Living at the Margins
In an era of commodity export–led growth, coffee served as the engine behind the city of São Paulo’s phenomenal expansion during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The city had incredible ethnic, racial, and national diversity for the hemisphere, and São Paulo became an important Transatlantic and Southern Cone immigration node for families. To fully appreciate this diversity, São Paulo’s population cannot be reduced into black/white or immigrant/Brazilian binaries. This is not to suggest that discrimination did not exist. On the contrary, the introduction concludes by challenging economic historians to delve more deeply into lived experiences and into understanding the role of persistent prejudice and discrimination in persistent Latin American inequality and underdevelopment. Similarly, it urges cultural and social historians to consider how using New Economic History methodologies to examine working-class lives can provide insight into archival silences and help to recover embedded narratives.
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