University of Sussex
Dutra Salgado, Pedro Lucas.pdf (2.17 MB)

The peculiarity of Brazilian state-formation in geopolitical context: the challenge of Eurocentrism in international relations and political Marxism

Download (2.17 MB)
posted on 2023-06-09, 13:24 authored by Pedro Dutra Salgado
This thesis provides a historical reconstruction of the long-term trajectory of Brazilian state-formation (ca. 1450 - 1889), developed as a contribution to the sub-field of IR Historical Sociology. Theoretically, it is informed by the tradition of Geopolitical Marxism, which emphasises the social conflicts – on both sides of the Atlantic – that inform the geopolitical strategies and disputes between coloniser and colonised, without being determined by them. This account challenges existing theories of IR and Historical Sociology, in which trajectories of state formation are explained through the use of generalising theoretical assumptions foreclosing case-specific particularities, especially in non-European cases. I propose instead a radical historicist approach to social science, reframing social theory as a methodological guideline for historical analysis. Empirically, this amounts to a reinterpretation of Portuguese maritime expansionism, deriving the geopolicies of South American occupation not from generalising notions of colonialism or the expansion of capitalism, but from the situated practices of elite and inter-elite reproduction. The thesis moves on to show how the events that followed Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal in 1807 eventually led to Brazilian independence through an analysis of the competing interests of Portuguese and Brazilian elites, exacerbated by and geopolitically managed through the interference of British strategies of informal imperialism in Latin America. After formal independence, Brazilian policy making is driven not by the aspiration towards a civilizational standard or capitalist modernisation, but by the conflicts between segments of the ruling class, especially regarding the long-delayed transition from slavery towards other forms of labour control. The argument is that the historicist method does not only provide the key to the “peculiarity” of the Brazilian case by questioning the biases towards state-centrism in mainstream IR and towards structuralism in Marxism, but that it also overcomes the challenge of Eurocentrism by incorporating the agency of non-European subjects in the making of their own history.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • International Relations Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager