I am off to São Paulo . . . a State . . . that is the exemplar of our progress, of
our culture, of our civilization, and one that produces, not only for its own
consumption, but also to furnish the wealth that all of Brazil requires for the
satisfaction of its needs.
—Júlio Prestes, 1927, upon leaving Congress to assume the presidency of São Paulo
In The Strategy of Economic Development (1958), economist Albert O.
Hirschman remarked at length on a phenomenon characteristic of
many “underdeveloped countries,” a process he dubbed “dualistic
development.” According to Hirschman, innovation and progress in
underdeveloped economies cluster around “growth poles” that create
signifi cant, and escalating, interregional inequalities, a trend he con-
sidered both inevitable and, in the short run, desirable. “This transi-
tional phase” would allow a nation to make the most of its existing
resources and, if the conditions were right, the fruits of progress could
be expected, eventually, to “trickle down” or diffuse out to the less
developed region(s). He did readily admit that dualism “brings with it
many social and psychological stresses” and expressed some concern
about “the tendency to magnify the distance that separates one group
or region from another,” including the circulation of derogatory and
racialized stereotypes.1 But while Hirschman lamented the readiness of
the average Italian “to declare that Africa begins just south of his own
province,” he betrayed no concern that he himself deployed adjectives
that could serve to entrench the differences between regions in ways
that went well beyond standard economic indicators or contingent eco-
nomic advantages. Explaining the circumstances in which “polarization
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