Confederate Immigration to Brazil: A Cross-Cultural Approach to Reconstruction and Public History

Karina Esposito


Given the interconnectedness of the contemporary world, it is imperative that historians place their studies within a global context, connecting domestic and foreign events in order to offer a thorough picture of the past. As historians, we should aim at exploring transnational connections in our published research and incorporating the same methodologies in the classroom, as well as in the field of Public History. Cross-cultural collaboration and transnational studies are challenging, but exceptionally effective approaches to developing a comprehensive understanding of the past and connecting people to their history. Important recent scholarship has placed the American Civil War in a broad international and transnational context. This article argues for the importance of continuing this trend, pointing to a unique case study: the confederate migration to Brazil during and after the Civil War. This episode can help us understand the international impact of the War in the western hemisphere. These confederates attempted to preserve some aspects of their Southern society by migrating to Brazil, one of the remaining slaveholding societies in the hemisphere at the time. Moreover, the descendants that remained in Brazil have engaged in a unique process of remembering and commemorating their heritage over the years. Exploring this migration will enhance Civil War and Reconstruction historiography, as well as commemoration, heritage and memory studies.

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