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date: 09 December 2023

Gender and Sexuality in Colonial Brazillocked

Gender and Sexuality in Colonial Brazillocked

  • Ronaldo VainfasRonaldo VainfasDepartment of History, Universidade Federal Fluminense


The topics of gender and sexuality in Brazilian historiography, though available from colonial chroniclers to the present, were notably absent in 19th-century historiography, which was constrained by the moral taboos and racial prejudices of that age. This was true until the early 20th-century turning point represented by the works of Paulo Prado with regard to language, and of Gilberto Freyre with regard to content, in their pioneering attempts to address the issue, emphasizing how interracial procreation and sexual desires shaped Brazilian history. Historical research at universities began in the 1980s, based on unpublished sources and international scholarship on new topics. This resulted in studies on marital relations, misogynist patriarchalism, accepted models of licit sexuality, and various other transgressions such as adultery, concubinage, male and female homosexuality, sexual imagery, libidinous behavior by members of the clergy, and acts considered deviant behavior or associated with heresy. Recently, sources have come into use from the Ecclesiastical Court and the Portuguese Inquisition, which assumed jurisdiction over accusations of bigamy, sodomy, priests who took advantage of the confessional to molest their parishioners, and declarations that contradicted Catholic moral theology with regard to chastity, celibacy, and fornication or were suspected of being heretical due to their association with Protestant doctrines. Additionally, there are important works inspired by French scholarship on the history of mentalities and the historical and philosophical contributions of Michel Foucault.


  • History of Brazil
  • Gender and Sexuality

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