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History and Theory, Theme Issue 53 (December 2015), 84-104

Wesleyan University 2015 ISSN: 0018-2656

DOI: 10.1111/hith.10780



This article assesses the meanings of the term historiography in Brazilian historiography
from the late nineteenth century to circa 1950, suggesting that its use plays an essential role
in the process of the disciplinarization and legitimation of history as a discipline. The global-scale comparison, taking into consideration occurrences of the term in German, Spanish,
and French, reveals that use of the term took place simultaneously worldwide. The term
historiography underwent a significant change globally, having become independent
from the modern concept of history, shifting away from the political and social dimensions of the writing of history in the nineteenth century and unfolding into a metacritical
concept. Such a process enables historians to technically distinguish at least three semantic
modulations of the term: 1. history as a living experience; 2. the writing or narration of
history; and 3. the critical study of historical narratives. Based on the Brazilian experience,
it is possible to think of the historiography category as an index of the transformations
of the modern concept of history itself between the 1870s and 1940s, a period of intense
modification of the experience and expectations of the writing of professional historical
scholarship on a global scale.
Keywords: history of historiography, Brazilian historiography, global history, professionalization, institutionalization, theory of history, conceptual history, peripheral modernity

We intend here to assess the use of the term historiografia (historiography, in

Portuguese) in the work of Brazilian historians from the late nineteenth century
to circa 1950. This time period is crucial for the institutionalization and professionalization of history in Brazil, for it is precisely when the transition from the
Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro (founded in 1838) to the university
took placethe leading institutions in terms of historical production in Brazil in
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In broad terms, it is clear that the crystallization of the use of the term historiography occurred side by side with
the development of history as a university course, which took place in Brazil
beginning in 1934, with the foundation of the University of So Paulo and subsequent establishment of the University of the Federal District (in Rio de Janeiro,
1. Acknowledgments: Valdei Araujo, Fernando Nicolazzi, Andre de Lemos Freixo, Marieta de
Moraes Ferreira, Henrique Estrada, Rebeca Gontijo, Srgio da Mata, Fbio Faversani, Paulo Iumatti,
Lcia Paschoal Guimares, Lcia Bastos Neves, and Christina Rostworowski da Costa. Ncleo
Histria da Historiografia e Modernidade (NEHM/UFOP), PRONEM/FAPEMIG, FAPEMIG,



Brazils capital at the time), in 1935. It is nevertheless worth mentioning that the
foundation of the universities did not radically change the meanings attributed
to the term, for Brazils university culture took years to fully develop: graduate
programs and research support institutions were organized only throughout the
decades of 19401980.
This article suggests that the dynamic of the term historiography in the Brazilian context may not only lead to further understanding of Brazilian historiography itself as a field of research, but also clarify the relationship with other
contemporary contexts transnationally. Recently developed technological tools
such as Google Ngram Viewer have offered a broader perspective on the issue.
The tool maps the occurrence of words in a database comprised of over eight million Google-digitized books, thereby offering an indication of how often the word
historiography was used in different languages in past centuries. Specifically
in relation to Portuguese (which was not included in the Google Ngram Viewer
database) and Spanish, this article will further rely on the number of times historiography was used in dictionaries, which occurred beginning in the nineteenth
Considering the abovementioned specifics of the Brazilian case, that is, the
diffusion of the concept of historiography during the period in which universities
and the history courses offered therein were established in the country, this article
questions whether the concept might have mediated, or even regulated, a new
experience of historical knowledge. This experience would lie within a realistic
conception of history, but would not discard the previous tradition of historical
writing in Brazil. In that sense, the term historiography would also be appropriate to define a disciplinary tradition, an important step toward legitimizing history
as an academic discipline. The expression history of historiography could thus
be used to validate contemporary practices by relating them to the writings of
great historians of the past, nevertheless marking the distance (similar to a game
of nearing to and departing2) between the moments, to then establish the distinction between history practiced at universities from that of the institutions and
individuals of the past. As will be demonstrated below, the category implies three
levels of differentiation, the first being history itself as an experience, the second,
the writing of history, and the third, study or reflection on narrated history.
As has been explained by Reinhart Koselleck, the concept of history (Geschichte) underwent definitive mutations in German beginning in the mid-eighteenth
century.3 One could be led into believing that the association between the term
historiography and the process of disciplinarization of history occurred almost
two hundred years ago in Europe, and therefore late and peripherally in Brazil.
However, according to G. Padilla, J. P. G. Pimenta, and V. L. de Araujo, concerning
the experience of time, the affirmation of the concept of history (as Geschichte)
in Latin America closely followed the German process, having occurred in the first
half of the nineteenth century, led by the political experience of independence on
2. Mark Salber Phillips. Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Great Britain,
17401820 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).
3. Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time (New York: Columbia
University Press, 2004), 33-36.



the continent, which opened the way for a new space for the experience of modernity.4 Working with the model of history as Geschichte inevitably implies having
the German standard of historical science as its premise, as well as the spread and
reuse of history as Geschichte on a global scale.
As Georg Iggers has explained in A Global History of Historiography, the mission of a global history is in fact to determine the interactions produced thanks
to the spread of the modern historiography standard and the creative adaptation
thereof.5 It is nevertheless necessary to relativize the notion of strict relations of
influence between center and periphery in modernity, thus furthering the understanding of subaltern experiences. Attention is not focused exclusively on the
creative adaptation of Western concepts of history, but on how historical experience itself undergoes substantial changes. On this matter, it is worth mentioning
that the modern experience of history was modeled by contact with the other,
whether Western and/or Eastern.
One must consider that the appropriation of Kosellecks categories in Latin
American historiographies was just a fragment of a wider debate on the nature of
the peripheral experience of modernity: in other words, how bourgeois and liberal
values spread throughout the New World. This research timeframe overlaps a period of crystallization of the idea of modernity, modernization, and industrialization in Brazilian public debate, leveraged by historical events such the abolition
of slavery (1888) and the fall of the Monarchy (1889).6 Together with these two
events, it is necessary to take into account the contribution of capital stemming
from the sale of coffee and the hypertrophy of urban centers, especially of the city
of Rio de Janeiro.7
History was probably the most important medium for the debate on modernization since the main condition for modernity is to deal with the colonial past itself
as a synonym for archaism. At this point, the modern concept of history reaches
its systemic and mature form, anchoring public opinion. The archaic heritage of
the colonial past had to be identified, studied, and defeated in order to open space
for the new outcome. It is thus possible to speak of a programmatic use of the
past, of a certain space of experiences, nevertheless marked by a highly projective
4. Cf. Guillermo Zermeo Padilla, Histria, experincia e modernidade na Amrica Ibrica,
17501850, Almanack Braziliense, no. 7 (2008), 5-46. Joo Paulo Garrido Pimenta and Valdei
Lopes de Araujo, Verbete Histria, in Lxico da histria dos conceitos polticos do Brasil, ed. Joo
Feres Jnior (Belo Horizonte: Ed UFMG, 2009). See also Javier Fernndez Sebastin, Diccionario
poltico y social del mundo iberoamericano: La era de las revoluciones, 17501850, vol. I (Madrid:
Centro de Estudios Polticos y Constitucionales, 2009).
5. Georg G. Iggers, Q. E. Wang, and Supriya Mukherjee, A Global History of Modern Historiography (Harlow, UK: Pearson Longman, 2008), 5-7.
6. See Srgio Buarque de Holandas 1936 essay Razes do Brasil [Roots of Brazil] (Notre Dame,
IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012); Antonio Candido, Formao da Literatura Brasileira
[1959] (Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro: Editora Itatiaia Limitada, 1975); Roberto Swartz, As ideias
fora do lugar, Estudos CEBRAP no. 3 (1973); English translation: Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture (London: Verso, 1992); Francisco G. Sousa, Revolta e proclamao como molduras
da histria: escrita da histria e olhares para a Repblica entre os scios do IHGB, Histria da Historiografia, 18 (2015), 213-230; and Angela Alonso, Idias em movimento: a gerao 1870 na crise
do Brasil-Imprio (So Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2002).
7. Nicolau Sevcenko, Literatura Como Misso: Tenses Sociais e Criao Cultural Na Primeira
Repblica (So Paulo: Brasiliense, 1983).



horizon of expectations on Brazil.8 In addition to the heated press debate in which

such discussions are shaped and therefore become tangible, there is a given type
of social essay, a hybrid form that blends politics, aesthetics, and social sciences
that is not only typical of Brazil, but is in clear dialogue with the Latin American
thought of the period.9

The assessment enabled by the Google tool within a wide historical time frame
(from 1700 to 2008) shows a worldwide simultaneity of the incidence of the term
historiography, which became consistently used only in the twentieth century,
and especially between 1930 and 1950, a time span that coincides with the development of Brazilian scholarship in the university. Until circa 1850, the use of the
term is near zero, having significant growth between 1850 and 1890.10
In Spanish, in turn, the historiografa curve has nonrecurring significant variations: peaks (though not very high) from 1720 to 1750, and from 1820 to 1830,
with greater growth in books in the 1890s, having also peaked in results circa

Despite certain oscillations, Historiographie, in French, and Historiography, in English, also have a similar ascending curve when compared to the use
of the term in Spanish.

8. Thiago Lima Nicodemo, Urdidura do vivido: Viso do Paraso e a obra de Srgio Buarque de
Holanda nos anos 1950 (So Paulo: Edusp, 2008), 23-46; 161-195.
9. See, among others, Roberto Ventura, Estilo Tropical (Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1991).
10. Research conducted in January 2015.



This article is not focused on the detailed assessment of the specificities of the
historiographical traditions brought forth by the graphs. Such an assessment calls
for additional care in the use of the Google Ngram tool, specifically with regard
to the prior and thorough analysis of the sources the tool uses in each case. This
would imply the previous investigation of the material Google uses as its base, to
reflect upon the circulation of the books, authors, publishers, and other cultural
mediators. Moreover, it would also involve a debate on material data the graphs
reveal. For instance, one could mention the drop in the use of the term historiographie in the French context of the 1940s, which is probably a result of the
advent of World War II, and not necessarily of a systemic drop in the use of the
term itself.11
Below is the graph of the use of the term historiography in English:

It seems that in all cases seen thus far (Spanish, English, and French), the
curves strongly ascend from the 1940s1950s and 1980s;12 the charts also reveal
a drop in the last decade of the past century. The exception to such general trends
11. About the uses and limitation of the Google Ngram Viewer, see Yuri Lin, Syntactic Annotations for for the Google Books Ngrams Corpus, 2012, http://www.anthology.aclweb.org/P/P12/
P12-3029.pdf (accessed October 26, 2015); and Chris Gratien and Daniel Portillo, Google Ngram:
An Intro for Historians, http://hazine.info/google-ngram-for-historians/ (accessed October 26, 2015).
Google offers the following service: http://storage.googleapis.com/books/ngrams/books/datasetsv2.
html (accessed October 26, 2015) for researchers to organize their own databases (orcorpora),
always updated as the scanning process develops, for large-scale and thus more systematic and refined
12. On this matter, it is worth recalling the considerations of Pierre Nora, who saw a sign of
separation of memory in the very movement of history toward reflecting about itself, which took
place precisely in the late 1970s and early 1980s: Un des signes les plus tangible de cet arrachement de lhistoire la mmoire est peut-tre le dbut dune histoire, de lhistoire, lveil en France,
tout rcent, dune conscience historiographique (Pierre Nora, Entre Mmoire et Histoire, In Les
Lieux de mmoire, volume 1, La Rpublique [Paris: Gallimard, 1984], xx). This article and the charts
included here reveal that albeit common to the entire twentieth century, this phenomenon reaches its
zenith exactly when Pierre Nora was writingat least if one assumes the Google figures are accurate. As such, Noras work may not be announcing the birth, but, quite to the contrary, the peak of a
transnational phenomenon. The discussions of what historiography is immediately following the
foundation of the international publication Storia della Storiografia in 1982 further corroborates this
perspective. Cf., for instance, Charles-Oliver Carbonell, Pour une histoire de lhistoriographie, Storia della Storiografia 1 (1982), 7-25; and Lawrence D. Walker, The History of Historical Research
and Writing Viewed as a Branch of the History of Science, Storia della Storiografia 2 (1982), 102107; Milica Vasievna Netchkina, Lhistoire de lhistoriographie: Problmes mthodologiques de
lhistoire de la science historique, Storia della Storiografia 2 (1982), 108-111 (both texts refer to the
section on the discussioni: quest-ce que lhistoire de lhistoriographie?).



may be seen in the use of the German term Geschichtsschreibung: the term has an
ongoing growth curve since 1830, further increasing beginning in 1930, though
also rising during the post-World War II period. In German, Historiographie
geschichte is related to the history of historiography course, whereas Geschichtsschreibung is the subject matter thereof. Along the same lines, it is interesting
to see that the curve of the term Historiographiegeschichte is quite similar to that
of the term historiography in the other research languages with regard to the
substantial growth seen in the 1980s.

If the number of results of the word history in all researched languages is

compared to that of the word historiography, it is clear that the use of the word
history is a transnational phenomenon of the transition from the eighteenth to
the nineteenth century, whereas the use of the word historiography is a twentieth-century phenomenon. It is noteworthy that the graphs for the word history
generally confirm Kosellecks hypothesis on the emergence, from approximately
17501850, of a new experience of history and/or time and a new/modern concept
of history.
Below is the chart of the use of the word history in French:



It is clear that there is a similar rising curve from 1780 to 1800, and, in both
cases, the number of occurrences drops between 1820 and 1840, becoming steady
from the lowest point reached in the period (18201840). And now, the use of the
word history in English:

Next, the use of the word history in Spanish (including variations in the use
of capital letters):

Finally, use of the word Geschichte, in German:

The upward growth of use of the word historiography in the twentieth century, present in all the languages assessed here, may be attributed to the rise in
university production in the same century, among other factors. As a result, such
data reveals some sort of synchrony between what is assumed as center and
periphery, therefore leading one to the hypothesis that the use of the term historiography is in fact related to a process of modernization and professionalization of historical scholarship in the twentieth century.



Based on the well-known literature on the professionalization of historical scholarship, such as the works of Georg Iggers,13 Pim den Boer,14 and Peter Novick,15
among others, the phenomenon of professionalization and disciplinarization of
historical scholarship may be understood by taking into consideration: 1. the dialogue of history with the other social sciences in the process of disciplinarization
in the second half of the nineteenth century, especially sociology, anthropology,
and social psychology; 2. criticism of anthropocentrism and ethnocentrism, an
essential part of modernist culture since the late nineteenth century and expanding over the twentieth century amid the traumatic experience of two world wars;
3. the pursuit of transnational and anti-nationalistic models, concepts, research
time-frames, and topics; and 4. a metacritical turn of history, which begins with
the resistance to nationalist models of narration (such as the histoire vnementielle, in France) and leads to issues such as the linguistic turn, in addition to
several other debates over the twentieth century.
During the first half of the twentieth century in Brazil, at least with regard to
the language of professional and academic historians, the word historiography
eventually encompassed different meanings in relation to the concept of history,
leaving aside the political dimensions directly associated with the national state
and embedded in the modern concept of history. Though historiography refers to
the collective singular of history, it eventually becomes a unique event or a universal relation of events, in Kosellecks terms.16 The category implies three levels
of differentiation: first, history itself as an experience; second, the writing of history; and third, study or reflection about narrated history. Thus, it complicates the
very concept of history and also radicalizes its scientific implications. At least in
the Romance languages, the historiography category therefore opens up a new
space of experience, to wit: scientific, professional, and academic history.17

One of the most significant features of Brazilian historiography is that the processes of academic disciplinarization and professionalization did not happen simultaneously. Marieta de Moraes Ferreira recalls that the academic professionalization
13. Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the
Postmodern Challenge (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2005); Turning Points in Historiography: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, ed. Q. Edward Wang and Georg G. Iggers (Martlesham,
UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2002).
14. Pim den Boer, History as a Profession: The Study of History in France, 18181914 (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1998).
15. Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question and the American Historical
Profession (Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
16. Koselleck, Futures Past, 32.
17. It is important to notice, as Valdei Lopes de Araujo has pointed out, that the absence of the
word does not mean the absence of a practice of historiographical reflection, as may already be seen
in the beginning of the nineteenth century: Valdei Lopes de Araujo, Cairu e a emergncia da conscincia historiogrfica no Brasil (18081830), in Estudos de historiografia brasileira, ed. Mrcia
De Almeida Gonalves, Rebeca Gontijo, Lucia Maria Paschoal Guimares, and Lucia Maria Bastos
Pereira Das Neves (Rio de Janeiro: FGV Editora, 2011); Mrcia De Almeida Gonalves, Rebeca
Gontijo, Lucia Maria Paschoal Guimares, and Lucia Maria Bastos Pereira Das Neves, Estudos de
historiografia brasileira (Rio de Janeiro: FGV Editora, 2011).



process began in the 1930s, and the terms professor and historian had entirely
different meanings.18
Therefore, the transition between models of both writing and representing history are concentrated in the years from 1890 to 1950. Synthesized in the nineteenth century, the first model presupposes national identity as the organizing
form of historical discourse.19 The producers of this knowledge were members of
the imperial political elite, largely bound to the Brazilian History and Geography
Institute (Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro [IHGB]) and with no professional background, but with disciplinary concerns and standards.20 In turn, the
second model refers to duly professional writing of history, consolidated beginning in the 1930s with the establishment of university departments. As we will
discuss further, one of the strongest characteristics of the transition period referred
to herein is the rise of the discourse on disciplinary legitimacy, even prior to the
existence of university history courses.
At the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, writers such as Felisbelo
Freire, Alcides Bezerra, and Capistrano de Abreu believed that historical knowledge is scientific in terms of objective representation, thanks to documentary research methods. They also believed that the critical method had to embrace the
other social sciences in a critical dialogue. The words Alcides Bezerra used to
describe Slvio Romero, a writer of the so-called 1870s generation,21 help define
the issue: Historian, [Romero] went to the sources and conducted personal research, remembered names that had been forgotten, applied the ethnographic and
sociological method to history, having considered, much like Taine, the influences
of the environment, race, and foreign spiritual schools.22
18. The author reveals that the first history programs were generally organized in order to train
teachers for basic education purposes, and also, to a lesser extent, to work in higher education. As
such, these programs focused not on research but on teaching. In this context, historians were not
necessarily involved in teaching. According to Ferreira, this scenario only shifted with the organization of graduate programs in the 1970s: as such, the historian designation, which used to refer
exclusively to those who wrote about history, began encompassing those who have specific degrees,
either for teaching or for research purposes (Marieta de Moraes Ferreira, O lado escuro da fora: a
ditadura militar e o curso de histria da Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia da Universidade do Brasil
(FNFi/UB) Histria da historiografia, no. 11, [2013], 47. See also Marieta de Moraes Ferreira, A
Histria como Ofcio: A constituio de um campo disciplinar [Rio de Janeiro: FGV, 2013]). To further understand the creation of the fields of study, see Quest-ce quune discipline?, ed. Jean Boutier,
Jean-Claude Passeron, and Jacques Revel (Paris: EHESS, 2006).
19. See Manoel Luiz Salgado Guimares, Historiografia e Nao no Brasil 18381857 (Rio de
Janeiro: EdUERJ, 2011).
20. Lucia Maria Paschoal Guimares, Da Escola Palatina ao Silogeu: Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro, 18891938 (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Museu da Repblica, 2006). Also, about
IHGB during Brazils first Republican period (18891930), see Angela de Castro Gomes, A Repblica, a histria e o IHGB (Belo Horizonte: Argumentum, Fino Trao Editora, 2009).
21. The generation of authors who began publishing around 1870 was heavily influenced by positivism and social evolutionism, especially Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Hyppolite Taine,
among others. Capistrano de Abreu may be deemed part of this group in his early works, before he
broke away in favor of a more historicist approach. A comprehensive study of the generation is found
in Angela Alonso, Idias em movimento: a gerao 1870 na crise do Brasil-Imprio (So Paulo: Paz
e Terra, 2002).
22. Alcides Bezerra, Os historiadores do Brasil no sculo XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Oficinas Grficas
do Arquivo Nacional, 1927). Bezerra was the director of the National Archives (Arquivo Nacional)
at the time of this publication.



Though several intellectuals deserve to be highlighted in this transition process, special attention must be given to the Cear-born historian who lived in Rio
de Janeiro, Capistrano de Abreu (18531927). A teacher at Liceu Dom Pedro II
(then Brazils most important teaching institution), Capistrano is known for his
documentary rigor and review of the national history standards in Brazil, having furthered studies on the living conditions of natives and on the expansion of
Brazils frontiers to the west.23 His perspective on Brazilian history moved away
from political, military, and diplomatic events and toward the establishment of an
autochthonous society that differed from Portuguese society, especially following
his study of the occupation of Brazilian territory. Capistrano also devoted substantial work to research and document analysis as grounds to achieve solid historical
knowledge,24 having also been responsible for thorough editions of historical texts
aimed at furthering research in the field of history in Brazil.25
In fact, according to Capistrano, historiography refers to reflection on the
narrated past, a term that he supplements with the reflexive notion of historical
studies, whose subject matter is the Brazilian space since colonial times and its
interactions with Europe.26 One of the writings that most clearly reveals the use of
the term is the obituary Capistrano wrote for one of the founders of Brazilian historiography in the nineteenth century, Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen. In the text,
Capistrano bemoans the fact that his predecessor was unaware of the set of creative doctrines that, in recent years, had been referred to as sociology. Having
no access to this beam of light, Varnhagen could not have seen how social life
develops. Without it, the relations that connect the successive moments of the life
of a people could not have revealed themselves in their spirit in order to clarify the
different traces and elements, reciprocally.27 Capistrano believed a theory would
therefore be necessaryin this case, sociological theoryto interpret the past in
23. He developed these topics in Captulos de Histria do Brasil (1907, published in the United
States as Chapters of Brazils Colonial History, 15001800 [New York: Oxford University Press,
1997]) and Caminhos Antigos e o Povoamento do Brasil (1899).
24. In one of his most famous quotes, Capistrano claimed the history of Brazil (in other words,
the narration of the Brazilian historical process) was similar to a house built on sand, for previous
studies were far from being grounded. These words are part of a letter written on May 17, 1920 to
Portuguese historian Joo Lcio de Azevedo (Correspondncia de Capistrano de Abreu, volume 2,
ed. with preface by Jos Honrio Rodrigues, 2nd ed. [Rio de Janeiro: Civilizao Brasileira; Braslia:
INL, 1977], 161-162).
25. According to American historian Robert Conrad, Capistrano was the Brazilian version of
Ranke: Emotionally and methodically he [Capistrano] was a Brazilian Ranke, nationalistic, rarely
critical, devoted to the sources and the science of history. Robert Conrad. Joo Capistrano de
Abreu, Brazilian Historian, Revista de Historia de Amrica 59 (1965), 162. An important study
about Capistrano, which also deals with the image formed about him and the place he came to have
in Brazilian historiography, is Rebeca Gontijo, O velho vaqueano Capistrano de Abreu (18531927):
memria, historiografa e escrita de si (Rio de Janeiro: Sete Letras, 2013). Concerning Capistranos
critical method and his editions of historical texts, see, respectively, Maria da Glria de Oliveira,
Crtica, mtodo e escrita da histria em Joo Capistrano de Abreu (Rio de Janeiro: FGV Editora,
2013); and Pedro Afonso Cristovo dos Santos, Histria erudita e popular: edio de documentos
histricos na obra de Capistrano de Abreu, Masters degree thesis, Universidade de So Paulo, 2009.
26. Joo Capistrano de Abreu, Necrolgio de Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen, Visconde de Porto
Seguro. Originally published in Jornal do Commercio (December 1620, 1878), and reprinted in
Ensaios e Estudos: crtica e histria, 1st series (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Briguiet, 1931).
27. Ibid., 139.



its uniqueness, expressed by means of the facts, or perhaps reveal its organic and
necessary evolution.
Capistrano actually suggests an agenda for the writers of historical studies of
his time, which mixes elements of literary criticism (nationalism and empathy,
for instance) with the defense of the use of sociology, thereby implying a notion
of science marked by the drafting of laws and/or generalizations of broad reach.
In what concerns the central issue addressed here, it is noteworthy that thanks to
his assessment of Varnhagen, Capistranos work stands out amid that of the other
writers whose texts have, since the sixteenth century, had some sort of historiographical approach, and also shone a light on the debt contemporary historians
allegedly have to the Viscount of Porto Seguro. Capistrano acknowledges Varnhagens place in the future as the person responsible for bringing together the
elements to be used to build a scientific history of Brazil,28 backed by sociology.
As such, his obituary reveals how Varnhagens work stands in relation to the past,
present, and future of historical studies in Brazil. This last category therefore
embraces a unity not seen since the chroniclers of the first decades of Portuguese
colonization in the sixteenth century, as in the case of Pero de Magalhes Gandavo (1576) and Gabriel Soares de Souza (1582).
Scientific aspirations were not enough to build a legitimizing discourse to
define Brazilian historiography. It was also necessary to rethink history-writing
itself in the nineteenth century, therefore pursuing the antecedents and ancestors
of such historiography. A contemporary of Capistrano de Abreu, historian Alcides
Bezerra reflects precisely on the founding fathers of a Brazilian historical science during a 1926 lecture on Brazilian historians of the nineteenth century. Inasmuch as Brazilian science was subject to European science and history,29 Bezerra initially mentions three foreigners: The first person who studied Brazilian
history with a scientific spirit was the honorable English poet Robert Southey,30
writer of a History of Brazil published in 1819. It would then be necessary
to take into account the contributions of German thinkers Karl von Martius and
Heinrich Handelmann. According to Bezerra, It fell to Handelmann to carry out
Martiuss plan, which resulted in the best history of Brazil one has ever read.31
Considering the aforementioned context, the following items will reveal
that the use of the concept of historiography in Brazil was directly related to
the transition between the two models of historiographical production: the model
28. Among these elements, most notably, were several important documents discovered and edited
by Varnhagen, largely in the course of his voyages as a member of the imperial diplomatic service
of Brazil in the nineteenth century. His life in constant movement is studied in Temstocles Cezar,
Varnhagen em movimento: breve antologia de uma existncia Topoi 8, no. 15 (2007), 159-207.
Much of Varnhagens notion of historical erudition and textual criticism actually came from the tradition of the eighteenth-century Portuguese Enlightenment, as may be seen in Tase Tatiana Quadros
da Silva, A erudio ilustrada de Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen (181677) e a passagem da historiografia das belas letras histria nacional: breve anlise histrica, in Estudos sobre a escrita da
histria, ed. Manoel Luiz Salgado Guimares (Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras, 2006), 114-138.
29. Bezerra, Os historiadores do Brasil no sculo XIX, 3.
30. Ibid., 4, emphasis added.
31. Ibid., 9. Martiuss plan to which Bezerra refers is the thesis Como se deve escrever a histria
do Brasil (1844), or How to Write a History of Brazil, winner of the competition promoted by
Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro on the topic.



produced predominantly in the nineteenth century and based on the Brazilian

nation as the organizing structure of historical discourse; and the second model,
which coincides with the sedimentation of university production, which continues to have the nation as its central concern. Above all, the growth of the use of
the term historiography in the period 18901950 reveals a desire to modernize
history-writing and to develop a discourse of disciplinary legitimization even
before the establishment of the university.

According to Bezerra, the turning point in nineteenth-century historical production effectively took place in the first half of the century, when the difference
between chronicler and historian became clearer in the Portuguese-Brazilian domain.32 Grossly speaking, and much like in the works of Capistrano, Bezerra analyzes historians according to criteria common to nineteenth-century literary criticism, so much so that though his assessments differ from a history of literature,
it is not entirely dissociated from the criteria used in such writings of history.33
As has been previously mentioned, Google Ngram Viewer does not make data
available for the Portuguese language, but it is nonetheless possible to observe
the history of the use of the term historiografia in Portuguese dictionaries. In
the first edition of the most important Portuguese dictionary (up to the twentieth
century)Moraes Silvas dictionary of 1789there is no entry for Historiographia, though there is an entry for Historigrapho, meaning Chronicler,
Chronographer. Historiographia was included only in the eighth edition
32. When assessing Brazilian historians of the first half of the nineteenth century, Bezerra mentions the lack of scientific spirit in writers who allegedly were merely compilers. Bezerra begins
his analysis with the writers he classifies as chroniclers, namely Jos da Silva Lisboa (Viscount
of Cairu), Baltazar Lisboa, Jos Feliciano Fernandes Pinheiro (Viscount of S. Leopoldo), Incio
Accioli de Cerqueira, and Silva, among others. The main criticism of the chroniclers is the lack of
architecture in their works, the poor organization of the material (the only exception being the
Histria da Provncia de S. Pedro, which in fact was the Anais da Provncia de S. Pedro, of the
Viscount of S. Leopoldo). Brazilian chroniclers, if not mere compilers of other historians work,
copied most of the material available in the sources, having profusely transcribed documents in their
works, which actually turned out to have been a good deed (after all, they facilitated access to sources
and established certain facts), but did not make/write history. Hence, he claims, let us give peace
to the chroniclers, who perhaps died in the illusion of having made history. Let us move on to the
historians (Bezerra, Os historiadores do Brasil no sculo XIX, 10). About the historiography of early
nineteenth-century Brazil, see Valdei Lopes de Araujo. Formas de Ler e Aprender com a Histria no
Brasil Joanino, Acervo (Rio de Janeiro) 22, no. 1 (2009), 85-98, and Araujo, Cairu e a emergncia
da conscincia historiogrfica no Brasil (18081830).
33. An example of this is when Bezerra refers to Euclides da Cunha, focusing on the convergence
of style, factual diligence, and giving form to the statement of facts. Os Sertes has a vibrant and new
style, which signalizes, which marks the study of the transformation of the Portuguese language into
Brazilian Portuguese. Bezerra, Os historiadores do Brasil no sculo XIX, 17. Os Sertes, a classic
work of Brazilian social thinking (first published in 1902), is based on the study of a popular revolt
in the serto, or hinterlands, located in northeast Brazil, in the first years of the Brazilian Republic
(proclaimed in 1889), which thoroughly analyzed the region and Brazilian society of the time. The
work was translated into several languages, having first been published in the United States as
Rebellion in the Backlands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945). Sociological in nature, Os
Sertes largely influenced historiography in Brazil as well, having been included as part of Brazilian
historiography by the writers studied herein.



(1891), defined as Historiographia . . . The art of writing history. Capistrano

de Abreu had already used the term shortly before in his 1888 edition of Histria
do Brasil, written by Friar Vicente do Salvador (originally published in 1627). In
the introduction, Capistrano claims that December 20, 1627, when Friar Vicente
signed his Histria, is extremely important in our historiographia, though this
may perhaps be the only time he used the term in his works. Shortly before that,
in the 1887 edition of the same work, Capistrano had written that that day was
one of the greatest days in our colonial literature. The precocious use of the
term is found in Martiuss work, Como se deve escrever a histria do Brasil
(How to Write a History of Brazil), published in 1844 by the Instituto Histrico
e Geogrfico Brasileiro. This use possibly indicates that its use in German was
consolidated far earlier than in the Brazilian (or Lusophone) space, a fact that may
reveal its establishment as related to the disciplinarization of history, as we will
argue next, although Martiuss text may be seen more in terms of a synthetic and
romantic view, as Valdei Lopes de Araujo has observed. Martius used the term
three times, the most important of which for this study is: The works that have
been published so far on the provinces, individually, are of inestimable value. Important facts are abundant in such works and actually thoroughly clarify several
events; however, they do not meet the requirements of true historiography, for
they are largely marked by the spirit of chronicles.34
Historiographia seems to have remained, in Moraes Silvas dictionary, the
art of writing history up to the twentieth century. The term is defined in the
tenth edition, published in 1945, as the art, work of the historiographer, thus
introducing it as also being a craft or occupation, and not only an art. It is therefore clear that the use of the word historiografia in Portuguese is a phenomenon
essentially of the period of the texts assessed here (18781951). Since the term
historigrapho had been included since the first edition of the dictionary, at least
as from the sixth edition, or since the mid-nineteenth century, the dictionary was
already distinguishing between historigrapho and historiador (historiographer and historian) in the entry, terms that had been considered synonyms. The
main purpose of the explanation is to highlight that historigrapho is closer to
chronista (chronicler) than to historiador.
The affirmation of history as a science clearly was not the only pathway used
by Brazilian intellectuals. Pedro Lessa negatively addressed the issue, for instance, in his work a historia uma sciencia? (1900) and in his inaugural speech
at the IHGB, in 1907. Lessa believed history could only provide material for sociology, which was in fact a science. According to Alcides Bezerra, the issue that
defines scientific status is not the formulation of laws for history (as Capistrano
believed in 1878), or broad generalizations. Producing reliable knowledge, capable of prevailing even in political and diplomatic decisions, seems to guarantee
that which Bezerra understands as scientific. Bezerra had in mind the cases of
frontier disputes in which Brazil prevailed in international arbitration by using
34. Karl Friedrich Philipp Von Martius, Como se deve escrever a histria do Brasil, Revista do
Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro 6 (1844), 399, emphasis added. The work is included in
the compilation of E. Bradford Burns, Perspectives on Brazilian History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), which also includes the work of Srgio Buarque de Holanda, to be analyzed next.



evidence arising out of historical research on the occupation of land and former
diplomatic treaties.
In turn, Lessa uses the term historiographia as the writing of history. Apart
from Lessa, Max Fleiuss (life-tenured secretary of IHGB in the early twentieth
century) also uses the category, especially in the review of Historia de la Historiografa Argentina (1925), written by Rmulo Carbia. Fleiusss statement on
Carbias criticism of Argentine historians who were influenced by sociology is
especially relevant for the issues discussed here. His censure falls essentially on
the development of interpretations of the Argentine past without any documentary
evidence, or with the seldom-critical use of the documents. Fleuiss transcribes
Cabrias words, thus summarizing his argument: It was about time to react
against such a process of superficial and ephemeral Historiography, which, based
on what many have decided to refer to as sociological interpretation, has provided
for a wide range of levities at the mercy of applause. According to Fleiuss, Carbias conception of history, primarily derived from the works of Benedetto Croce,
understands history as the intellectual revival of the past in the historians spirit,
or resurrection, in the words of Michelet,35 based on rigor in the use of the documents in the work of historical rebuilding, in the Argentine thinkers perspective.
Fleuiss in turn believed that sociology would not be regarded in toto as a negative
influence. The same edition of the IHGB publication features a quite positive
review Fleiuss wrote on Oliveira Viannas Pequenos estudos de psicologia social.
It is worth mentioning that Romulo Carbias book was published in the same
year (1925) in which the word historiografa first became part of the Spanish
dictionary published by the Real Academia Espaola (RAE), then in its fifteenth
edition. Other Spanish dictionaries had already featured the entry, at least since
Dominguezs dictionary of 1853. The RAE lexicon in fact adopts the simpler definition of historiografa: Arte de escribir la historia (or art of writing history).
Dominguezs dictionary, in turn, added the following meaning: que ensea los
diferentes mtodos de escribirla (or that which teaches the different methods of
writing history). The 1855 edition of the Gaspar y Roig dictionary presents a mix
of both notions: arte que ensea los diferentes mtodos de escribir la historia
(or art that teaches the different methods of writing history). The definition is
somewhat similar in the dictionaries preceding the fifteenth edition of the RAE
dictionary, the only exception being the Alemany y Bolufer dictionary, published
in 1917, which adds the following definition: Bibliografia histrica (or historical bibliography). Hence, when Romulo Carbia wrote and published his book, he
uses a concept of historiography that is defined in Spanish dictionaries as an art
that of the writing of historycoupled with the teaching of different methods
for the writing of history, a specific meaning that was not included in Portuguese
The case of Argentine Romulo Carbia further supports the hypothesis about
the association between the concept of historiografia and the institutionalization
and professionalization of history as a university course. Carbia was part of the
so-called Nueva Escuela Histrica (or New Historical School) in Argentina,
35. Max Fleiuss, review of Rmulo Carbia, Historia de la Historiografa Argentina, Revista do
Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro 97, no. 151 (1925), 322.



