How do Brazilians remember their history and what do they want for their future?
Second edition. July 2019.

Brazil is the largest country in South America and plays an increasingly important role in the world, yet for many it remains an exotic, far away place. Brazil: A History of Change draws students into an often surprising and overlooked history. Like the United States, Brazil was colonized, gained its independence, and eventually overshadowed its colonizer. Like the United States, Brazil is a country of immigrants with a history of slavery that shaped its growth and affects it to the present day. Brazil: A History of Change gives students an overview of Brazil’s history and traces its legacies through the present. Part I focuses on the colonial era and the role of slavery and abolition in shaping Brazil. Part II examines the birth of the republic, the vast influx of immigrants, and the era of military rule. Part III explores how Brazilians have defined their democracy after military rule.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.


The Geography of Brazil

Students familiarize themselves with Brazil and its neighbors, significant cities, and landmarks on a map. They then work together to explore images of Brazil and identify issues and themes for inquiry.

Reading History: Slavery in Brazil

Students use primary sources to develop an understanding of the institution of slavery in colonial Brazil and issues of race within the Brazilian empire.

The Brazilian Flag and the Republic

Students analyze proposed versions of Brazil's national flag and consider various viewpoints about Brazil's future.

Film Analysis: Repression and Resistance During Military Rule

After watching a documentary about a family's experience of repression, resistance, and torture during Brazil's military dictatorship, students consider how personal stories contribute to historical understanding.

The Options Role Play

Students work cooperatively using primary sources to present three options Brazilians debated in 1984 about the future of democracy in their country.

Racial Identity in Brazil

Students examine a Brazilian painting and the racial categories in the 1976 and 1990 Brazilian censuses, and consider issues of racial and ethnic identity in Brazil.

Get to Know Influential Brazilians

Students gain familiarity with the lives, ideas, and aspirations of a range of Brazilians from various historical eras and analyze their ideas and actions in their historical context.

Students analyze the music and lyrics of a Brazilian song and then create a music map. They consider the meaning of the song and the political power of music.

Assessment Using Documents

Students analyze primary and secondary sources and then answers questions about Brazil's Amnesty Law of 1979, the work of its National Truth Commission between 2011-2014, and the lingering effects of Brazil's military dictatorship.


Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.

Dunn, Christopher. Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Green, James N. We Cannot Remain Silent: Opposition to the Brazilian Military Dictatorship in the United States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010

Green, James N., Victoria Langland, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. The Brazil Reader: Politics, History and Culture. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

Lesser, Jeffrey. Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Skidmore, Thomas E. Brazil: Five Centuries of Change. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Weinstein, Barbara. The Color of Modernity: São Paulo and the Making of Race and Nation in Brazil. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2015.

A blog by Professor Colin Snider with profiles of interesting and important Brazilians throughout history.
Interactive text and video explore the idea and history of race in Brazil.
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