Conservative intellectuals, sociability and practices of immortality: the Brazilian Academy of Letters during the military dictatorship (1964-1979)

Diogo Cunha

Resumo


This article is part of a broader study about the Brazilian Academy of Letters under the military regime (1964-1979) and the behavior of its members during this period. The central question that guided this research was to determine to what extent this officially “apolitical” institution could serve as an agent of legitimization for the dictatorship. The aim of this paper is to look at politics through what I am referring to as “practices of immortality”. This study seeks to know whether the “House of Machado de Assis”, through its supposedly apolitical daily activities, contributed in some degree to legitimizing the regime implemented in 1964. The swearing in, the visits received by the academics and the way in which the official memory was established by the “immortals” are examined in this paper. The results reveal a close relation between the Brazilian Academy of Letters and the military dictatorship evidenced by the recruitment of its members and their social networks. They also show that the political, military, and cultural elites shared values that were remembered and praised at the events of the Brazilian Academy of Letters: good citizenship and patriotism; the idea of an “authentic culture” and a national identity based on a common language and on the Christian religion; as well as myths such as the cordiality of the Brazilian people and the absence of violence in the country’s history. Besides being a place where a conservative discourse was developed and where conservative men and ideas circulated, this cultural institution was associated to the military dictatorship and, consequently, to a supposedly “national” memory, culture, and identity by the “immortals”.

Keywords: military dictatorship, Brazilian Academy of Letters, conservative intellectuals.


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Este obra está licenciada com uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional

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