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Commemorative Postal Issue | Bicentenary of Independence – Popular Movements

About the Stamp

Through the concept of Utopia and the idea of a country under construction, the artist appropriates several historical images of popular manifestations in Brazil and creates a new image, a Utopia Reinvented from social struggles and popular manifestations. Using the word as a symbolic object, the artist creates an image composed of thousands of letters, phrases and words that propose the reinvention of the Brazilian utopia through the power of memory (as a place of struggle and dispute for social narratives). The power to tell and write one's own history is also the possibility of building a fairer future for Brazil, a future project that can value narratives of equality and social justice. The technique used was typing, stamping and xerography on paper.

Bicentenary of Independence

Popular Movements

The Independence of Brazil was almost always told and retold as if it had been, simply, a great agreement between elites interested in the maintenance and reinforcement of their political and economic interests. As a result of this agreement, the vast majority of the population of Brazil at the time – around 3 million people – would have been completely outside of a supposedly linear, smooth and fundamentally peaceful process. Over the last 200 years, this version of Independence has been reinforced by one of the great founding myths of our national history: that of a country created and developed without wars, without excessive violence, and populated by peaceful, understanding understanding people.

It doesn't take much to prove that our history was not like that: it just takes a look around us and to how the vast majority of Brazilians have lived in the last two centuries. Nor was Independence, the founding and central chapter of Brazilian history in general, like that. It is true that the political separation between Brazil and Portugal had agreements between elites, understandings of the powerful people in defense of their common interests, and negotiated transitions that resulted in a country that, since its birth, has very peculiar characteristics, not always well decoded by those who casts a first and unprepared look at it. But this separation also had a lot, a lot of violence. Starting with the inescapable violence of all those societies– as it was the case in Brazil at the beginning of the 19th century – based on slavery. There was also violence in the form of armed, civil and military conflicts, which during the 1820s took place in many regions of the country that was being formed, including the wars in Bahia, Maranhão, Piauí, Pará and in the Cisplatina Province (current Uruguay, at the time part of the Kingdom and later the Empire of Brazil). And even though the clash between different political projects, typical of Independence, did not always lead to open violence, the press of the time and the street demonstrations further potentiated diverse forms of popular participation that should never be overlooked. Even though they were not the main force acting in the Independence.

In the historiography of Independence, popular participation has always been in the sights of many attempts and important historians who, however, almost always constituted minority voices. José Honório Rodrigues, for example, in the 1970s dedicated significant pages of his vast work, Independence: revolution and counter-revolution, to the theme of popular participation. Years later, the growth of studies focused on black slavery, indigenous history and the field of law were active reviewers of the topic, giving it new dimensions. Currently, independence studies are more eager than ever to continue along this path.

It couldn’t be any different: we live in a Brazil that is sensitive to the until now perennial problem of social differences, reinforced by renewed perspectives on combating racism, machismo, sexism and all other forms of prejudice and exclusion. Scholars of the past, due to their professional duty always sensitive to the world that, in the present, surrounds and informs them, were never so comfortable in recognizing: the Independence of Brazil did have popular participation.

Which, of course, does not mean a safe-conduct to exaggerate and distort such participation. It may not have been a central element in the lines of force that defined Independence. But the separation between Brazil and Portugal, which created the conditions for the creation of a Brazilian State, a nation and a national identity that did not exist before 1822, was also the result of actions, ideas, worldviews, anxieties and frustrations located mainly among the most inferiorized groups of society at the time. And as the great master historians teach us, the history of losers, having made them losers, must never be confined to oblivion. Also because history, as a human achievement, is always an open path that can lead to different places, depending on the wishes and conditions of its only protagonists. Losers of the past can become winners of the future.

And so, the initiative of the Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos, of evoking and honoring popular participation in the Independence of Brazil through a stamp, constitutes an outstanding landmark of the Bicentennial of 2022, offering brazilians an excellent pretext for the Bicentennial of such an important event to be more than a source of festivities, but also an invitation to the knowledge and understanding of their country, its history and the place in which, in them, each of us occupies.

João Paulo Garrido Pimenta

Professor at the Department of History of University of São Paulo - USP

Technical Details

Stamp issue N. 8

Art: Hal Wildson

Print system: offset

Paper: gummed chalky paper

Sheet with 10 stamps

Facial value: 1st class rate for domestic mail

Issue: 80,000 stamps

Design area: 44 x 26mm

Stamp dimensions: 44 x 26mm

Perforation: 11 x 11.5

Date of issue: June 25th, 2022

Places of issue: Cachoeira/BA and Rio de Janeiro/RJ

Printing: Brazilian Mint

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