Little is known about his mother, Mello Freyre, except that in her adolescence, she learned the modern languages and Latin. His father, Dr. Alfredo Freyre, was a professor of law, a free-thinker, and a conservative Catholic. He was also a great admirer of Anglo-Saxon traditions and, after teaching English to his son, enrolled him in a Baptist missionary school run by Americans. At Columbia, Freyre is said to have lost faith in his Protestant religion but acquired a new enthusiasm: cultural anthropology.
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Little is known about his mother, Mello Freyre, except that in her adolescence, she learned the modern languages and Latin.
His father, Dr. Alfredo Freyre, was a professor of law, a free-thinker, and a conservative Catholic. He was also a great admirer of Anglo-Saxon traditions and, after teaching English to his son, enrolled him in a Baptist missionary school run by Americans. At Columbia, Freyre is said to have lost faith in his Protestant religion but acquired a new enthusiasm: cultural anthropology.
Prominent pioneering anthropologist, Franz Boas , was a professor at Columbia and had an especially deep influence upon Freyre. Additionally at this time, Freyre became enthralled by the possibility of interpreting Brazil by looking at its past. After graduating Columbia and subsequently traveling Europe for a year, Freyre returned to Brazil in full of new ideas. One of them was the importance of regional differentiation within a country as large as Brazil.
It was, he felt, that by taking advantage of rich local traditions from architecture to culinary arts that Brazilians could maintain their identity in the face of an alienating modern world.
With this in mind he organized a Regionalist Conference in Recife in and encouraged the development of local novelists, poets, and artists. In the U. During this time, Freyre traveled through the U. The work was criticized as an idealization of the paternalistic relationship between masters and slaves. Conversely, the book won international acclaim for its author and gave Brazilians a sense of national identity and of belonging together.
It also made Freyre a household name among literate Brazilians. The work is still credited with exposing the Brazilian cultural heritage and providing a source of national pride. Freyre believed that the Iberian-Catholic tradition would play a prominent role within the hybrid culture, but the miscegenation among all the races would produce a unified and robust race and enable everyone to attain opportunities within the society.
Freyre was the prime mover in the first Congress of Afro-Brazilian Studies in with the goal of studying African minorities. In , as World War II ended, Vargas was deposed in a bloodless military coup, Freyre was choose as Constituent to the House and then elected to the first term of democratic rule out of the Constitution of in the period known as the Second Republic. In the Brazilian Congress he proposed the creation of social research institutes throughout the country, the first of which, was established in July of as the Instituto Joaquim Nabuco de Pesquisas Sociais.
In he became the director of the Regional Center for Educational Research in Recife, advocating an educational policy attentive to the diversity of Brazil. Shortly after he accepted an invitation from the Portuguese government to visit Portuguese provinces in Africa where Freyre would develop his theory of Lusotropicalism.
He wrote many books on Portuguese settlers and mixing races from s. Freyre continued to write and lecture into his eighties. He was well recognized by American and European scholars as a sociologist, politician, and writer. Moreover, he has been acknowledged as the most influential Brazilian intellectual of this century. Freyre died July 18, , in Recife. He was Share this:.
The Masters and the Slaves
Gilberto de Mello Freyre
The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization