Army, Masculine Honor,
Race, and Nation
The complaints, civil disobedience, rhetoric, and humor generated by
army recruitment in Brazil from 1864 to 1945 illuminate conflictual transi-
tions in notions of honor, masculinity, penology, citizenship, national
identity, sexuality, and the limits of public power. This process sped up in
the 1910s when an influential group of educated Brazilians formed a con-
sensus that a draft would help resolve a variety of threats to national
strength and unity, ranging from regionalism to public hygiene, racial
‘‘degeneration,’’ and national defense. Meanwhile, the State and pro-
conscription civil organizations worked to convince the ‘‘respectable’’
poor that enlisted service was honorable. To execute a draft and other
‘‘progressive’’ reforms it was essential to alter common perceptions of
‘‘honorable’’ manhood.∞
The spread of modern military practices to Brazil and other nations in
the 1900s challenged patriarchal privileges, political practices, institu-
tions, and conceptions of status. But, even if the distance between the ideal
and the practice of universal male conscription was often great, the lev-
eling and homogenizing rhetoric that accompanied it popularized a more
inclusive conception of national identity. The following sections ponder
themes analyzed in preceding chapters: the army, masculine honor, race,
and nation.
The transition from impressment to conscription distanced enlisted ser-
vice from some of the most commonly used tropes employed to describe
praça status: slavery, criminality, marginality, and depravity. Improving
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