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The technical premises for national sentiment: scientific, educational and social logics of radio volunteering (Brazil, 1923-32)

Abstract : From 1923 to 1932, a group of major Brazilian intellectuals braved the ban on using radio techniques, then under state monopoly, to promote and practice popular education. To understand such a movement of civic disobedience — which will become part of the myth of origin of broadcasting in Brazil —, we must focus on analyzing the reconversion of the anthropologist Edgard Roquette-Pinto to popular education through new communication technologies, and the crystallization of several groups defending a national science and education policy. The very prestigious Roquette-Pinto, that leaded the Radio Sociedade do Rio de Janeiro, had previously demonstrated, by the most legitimate sciences, that the Brazilian mestizo (a national race that was considered to be emerging) was not racially degenerated, but only sick, thus curable by hygiene and education. By building a radio broadcasting station, animated by the greatest figures of the Brazilian scientific and artistic world, who broadcast the most legitimate cultural contents by air, Roquette-Pinto and his allies hoped to make up at the lowest cost for the deficiencies of a still limited network of schools and to promote healthy behaviors and awaken patriotic feeling. During the same period, another kind of radioamateur practice — as illegal as the first mentioned —, was developed and deserves also to be better understood : young people initially fascinated by the technique, and then a little later, by the modern worldliness to which could give access the new world of radio, gradually made the project of a broadcasting which would be entertaining. From the competition between these two groups with very contrasting social compositions, will die the revolutionary projects which animated the first radio experiments worldwide, to leave place in Brazil to a broadcasting financed by the advertising industry, but framed by an imperative of “educating through entertainment”. This new configuration then gave birth and valorized economically and symbolically the national emblems of a Brazilian industrialized popular culture : Brazilian popular music (samba) and radio fiction (before telenovela). The analysis of sociability around these two kinds of civic disobedience of radio volunteering shows how the advertising broadcasting that we know up to our day is an arbitrary configuration that is stabilized in particular power relations. On the one hand this configuration determines the genesis of conditions of a national communication network which will serve as a support for the creation of a sense of national belonging and the valorization of a new cultural production as an emblem of nationality. On the other hand, these broadcasting stations were the first concretization of a social network, at nation scale, that would become, during the 1930s, the actor of the very first national cultural and educational policy in Brazil.
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Contributor : Vassili Rivron <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 9:45:05 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 4:51:16 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01938952, version 1


Vassili Rivron. The technical premises for national sentiment: scientific, educational and social logics of radio volunteering (Brazil, 1923-32). Cultural Mobilization : cultural consciousness and national movements in Europe and the World (SPIN), SPIN Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms; NISE Nationale Bewegingen en Intermediaire Structuren in Europa; ASEN Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, Sep 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ⟨hal-01938952⟩



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