale Maritelli during police investigation.

42. James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, 1985). For a critical evaluation of Scott's work, cf. Karl Monsma, "James C. Scott e a resistencia cotidiana no campo: uma avaliacao critica," BIB--Revista Brasileira de Informacao Bibliografica em Ciencias Sociais 49 (1[degrees] semestre 2000): 95-121.

43. James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, Conn., 1990).

44. Cf. Azevedo, Onda negra medo branco; Schwarcz, Retrato em branco e negro; Giralda Seyferth, "Construindo a nacao: hierarquias raciais e o papel do racismo na politica de imigracao e colonizacao," in Raca, ciencia e sociedade, ed. Marcos Chor Maio and Ricardo Ventura (Rio de Janeiro, 1996), 41-65; Thomas E. Skidmore, Black Into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought (Durham, 1993).

45. Racial stereotypes in the Italian-language press show that the elite of the colony did assimilate the racial ideology of the Brazilian elite. Dean, Rio Claro, 183; Holloway, Immigrants on the Land, 106. Poor immigrants sometimes read Italian or Portuguese-language newspapers in vendas, and illiterates could listen when others read them aloud. Over time, published material probably helped immigrants organize their racial ideas, but it was not the primary impetus behind racist attacks.

46. Karl Monsma and Simone Medeiros, "Classe, etnia e violencia nas fazendas de cafe do Oeste Paulista, 1888-1914," in Agricultura latino-americana: novos arranjos e velhas questoes, ed. Anita Brumer and Diego Pineiro (Porto Alegre, 2005), 163-84.

47. Complaints by foreign consuls regarding police mistreatment of their nationals rival complaints about plantation abuses (Arquivo do Estado de Sao Paulo, Policia, various boxes, 1894-1902). On conflict between Italians and the police in Sao Carlos, cf. Karl Monsma, Oswaldo Truzzi, and Silvano da Conceicao, "Solidariedade etnica, poder local e banditismo: uma quadrilha calabresa no Oeste Paulista, 1895-1898," Revista Brasileira de Ciencias Sociais 18, no. 53 (outubro 2003): 71-96.

48. Herbert Blumer, "Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position," The Pacific Sociological Review 1, no. 1 (Spring 1958), 3-7.

49. On symbolic capital, see Bourdieu, Meditations pascaliennes, 344-351.

50. FPM, c. 214, n. 135, 1906, Jose Marfatano and Jose Vieira.

51. Deposition of "Guilherme" Domenico before judge.

52. Statement of Victor Rossi in police investigation.

53. FPM, c. 256, n. 27, 1897, Domenico Albachiara and Cuneo Albachiara.

54. Deposition before the judge.

55. FPM, c. 214, n. 138, 1892, Giuseppe Mirabelli.

56. FPM, c. 464, no number, 1901, Saverio Guzzi.

57. Deposition of Ramiro de Mattos Terra before police delegate.

58. Deposition of Luiza Maria da Conceicao before judge

59. Guzzi fled and was not captured.

60. FPM, c. 310, n. 435, 1912, "Joao" de Rienzo.

61. FPM, c. 276, n. 6432, 1913, Luigi Calegari.

62. FPM, c. 262, n. 1403, 1894; Delegado de Sao Carlos to chefe de Policia (telegram), 17 December 1895, Arquivo do Estado de Sao Paulo, Policia, Lata CO2804.

63. Monsma and Medeiros, "Classe, etnia e violencia nas fazendas de cafe do Oeste Paulista" examines the role of violence in relations between coffee planters and immigrant workers.

64. FPM, c. 262, no number, 1894, Luiz Leme, Giuseppe Leme, Fernando Leme, Domingos de Credico, Domingos Paiaroni, Giuseppe Paiaroni.

65. Jose de Almeida Mattos and Olympio Bueno Monteiro, depositions during police investigation.

66. Deposition of Antonio Augusto de Oliveira during police investigation.

67. Desposition of Antonio Augusto de Oliveira during police investigation.

68. Giuseppe Leme escaped and was never arrested. In the first trial, Domenico de Credico was sentenced to 15 years of jail with labor and the others to ten and a half years. On appeal, Giuseppe and Domenico Paiaroni were acquitted because it was not clear that they had participated in the murder, but the sentences of the others were increased to 15 years with labor for Fernando and Luigi Leme and 24 years with labor for Domenico de Credico. A few weeks after Narciso's murder, Antonio Augusto de Oliveira would himself die in a fight with a black worker at the plantation where he worked as a teacher (FPM, c. 265, n. 454, 1894, Jose Francisco). In December, 1895, Domenico de Credico escaped from the Sao Carlos jail (Telegram, delegado de Sao Carlos to chefe de Policia, December 17, 1895, AESP, Policia 1895, Lata 2804). It is not clear if he was ever recaptured.

