With almost twelve million inhabitants, São Paulo today ranks among the most populous cities in the world. Its dramatic urbanization over the course of the 20th century has defined not only the city’s history but also scholarship about the city. Long touted by many Paulistanos—the city’s residents—as exceptional within Brazil and as a model for the nation, São Paulo has over the years earned a variety of identities: at the same time that it has been praised as an immigrant city, a working city, a modern city, even an “artistic capital,” São Paulo has also been censured for its chaos, violence, and heightened income inequality. All of these labels have shaped and continue to shape interpretations of the city’s development. Because any attempt to compress the literature about a Brazilian city into a bibliography can make no attempt at comprehensiveness, what follows is an informed but selective guide. We have chosen to organize this guide according to the national periodization widely accepted by historians of Brazil and defined by the country’s political institutions: the colonial era (from the arrival of the Portuguese to independence in 1822), the empire (1822–1889), the Old Republic (1889–1930), the first Vargas era (1930–1945), the democratic era (1945–1964), the military dictatorship (1964–1985), and the New Republic (1985–). From a Jesuit mission to a frontier town, from a sleepy “academic village” to the epicenter of labor and political upheavals, from an entrepôt between coffee plantations and port to an industrial megalopolis and global city, São Paulo has rapidly transformed over the past century and a half in terms of its economy, demographics, built environment, and culture. Along with São Paulo’s skyscrapers and global clout, scholarship on the city has grown considerably in the past three decades. This is especially true within the English-speaking academy, where historians of urban Brazil have historically been more attentive to the national capital, Rio de Janeiro. In this bibliography, we include works from both Brazil and “Brazilianistas” (scholars of Brazil based outside of the country) as evidence of the productive intellectual outcome of an important transnational, public and private, professional network.
São Paulo’s four hundredth anniversary in 1954 was a landmark moment for urban analysis. It was at this time that both Bruno 1954 and Morse 1958 reinterpreted the first histories of the city, which had been grounded in turn-of-the-century regional discourse, using a language of hope and development. The outcome was what are now regarded as the “classic” works on São Paulo’s urban evolution. Since then, few historians have attempted to explain the entirety of São Paulo’s development, although several, as in the case of Andrews 1991 and Alberto 2011, have adopted an extended timeframe for a more focused social analysis and, in Alberto’s case, also a comparative analysis. In 2004, for the city’s 450th anniversary, Porta 2004 and Szmrecsányi 2004 resumed Bruno’s and Morse’s tradition through collective effort, bringing new scholarship to the historiographic forum in the form of edited volumes. The São Paulo Symposium (2013) continued in that vein, gathering together scholars from both the United States and Brazil to offer new perspectives on the city and its history as well as resources for further study. Several resource guides for researching São Paulo have been published in paper form over the last few decades, and Porta 1998 is perhaps the most comprehensive.
Alberto, Paulina L. Terms of Inclusion: Black Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
Building on Andrews 1991 and Butler 1998 (cited under the City of the Old Republic (1889–1930)), compares the development of a self-identified, politically active black intellectual community in São Paulo with its counterparts in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. By contextualizing each group within its city, explains the distinct ways in which each contributed to ideas of racial democracy and equality.
Andrews, George Reid. Blacks and Whites in São Paulo, Brazil, 1888–1998. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.
Analyzes the place of Afro-Brazilians and race in São Paulo’s post-slavery, industrializing workforce. Most notably examines industrial personnel records, among other records, to argue that extralegal racial barriers––workplace discrimination and a lack of opportunity for skill development––continued to hinder black Brazilians’ social mobility even in the changing economy.
Bruno, Ernani Silva. História e tradições da cidade de São Paulo. 3 vols. São Paulo, Brazil: Livraria José Olympio, 1954.
Written by a municipal officer, the three books mix historical data and social analysis. Despite the text’s colloquial tone, the rigorous research conducted for more than forty years by the author transformed the trilogy into a perceptive and frequently cited guide to the city’s history.
Morse, Richard. From Community to Metropolis: A Biography of São Paulo, Brazil. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1958.
Based on his 1947–1948 fieldwork, offers a long-duree analysis of the city’s development through the lens of generations of intellectuals, entrepreneurs, technocrats, and urban planners. Pays particular attention to the relation between urbanization and changing perceptions of São Paulo.
Porta, Paula, ed. Guia dos Documentos Históricos na Cidade de São Paulo, 1554–1954. São Paulo, Brazil: HUCITEC/NEPS, 1998.
This book is a research guide for the study of São Paulo City from multiple perspectives and for multiple methodologies. Includes information about archives, libraries, funds, institutions and schools that hold sources for the following topics: economics, politics, religion, culture, arts, and law.
Porta, Paula, ed. História da cidade de São Paulo. 3 vols. São Paulo, Brazil: Paz e Terra, 2004.
The interdisciplinary trilogy written by Brazil’s leading researchers is considered an essential reference for understanding the city’s past. The essays collectively span the entirety of São Paulo’s history: the first volume concentrates on the colonial period; the second volume, on the imperial period; and the third, on the 20th century.
São Paulo Symposium, University of Chicago, 2013.
Indicative of the growing interest in São Paulo within the US academy, the multidisciplinary conference marked the first time in which scholars from both Brazil and the United States gathered to examine the city and its contributions to broader theories and questions. The website features videos of presentations, among other resources.
Szmrecsányi, Tamás, ed. História Econômica da Cidade de São Paulo. São Paulo, Brazil: Livros de Valor, Editora Globo, 2004.
Published to coincide with the 450th anniversary of the foundation of São Paulo, the book, despite its title, offers a broad interpretation of the city from colonial period to 20th century. Social aspects as well as housing, environment, labor, health and education are framed as economic issues.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas