In this history of right-wing politics in Brazil during the Cold
War, Benjamin Cowan puts the spotlight on the Cold Warriors
themselves. Drawing on little-tapped archival records, he shows
that by midcentury, conservatives--individuals and organizations,
civilian as well as military--were firmly situated in a
transnational network of right-wing cultural activists.
They subsequently joined the powerful hardline constituency
supporting Brazil's brutal military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.
There, they lent their weight to a dictatorship that, Cowan argues,
operationalized a moral panic that conflated communist subversion
with manifestations of modernity, coalescing around the crucial
nodes of gender and sexuality, particularly in relation to youth,
women, and the mass media.
The confluence of an empowered right and a security establishment
suffused with rightist moralism created strongholds of
anticommunism that spanned government agencies, spurred repression,
and generated attempts to control and even change quotidian
behavior. Tracking how limits to Cold War authoritarianism finally
emerged, Cowan concludes that the record of autocracy and
repression in Brazil is part of a larger story of reaction against
perceived threats to traditional views of family, gender, moral
standards, and sexuality--a story that continues in today's culture