This talk puts Brazil at the center of a global search for new economic models to fix capitalism following the Great Depression. It does so by telling a connected and comparative history of corporatism in the interwar decades. Elements of corporatism were tested across Latin America – in Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Brazil – and beyond, whether we look to Portugal, Italy, or even the United States. As diverse as these governments were, some democratic and others dictatorial, they were forged from the same conjuncture: the interwar crises of laissez-faire capitalism and political liberalism. Proponents of corporatism defended their experiment as a “third path” between capitalism and communism, one in which the state intervened in economic life to impose “social peace” between labor and capital for the sake of economic development. This talk explores the transnational circulation of ideas, texts, and policies between and beyond Brazil to show how and why corporatism was tested so widely in the 1930s and 1940s. It also argues for why it is necessary to re-incorporate corporatism into the history of global capitalism in the twentieth century.
Melissa Teixeira is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. She also holds an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from the University of Cambridge and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her arrival at Penn, Teixeira was a postdoctoral Prize Fellow in Economics, History, and Politics at Harvard University.