which prevailed in the first decades of the twentieth century and played a role in
the professionalization of university-level historians in the country at the time.
Argentina led the way in this process, when compared to the other Latin American countries in the 1920sespecially if its South American neighbors are taken
into account.36 The new Argentine school spearheaded such professionalization
by advocating for a more scientific historiography, based on manuals such as that
written by Ernst Bernheim, according not only to the principles of German historicism but also largely influenced by Benedetto Croce. The group concurrently
focused on its own writing of historyas Carbia himself didusing the concept
of historiography to define this writing.

Twenty-five years after Fleuisss review of Historia de la Historiografa Argentina, Srgio Buarque de Holanda also expressed his disagreement with sociological interpretations in O Pensamento Histrico nos ltimos 50 anos. It is worth
mentioning that for Buarque, the problem of defining Brazilian historiography
was somewhat simpler when compared to the other writers assessed here. Because of the purpose of his article, which was part of an overview of Brazilian
culture in the first half of the twentieth century developed by the newspaper Correio da Manh, Buarque began with the exclusion of the colonial period and the
nineteenth century. In fact, the text defines the entire category of historical studies
as its subject matter: the entire production in the different areas of history, or that
use historyor that reflect upon history. One would therefore find historical
thinking in the theoretical references rather than in the writers work or praxis.
If works on historymonographic or generalor critical editions of documents easily fall under the subject matter of Buarques article (for they had been
part of the definition of history since the previous generation), how should the
work of writers such as Oliveira Vianna37 and Gilberto Freyre38 be classified?
36. Juan Maiguashca, Historians in Spanish South America: Cross-References between Centre
and Periphery, in Oxford History of Historical Writing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011),
IV, 483.
37. Oliveira Vianna was a sociologist who wrote important works on the interpretation of Brazilian
society, such as Populaes meridionais do Brasil (1920). His work went through a phase of heavy
criticism in the decade here considered, the 1950s (mostly due to his conservative political views), at
the same time that Capistrano de Abreu was being praised in the history of historiography analyzed
herein. An assessment of this process and comparison between the two is found in Giselle Martins
Venancio and tala Byanca Morais da Silva, Um tal Joo, um tal Francisco: disputas intelectuais e
monumentalizao da produo intelectual de Capistrano de Abreu e Oliveira Vianna nos anos 50,
in Contribuies Histria da Historiografia Luso-Brasileira, ed. Ana Rosa Cloclet da Silva, Fernando Nicolazzi, and Mateus Pereira (So Paulo: Hucitec/Belo Horizonte: Fapemig, 2013), 389-424.
38. Freyre penned a large bibliography and is especially known for the trilogy Casa-grande e
Senzala, Sobrados e Mucambos, and Ordem e Progresso. The first work, published in 1933, received
the most attention and refers to the formation of Brazils patriarchal society. Translated into several
languages, it was published in English as Masters and Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946). Freyre was recently the subject of Peter Burke
and Maria Lcia Garcia Pallares-Burke, Gilberto Freyre: Social Theory in the Tropics (Oxford: Peter
Lang, 2008). About Gilberto Freyre, Euclides da Cunha, and the tradition of ensasmo in Brazil, see
Fernando Nicolazzi, Um Estilo de Histria. A viagem, a memria, o ensaio: sobre Casa-grande &
senzala e a representao do passado (So Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2011).



There seems to be a variety of interfaces with stricto sensu historiographical production, which supports such inclusion. The sociological studies are part of
historical thought for they have opened paths for a type of research our historians had barely conducted. More specifically, Oliveira Vianna [also] dedicated
himself [in his works] to essays on social and psychological history, inspired by
facts and personalities of the Brazilian Imperial Period. Gilberto Freyre wrote
based on substantial historical material, used his extensive knowledge of the
rural past, which, together with the theoretical contributions he included (such
as the methods of Franz Boas), provided him with ideal perspectives to address
our historical formation.39
In general, such interpretations of Brazilian history or of Brazilian society
based on its history could contribute to a new direction to historical studies,
even if such interpretations were oftentimes biased and even misrepresented
the facts. Formation studies deriving from the usable past to back political
stands, as was the case of the integralismo movement in Brazil (a line of thought
close to fascism in the Brazilian political spectrum of the 1930s), however, are,
in general, barely of interest for historiographical research.40 In this case, historiography is associated with research, when compared to the practices that twist
historical facts to benefit political theories.
Astrogildo Rodrigues de Mello, professor in the Department of History of the
University of So Paulo (USP), also published an article in 1951, when Srgio
Buarque de Holanda published his work, suggesting a broad critical overview on
Os Estudos Histricos no Brasil. His review does not take foreign writers into
account, but includes the colonial period in the definition of Brazil. The terms
historical studies, history, and historiography are used interchangeably.
Mello aims at thinking about the writing of history of (and in) Brazil within
the historical process of the development of Brazilian culture. In his words, the
Brazilian historiographical issue actually provides very specific aspects whose
interpretation is rooted in clearly defined moments of Brazilian civilization.41
Though Mellos work uses general landmarks, he believes it is only possible to
speak effectively of a Brazilian historiography following Brazils independence,
especially during the Second Empire, for only then would there actually be a
Brazilian culture, arising out of the slow changes brought forth by the arrival of
the Portuguese royal family in 1808. However, the mid-nineteenth century marks
the embryonic phase of Brazilian historiography.42 According to Mello, documentary review (the study of the sources) is an incipient criterion inherent to
historiography, thereby distinguishing it from intellectual production. The dawn
of the Second Empire sees a new significant moment of historiography.
It is worth mentioning that Mello included several footnotes in his article, with
bibliographical references to the works he mentioned. Mello is the only writer of
39. Srgio Buarque de Holanda, O Pensamento Histrico nos ltimos Cinquenta Anos, in Srgio
Buarque de Holanda: Perspectivas, ed. Joo Kennedy Eugnio and Pedro Meira Monteiro (Campinas, SP: Editora da UNICAMP; Rio de Janeiro, RJ: EdUERJ, 2008), 610.
40. Ibid., 611.
41. Astrogildo Rodrigues de Mello, Os Estudos Histricos no Brasil, Revista de Histria no. 6
(1951), 381.
42. Ibid., 384-385, emphasis added.



all the central scholars of this assessment who wrote in an academic periodical
(USPs history journal, Revista de Histria), which perhaps explains the number,
scope, and academic rigor of his footnotes.
Mello mentions an essential change in Brazilian culture: the end of the passive attitude of mechanically copying foreign theories that led to the emergence
of an original cultural production in Brazil. The increased number of institutions
supporting culture, especially historical studies, is also part of this new scenario. Such institutions include the universities, among others, which were already
embedded with the new spirit: prevalence of a university spirit of historical
Srgio Buarque de Holandas case is quite interesting, because it refers to an
attempt to break with himself, since Holanda moved away from the interpretive
essay that marks his first book, Roots of Brazil,44 published in 1936, toward increasingly specific historical cuts, in line with global historiography of the time,
as can be seen in Mones (1945), Caminhos e Fronteiras (1957), Viso do Paraso (1959), and finally in Histria Geral da Civilizao Brasileira (19601972).45
Based on the indications mentioned herein, the category historiography perhaps became the regulatory principle of the expectations on the writing of history
in the university. It seems that the ambiguous but reflexive category of historiography has since become some sort of transcendental category intended as the
condition of the only possible writing of history: history written by professionals
with a university degree. Any representation of the past built outside this logic of
power and disciplinarity could be deemed history, but could it be deemed historiography?

When Jos Honrio Rodrigues, historian of Brazilian historiography, referred to

Capistrano de Abreu, Alcides Bezerra, Srgio Buarque de Holanda, and Astrogildo Rodrigues de Mello as pioneers in the study of the history of Brazilian
historiography,46 he resorted to a criterion whereby historiography, understood as
43. Ibid., 386. Mello didnt mention them explicitly, but one believes the institutions he refers to
also helped change a scenario where, for instance, a great number of historical documents and rare
books were still in the hands of private collectors, and there was a constant fear of the dispersion
of these papers in the auctions that inevitably followed the collectors death, a process analyzed by
Tnia Maria Bessone, Palcios de destinos cruzados: bibliotecas, homens e livros no Rio de Janeiro,
18701920 (Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 1999).
44. Srgio Buarque de Holanda, Roots of Brazil (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame
Press, 2012).
45. For this transition, see Nicodemo, Urdidura do vivido; Thiago Lima Nicodemo, Os planos de
historicidade na interpretao do Brasil de Srgio Buarque de Holanda, Histria da Historiografia
no. 14 (2014), 44-61.
46. Jos Honrio Rodrigues, Histria da Histria do Brasil. Primeira parte: Historiografia Colonial, 2nd ed. (So Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1979), xv-xvi. Rodrigues further classifies as
avant-garde a set of texts in which Capistrano de Abreu once again refers to Varnhagen, published in
the newspaper Gazeta de Notcias, of Rio de Janeiro on November 21, 22 and 23, 1882. Capistrano
was not even thirty years old when he wrote these texts and provided new perspectives on Varnhagen
and the writing of history in Brazil, but repeated, in general lines, the logic of the obituary: a critical
assessment of Varnhagen that goes beyond him, transforming into an interpretation of Brazilian his-



the history of the writing of history and not exclusively as the writing of history,
would appear independently, so as to justify the choice of such texts.47 This is
so because that which Rodrigues understands as Brazilian historiography had
already been covered in the histories of Brazilian literature since the nineteenth
century, as is the case, for instance, in the works of Slvio Romero (1888) and Jos
Verssimo (1916), where history was included as part of the division of literature, as a variety of prose. In fact, Jos Honrio attempted to separate the histories
of literature from the study of historiography, for he claimed a formal and stylistic
criterion that prevailed in the former as opposed to an approach focused on the
specificities of the historical discipline.48
Astrogildo Rodrigues de Mello used the category of Brazilian historiographyas
the main focus of his article. In turn, Capistrano used the term historical studies,
which is also present in the works of Srgio Buarque, and which is also the title
of Astrogildos article. Alcides Bezerra used the expression historical science,
and insisted more than once on treating history as a science. However, it is clear
that all the texts ultimately reveal what is currently referred to as review and/or
analysis of the state of the art or historiographical assessment.
The four writers assessed here did not limit their activities to listing works and
writers, but actually analyze and categorize the production they discuss. In each
case, such a process results in a type of ideal notion of what Brazilian historiography would effectively be, a compilation of indispensable characteristics and
defects to be avoided. Brazilian historiography therefore receives its meaning
through the interpretation of texts produced on the object Brazil.
Defining the content of the category varies according to the authors and
the specificities of the context in which each text was written. For Capistrano
de Abreu (1878), historical studies refers to the authors of works with some
type of historiographical content, beginning in the colonial period, foreign writers
toriography based on a consideration of how the history of Brazil should be written. Considering the
three articles, in essence, the first one may be read as an assessment of the importance of Varnhagens
work, together with everything that was still left to be done in Brazilian historiography; the second
article contains Capistranos outline of how Brazilian history should be understood, especially in what
concerns the specificities of each period, in order to find its internal logic and the specific studies that
are still necessary to enlighten such logic; the third article, in general, is the most historiographical
in nature and includes a review of Varnhagen as a historian and an assessment of the main writers
of historical studies in Brazil at that point, in addition to an optimistic report of the then-current situation (in other words, of 1882). In fact, the category that Capistrano de Abreu used in these articles
is historical studies or history of Brazil (in the sense of producing knowledge on the Brazilian
historical process), without mentioning the term historiography.
47. It is worth mentioning, as Andre de Lemos Freixo has pointed out, that Rodrigues wrote
about Brazilian historiography since the 1940s in several articles, and even publishing, in Mexico,
by the Instituto Panamericano de Geografa e Historia, two volumes on Brazilian historiography of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in 1957 and 1963 respectively (both entitled Historiografa
del Brasil). As part of his efforts, Rodrigues also edited the correspondence and various writings of
Capistrano de Abreu.
48. Rodrigues was instrumental in the beginning of the study of the history of historiography in
Brazil. About his work, see Raquel Glezer, Fazer e o saber na obra de Jos Honrio Rodrigues: um
modelo de anlise historiogrfica, Doctoral thesis, Universidade de So Paulo, 1977; Ana Luiza
Marques. Jos Honrio Rodrigues:uma sistemtica terico-metodolgica a servio da histria do
Brasil, Masters thesis, Pontifcia Universidade Catlica do Rio de Janeiro, Departamento de Histria, 2000; and Andre de Lemos Freixo, A arquitetura do novo: cincia e histria da Histria do
Brasil em Jos Honrio Rodrigues, Doctoral thesis, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2012.



included. In turn, for Alcides Bezerra (1926), the periodization is given a priori:
it is only the nineteenth century. However, for Bezerra, it is not possible to speak
of a history of Brazil or a Brazilian science independently, dissociated from the
existence of history, and/or of science, of the civilization to which Brazil belongs:
European civilization. As such, Bezerra includes foreign writers who penned histories of Brazil. Much like Alcides Bezerra and limited by the periodization required by the publication in which his text would be included, Srgio Buarque de
Holanda (1951) restricts his assessment to the first half of the twentieth century,
thereby effectively excluding foreign writers (though Buarque specifically highlights the foreign professors invited to lecture at Brazilian universities in the final
portion of his text). It is clear that Buarque already envisioned a certain autonomy
in the field of historical studies in Brazil, which in fact does not singlehandedly
result from the rise of the universities. Like Capistrano, Astrogildo Rodrigues de
Mello (1951) understands Brazilian historiography as any work that has a historiographical bias, necessarily written in Brazil, considering the political unit
existing as Brazil in the colonial period.
Based on Jos Honrio Rodriguess suggestion, it is possible to capture different but connected needs regarding the writing of history in Brazil in the four
texts he classified as pioneer texts, so that all such texts are part of a context of
transformations experienced by Brazilian historiography and the very category of
historiography during the late Imperial period (1870s) to the systematization
of university production (since the 1950s). These texts are aimed at reflecting on
the future of historiography, at suggesting a research program and rules for what
should be attempted next. The period between 1878 and 1951, which marked
the spread of the aforementioned works, is located between the two attempts at
institutionalizing the writing of history: from history as thought produced by the
Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro and then by the University, to stick
solely to the institutions that stand out in each period. It is therefore possible to
claim that the issue of institutionalizing history as a university-level course is contemporary with the spread of the term historiography to indicate the production
thereofwhereby the term also becomes available for the sake of historicizing
said production.49
All four aforementioned works may certainly be deemed nowadays as studies
on Brazilian historiography. These writings attempt to contextualize and analyze
historiographical production, each in its own way, in addition to being self-legitimizing discourses for historical studies, for university discipline, and, above all,
for the writers themselves. The fact that they understood historical knowledge as
49. About the history of historiography as a historical genre, see Rodrigo Turin, Histria da
historiografia e memria disciplinar: reflexes sobre um gnero, Histria da historiografia no. 13
(2013), 78-95, and Valdei Lopes de Araujo, Sobre o lugar da histria da historiografia como disciplina autnoma, Locus (Juiz de Fora) 12, no. 1 (2006), 79-94. For the confirmation of a disciplinary
memory in Brazil, especially in the final years of the period analyzed here, see Fbio Franzini and
Rebeca Gontijo, Memria e histria da historiografia no Brasil: a inveno de uma moderna tradio,
anos 1940-1960, in Mitos, projetos e prticas polticas: memria e historiografia, ed. Rachel Soihet,
Maria Regina Celestino de Almeida, Ceclia Azevedo, and Rebeca Gontijo (Rio de Janeiro: Civilizao Brasileira, 2009), and Angela de Castro Gomes, Histria e historiadores (Rio de Janeiro:Editora
Fundao Getulio Vargas,1999), about the construction of a historiographical memory in the years of
the Estado Novo, the dictatorship led by Getlio Vargas that lasted from 1937 to 1945.



being independent, as having singularities, led such writers to interpret and read
the representations of the national past with the eyes of history as a discipline,
thereby thinking in terms of method, theory, and production of knowledge about
the past.
The recurring exchange between the terms historical studies, historiography, and history (and even theory) to refer broadly to the writing of history
and/or the history of historiography still exists in Brazil. (Although recently the
field of history of historiography has grown in such a way in Brazil that the use
of the expression historiography in this sense has sharply declined.50) One may
nonetheless infer that there has been a progressive abandonment of the expression
historical studies in the development of studies on the history of historiography,
replaced by the use of history or historiography. Far more than what may be
an unrealistic requirement of coherence, one necessarily shines light on the inaccuracies, which nevertheless constitute the history of a subdiscipline (that is, the
history of historiography) clearly undergoing the process of becoming independent and increasingly institutionalized.

The term historiography eventually absorbed different meanings of the concept

of history in the first half of the twentieth century in Brazil, at least in the lexicon
of professional and university historians, leaving behind the political and social
dimensions of the modern concept of history. Even if historiography refers to the
singular collective noun history, it eventually gained its own independence. As
has been argued here, this process likely refers to the attempt to break with former
writings of history. The research conducted leads one to believe that the development of a specialized tradition, the outcome of several works on historiography,
together with the semantic ambiguities of the historiography category, enables the
field of experience of historicity of historical production to promote (or at least to
render more accessible) the use of the expression history of historiography beginning in the 1950s/1960s. Based on the Brazilian experience, it is possible to formulate the hypothesis according to which the category of historiography possibly
transformed itself as an indicator of the transformations of the modern concept of
history itself between the 1870s and the 1940s, a period of intense modification of
the experience and expectations of the writing of professional historical scholarship on a global scale.
It seems that the ambiguous but reflexive category of historiography has since
become a sort of transcendental category aimed at the condition of possible history, moreover, of the only possible writing of history: history written by professionals with a university degree. The category has the advantage of not being
mistaken for the concept of history, for history itself, or for the experienced process. It therefore likely refers to a sophistication of the concept of history itself,
as well as of the radicalization of the scientific purpose of such a concept. At least
50. See Valdei Lopes de Araujo, Sobre o lugar da histria da historiografia como disciplina
autnoma, Locus (Juiz de Fora) 12, no. 1 (2006), 79-94.



in the Romance languages, it seems that the historiography category therefore

provides a new space of experience, to wit, professional and academic scientific
history. This is certainly the case in Brazil.
Representations of the past built outside this logic could in fact be history, but
would they be historiography? It is nevertheless clear that the category of historiography will also not be able to solve the enigma of history, or solely of the past.
On this matter, it is also necessary to take Kosellecks considerations into account,
when he mentions the productive tension between the history of concepts and
social history; in other words, there will not always be an accurate conjunction
and synchronicity between a fact, or social praxis, and a concept to denote it.51
Is the process described herein a result of the furtherance of the modern concept
of history, to the extent to which history began being produced at the universities? Or is it in fact part of a larger process of deflation of the modern concept
of history, defined by certain scholars in the post-World War II period?52 These
questions deserve further investigation. One may nevertheless claim that the establishment of the Brazilian historiography category must be understood 1. in
view of a critical approach to the realistic conception of the concept of history;
2. considering the self-legitimization and process of the discipline of history becoming independent from the production of other institutions, such as IHGB and
regional historical institutes (which were the prevailing loci of historiographical
production in the first half of the twentieth century); 3. based on the construction of a disciplinary memory or tradition; and 4. also in view of the need to
distinguish history produced by the universities from the other representations of
the past. It is possible that the broad acceptance of the category may be explained
by the fact that despite all the ambiguities, historiography is broader in terms of
research subjects of the subdiscipline (history of historiography), but it goes beyond the fields themselves. Nevertheless, it is necessary to discuss whether the
category does not ultimately limit the study of the representations of the past to a
single type of writing: university production.
Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Pereira)
Universidade Federal da Integrao Latino-Americana (Cristovo dos Santos)
Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Nicodemo)

51. Koselleck, Futures Past, 114. See also Reinhart Koselleck, Espacio e Historia, in Los estratos del tiempo (Barcelona: Paids, 2001), 97-98.
52. Cf. Franois Hartog and his thoughts on presentism as the historicity regime that prevailed
beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, as is the case in What is the Role of the Historian in an Increasing Presentist World?, in The New Ways of History: Developments in Historiography, ed. Gelina Harlaftis, Nikos Karapidakis, Kostas Sbonias, and Vaios Vaiopoulos (London and
New York: I. B. Tauris, 2010), 239-252.