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Reading: The Railways as a Character: Representations of Conviviality in Brazilian Literature


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Research Article

The Railways as a Character: Representations of Conviviality in Brazilian Literature


Luciane Scarato

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, BR
About Luciane
Luciane Scarato has been awarded a Holland Visiting Fellowship at the Durham Residential Research Library, Durham University. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean (Mecila). She read History at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, holds an MPhil in Cultural History from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (2006) and a doctoral degree from the University of Cambridge (2017). Her two latest publications are Scarato, L., Baldria, F., and Manzi, M. (Convivial constellations in Latin America from colonial to Contemporary Times. New York: Routledge, 2020 and ‘The Portuguese Language in Brazil: multiple peoples, multiple forms.’ In: Diadorim, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 21, Especial, 2019, pp. 200-226. Her research interests include Atlantic History, colonial Brazil, cartography, material culture, Latin American Studies, and Iberian modern empires.
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Stemming from the early railway system in Brazil, this article builds on conviviality in Latin America. Scholarship traditionally looks at railroads to analyse economy, architecture, and labour. However, the extent to which railroads changed everyday interactions within the smallest contexts remains overlooked. To fill in this gap, it draws from novels, plays, and short stories written between the late-nineteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth century. This timeframe corresponds to the “railway boom” in Brazil and encompasses renowned authors such as Machado de Assis but also glossed over authors, as Júlia Lopes de Almeida. Literary sources such as these allow the analysis of the impact that trains had on the everyday that would, otherwise, remain unknown. This communication, thus, is an effort of bringing the railways and its surrounding characters, particularly the outcasts, to the forefront of Brazilian [hi]stories. The connection between railways and progress in Brazil is critical in this presentation, alongside women’s pivotal role in the convivial environments that the railway engendered. In doing so, it aims to demonstrate that the colonial discourse of civilization versus barbarism crystallised, adapted, and changed with the implementation of the railway system in such as unequal society as Brazil.
How to Cite: Scarato, L., 2021. The Railways as a Character: Representations of Conviviality in Brazilian Literature. Latin American Literary Review, 48(95). DOI:
Published on 03 Mar 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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