69. FPM, c.309, n. 3797/1310, 1904.

70. Deposition before police delegate.

71. Hall, "The Origins of Mass Immigration," 186; Holloway, Immigrants on the Land, 177.

72. FPM, c. 289, n. 11, 1904, Bernardo Bartolomeu, Donato Sotomano, Rocco di Grosso, Antonio Calesimo, Simao Joaquim de Assis.

73. Deposition of Manoel da Silva Ferreira during police investigation.

74. Deposition of Joao Albano da Silva Barros during police investigation.

75. FPM, c. 234, n.122, 1909, Nicola Galhardi, Francisco Faroni, Nicola Montesante, Paschoalina Schoque.

76. FPM, c. 298, n. 28, 1895, Felizardo Ferreira de Arruda and Salvatore Galena.

77. FPM, c. 279, n.259, 1898, Thomaz Giampa

78. Karl Monsma, Oswaldo Truzzi and Silvia Keller Villas Boas, "Entre la pasion y la familia: casamientos interetnicos de jovenes italianos en el oeste paulista, 1889-1916." Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos 18, no.54 (agosto 2004), 241-70.

79. These data exclude violence attributed to a Calabrian bandit gang active in the municipio between 1895 and 1898 because the primary motive of the bandits' actions was robbery (cf. Monsma, Truzzi, and Conceicao, "Solidariedade etnica, poder local e banditismo"). Including gang members in this table would increase the percentages of Italians convicted.

80. If we consider only nonlethal violence, conviction rates for Italians accused of attacking blacks or mulattos (18.4%) are more nearly equal to those for Afro-Brazilians accused of violence against Italians (12.5%). The two nonwhites accused of killing an Italian were not convicted, and 6 (27%) of the 22 Italians accused of killing blacks or mulattos were convicted.

81. Delegado de Sao Carlos to chefe de Policia, 25 December 1895, AESP, Policia, CO2803.

82. Maria Sylvia de Carvalho Franco, Homens livres na ordem escravocrata (Sao Paulo, 1974); Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners and State Formation and Civilization, 1939, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Oxford, 1994); Elias, The Germans.

83. Four of the 25 police "soldiers" stationed in Sao Carlos in 1907 were black and one was mulatto (FPM, censo municipal de 1907).

84. FPM, c. 275, n. 4097, 1905.

85. Victor Nunes Leal, Coronelismo, enxada e voto: o municipio e o regime representativo no Brasil, 3 ed. (Rio de Janeiro, 1997 [1948]); Jose Murilo de Carvalho, "Mandonismo, coronelismo, clientelismo: uma discussao conceitual," Dados 40, no. 2 (1997), 229-249. In contrast, both the Democratic Party of the US South and Afrikaner nationalists in South Africa competed for the votes of poor and working class whites by supporting the institutionalization of white privilege. Cf. Anthony W. Marx, Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of South Africa, the United States, and Brazil (Cambridge, 1998).

86. The tolerance and participation of local elites and authorities, including the police, is central to most analyses of lynching in the US South, e.g., Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940 (New York, 1998), 199-239; Stewart E. Tolnay and E. M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 (Urbana, IL, 1995). A couple of the events discussed above could be considered near lynchings, but they occurred in the absence of authorities, not with their participation. Available sources relate one clear case of racial lynching in Sao Carlos. A month and a half after abolition, a crowd of about 400 seized a black man, accused of raping a white woman, from the municipal jail, killed him, and strung up his body on a tree in the central plaza. The annual report of the state police chief stated that "the population of the city" carried out the lynching. "Factos Notaveis, Sao Carlos do Pinhal," Relatorio apresentado ao Illmo e Ex Snr. Dr Pedro Vicente de Azevedo Presidente da Provincia de Sao Paulo pelo Desembargador Ernesto Julio Bandeira de Mello, Chefe de Policia no dia 7 de janeiro de 1889 (Sao Paulo, 1889).

By Karl Monsma

Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos
Table 1 Occupational distribution of male heads of households in Sao
Carlos, 1907, by race and nationality (in percentages)

Occupation black mulatto white

1. Rural
"Agriculturalist" (lavrador) 7.5% 9.6% 27.7%
Fazenda administration* 0.6 1.8 6.9
Empreiteiro 0.8 1.8 1.3
Colono 43.5 31.3 21.8
Rural laborer (camarada) 26.1 27.1 8.8
Other rural 3.8 4.2 1.6

2. Urban and mixed rural-urban
Merchant/profess. **/civil servant 0.5 1.2 11.0
Artisan/skilled worker 6.1 13.3 7.0
Carter/coachman 5.8 1.8 2.1
Other manual worker 3.0 6.0 7.4
Other urban employee 2.4 1.8 4.4
Totals*** 100 100 100
Number of individuals 637 166 1117

Occupation Ital. Port. Span. others

1. Rural
"Agriculturalist" (lavrador) 5.4% 10.1% 4.1% 6.7%
Fazenda administration* 0.7 2.1 1.2 1.1
Empreiteiro 0.5 1.6 0.0 0.6
Colono 66.4 44.7 72.4 43.3
Rural laborer (camarada) 5.2 8.3 5.3 5.6
Other rural 0.8 1.6 0.2 3.4

2. Urban and mixed rural-urban
Merchant/profess. **/civil servant 5.4 7.8 4.4 22.5
Artisan/skilled worker 10.5 7.8 6.5 14.6
Carter/coachman 2.2 2.1 1.0 0.6
Other manual worker 1.9 10.3 4.6 1.7
Other urban employee 0.9 3.7 0.2 0.0
Totals*** 100 100 100 100
Number of individuals 3255 515 413 178

Source: Censo municipal de 1907, Fundacao Pro-Memoria de Sao Carlos.
*Includes administrators, assistant administrators, directors of colonos
and foremen.
**Includes all those doing primarily mental work.
***Do not necessarily sum to exactly 100 due to rounding.

Table 2 Race or ethnicity of accused and victim in cases of homicide,
injury, and attempted violence, Sao Carlos, 1889-1914 (frequencies)

Accused Afro-Braz. White Braz. Italian Other immig. Totals

Afro-Brazilian 97 32 17 12 158
White Brazilian 67 81 28 26 202
Italian 51 43 182 36 312
Other immigrant 32 15 22 48 117
Totals 247 171 249 122 789

Source: Sao Carlos police investigations and criminal trial records,
Fundacao Pro-Memoria, Sao Carlos.
Notes: Table excludes cases involving caboclos and cases of sexual
assault (difficult to distinguish from consensual sex because both were
classified as "defloration"). Cases with multiple accused or victims
weighted to equal the number of victims. Children of immigrants
classified by parents' nationality.

Table 3 Final outcome (including appeals) in cases of physical violence,
by ethnicity or race of accused and victim, Sao Carlos, 1889-1914

Victim Afro-Braz. White Braz. Italian Other immigrant

 charges dropped 13.0% 7.2% 11.7% 19.4%
 acquitted 63.0 68.1 66.7 63.9
 convicted 24.0 24.6 21.7 16.7
 total (n) 100 (100) 100 (69) 100 (60) 100 (36)
White Brazilian
 charges dropped 16.7% 16.0% 30.4% 0.0%
 acquitted 56.7 72.8 58.7 80.0
 convicted 26.7 11.1 10.9 20.0
 total (n) 100 (30) 100 (81) 100 (46) 100 (15)
 charges dropped 27.8% 18.8% 22.8% 13.0%
 acquitted 61.1 78.1 58.3 82.6
 convicted 11.1 3.1 18.9 4.3
 total (n) 100 (18) 100 (32) 100 (180) 100 (23)
Other in, migrant
 charges dropped 41.7% 37.5% 2.8% 22.2%
 acquitted 50.0 58.3 72.2 68.9
 convicted 8.3 4.2 25.0 8.9
 total (n) 100 (12) 100 (24) 100 (36) 100 (45)

N=807. Totals do not necessarily add to exactly 100 due to rounding.
Source: Sao Carlos police and court records, 1889-1914, Fundacao
Pro-Memoria, Sao Carlos.
Notes: Cases with multiple accused or victims are weighted to equal
number of the accused. Excludes sexual assault, cases involving caboclos
and events attributed to the Mangano bandit gang. Excludes unidentified
aggressors and those who either fled or died before trial.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Monsma, Karl
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Jun 22, 2006
Previous Article:Ritual, community and war: local flag presentation ceremonies and disunity in the early Confederacy.
Next Article:Illegitimacy and family formation in colonial Cape Town, to c. 1850.

Related Articles
Freedoms Given, Freedoms Won: Afro-Brazilians in Post-Abolition, Sao Paulo and Salvador.
Revisiting World War I draws new interest. (Bookshelf).
Genetic homogeneity of measles viruses associated with a measles outbreak, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1997. (Research).
Decentralizing education: a successful experience in the Brazilian Amazon.
Velvet ropes: ultra-chic boutique hotels give the big guys a run for their money.
American Battlefields Of World War I Chateau-Thierry - Then and Now Vol. 1: Enter the Yanks.
Swift killer strikes Florida's groves.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |