Since regional and international society in the fifteenth century

the beginning of the century, the relative European decline and the ascend of
emergent countries, like Brazil, have been widely discussed. And as Benedetto
Croce has said “every true history is contemporary history”. We look back to
the past in order to try to find solutions the important issues of the present.
It can be argued that it was during the 19th that Brazil negotiated
its access and recognition as a member of an international society of European
and global expansion. It was a country that sought to establish itself as
independent in a system deeply marked by asymmetry of power, status, and
ranking, developing in the process, instruments to access the world of

essay aims at briefly analyzing how Brazil sought to insert itself into the
European international society – along the lines defined by the English School
of International Relations–. How did it negotiate its access to the
international society of sovereign states centered in Europe?

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the authors of the English School, the transformation from system to
international society was a historical process. According to them, the ancient
world had several systems of states, as for example Classical Greece, China,
Rome, the Byzantine, etc. These have evolved into a European international
society and, finally, our “universal international society of the
present” (Bull, 2002: 15; Watson, 2004: 37). In this conception, Europe
began to take shape as a regional and international society in the fifteenth
century and to expand rapidly in the nineteenth century. As a result of this
expansion, the most diverse regions of the planet were incorporated into the
mold of European society, extending this formation to the whole world following
the Second World War and decolonization (Gonçalves, 2002: 18).

symbol and instrument of this expansion was the juridical-political structure
of the sovereign state, which began to consolidate in the late 18th  and early 19th century, with the
conclusion of the processes that led to the independence of the United States,
Brazil, and Hispanic colonies in the Americas. For the “classical”
authors of the English School, Brazil adhered, as part of the process of
independence of European colonies, as a kind of Neo-Europe – an admission free
of greater obstacles (Watson, 1985: 127-141). As Europe expanded into the
non-European world, there was in a confrontation not only in political,
economic, or military terms, but above all in terms of civilizations and their
cultural patterns. The core of this confrontation was the “standard of
civilization” by which different civilizations identified and regulated
their international relations. The practices that became accepted as
“civilized” were those coming from European countries and soon became
demanded by the international system centered in Europe. It was used to
distinguish those who belong to a particular society from those who do not
belong. Membership in this sense was conditioned to a degree of homogenization,
requiring non-European states to make social and political reforms and to
accept the rules and principles of international society. In the mid 19th
century, Brazil and other non-European entities began to demand or be required
to join a European core international society. This is an important period of
the British “imperial turn”, in which the planet has been
scrutinized, occupied and Europe’s relations with the world have been redefined
based on a European center. Thus, as the English School suggests, the period
was marked by the expansion of international society of a European character
worldwide, in an extremely stratified form, both between the Europeans
themselves and also among the non-Europeans themselves.

the time, it was not easy to classify Brazil as barbarian or savage, but the
government and political elites worked hard to gain recognition of civilization
and thus belong to the first group. However, it was only partially successful.

state to be recognized as independent and legitimate (whether by dynastic or
national legitimacy), 15 celebrating treaties and establishing diplomatic
relations did not mean, however, necessarily to be seen as a full member of
international society. Many of the non-Europeans, even recognized as legitimate
and sovereign, eventually allowed, or were forced to allow, extraterritorial
rights of Western powers – an important indicator of inferiority and
subordination status, proving that their sovereignty was only partial.

refers to the legal regime in which a State claims jurisdiction over its citizens
residing in another country. Brazil officially only maintained it for a certain
period, until 1844, as an inheritance of the Portuguese Overseas Empire. Thus,
although it was formally recognized as independent and sovereign, it was not a
full member of European core international society, because it lacked the
so-called “standard of civilization.” The permanence of slavery
played an important part in that.

was a former member of the Portuguese Overseas Empire officially independent in
1822 in the form of a constitutional monarchy. The option for the title
“empire” apparently responded to several local demands: it symbolized
the continental extension of the territory, which by its size deserved to be so
called; was distinguished from Portugal, the old metropolis, which called
itself Reino (Souza, 1999: 259); did justice to the political preferences of
Dom Pedro I, a deep admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte; or took into account the
long tradition of the party of the Divine Empire (Ribeiro, 1995; Schwarcz,
2001). In other words, it was a statement of affiliation greater to the Old
than to the New World. The title was no longer used until 1889, when the
Republic was introduced, when Brazil underwent a new phase of
“reinvention”, distancing itself ostensibly from Europe and turning
to the Americas. However, even the Republic can still be understood as a
“peripheral empire” depending on its territorial extension and even
regional power.

the 19th century, Brazil was a newly independent political community
in search of recognition. It is important to mention the Brazilian peculiarity
in the region of, in fact, to stay closer to Europe than of its region by good
part of the 19th century. Not exactly as a Neo-Europe, as Watson
preaches, but as an entity seeking to marry its internal and external interests
with the international environment. Brazil continued head-on into slavery,
which played an important internal role when it no longer had a place in
international society. A peripheral entity seeking to enter the world via
international law and diplomacy, but also declaring intent to meet such
standards of civilization. The Paraguayan War had a fundamental internal role
on one of the pillars that had maintained the territorial union of the former
Portuguese colony, but which now threatened its status as civilized and
democratic: slavery. It also sealed the fate of the conception of Brazil as an
empire, leading to the proclamation and establishment of the Republic. It is
interesting to note the feeling of alterity that was established in relation to
Hispanic America considered violent, unstable and even barbaric (Bethell, 2012:

process of Brazilian independence dragged on in successive stages between the
arrival of the Portuguese crown in Rio de Janeiro in 1808, the formal British
and Portuguese recognition between 1825 and 1827, until Dom Pedro I’s return to
Europe in 1831. The period coincided with the process whereby the Congress of
Vienna came to accept new members, nominally the “new states of settlement”
of the American continent. The legitimacy of these entities could be national
or dynastic, the product of bloody wars, consent or payment of reparations.
European recognition was formalized through treaties and the establishment of
diplomatic relations, mainly in the form of delegations led by minister’s
plenipotentiaries and extraordinary envoys28.

was born, in the 1820s, from the Portuguese Overseas Empire and from which it
had inherited vast experience in diplomatic matters. This expertise made all
the difference in the formation of borders, in the management of rivalry with
Spanish American neighbors, and in obtaining European recognition (Almeida,
1998; Cervo & Bueno, 1992).

was, therefore, a certain functional and administrative continuity between
Portuguese America and independent Brazil, especially with regard to
specialized officials. The first wave of diplomats had to deal with the
negotiation of the recognition of Brazilian independence, first made by the
African kingdoms of Benin and Lagos and the United States, then by Portugal and
Great Britain and other European states. The recognition of the old metropolis,
Portugal, and the main power of then, Britain, certainly, were the most
important cases 33.

de facto suppression of trafficking, through the Eusébio de Queiroz Law, of
July 12, 185044.For the British, Brazil finally fulfilled its
previously signed treaties and followed “the common principles of humanity
and the fundamental precepts of the Christian religion” (Bethell, 1970:

the second half of the nineteenth century, despite the economic and political
weaknesses that it still had, Brazil began to participate with some intensity
of the international economic order that was established. Was present at


agreements and adhered to the first technical and economic treaties that
established cooperation among States.

Brazilian participation in the Second Hague Convention (1907), which was
responsible for dealing with formal issues of war and the creation of a
permanent arbitration court, was an important international scene in Brazil, in
the figure of Rui Barbosa, but also for bringing the public a discourse that
called for equality between States in relation to international society51. “Brazil
came out of the scope of immediate and near issues to broaden its view and its
responsibilities” (Cardim, 2007: 63). It is the inaugural moment of the
Brazilian presence in international forums, claiming a more egalitarian role in
the elaboration of the norms that should govern the great international
problems of the time (Vargas, 2000: 8). It is significant, therefore, its
perception of Brazil as an average power of then.

participation in World War I, on the British side, even if more symbolic than effective,
finally granted him credentials to participate in the negotiations of the Paris
Conference, and, finally, a ticket as a representative in the congress of the
League of Nations. The definitive internationalization of Brazilian politics
was then (Cardim, 2007: 52). He then returned to the question of the
possibilities and limits of the insertion of states, which were not great
powers, in the management of the international system conceived by the Treaty
of Versailles, but then in another context totally different from the European
Concert and with other possibilities of insertion, , however.

Brazilian participation in the universal exhibitions of the second half of the
nineteenth century can be understood as the effort of these entities to participate
in a ritual of European and North American “self-congratulation”, as
parts of the international society of that time. It is interesting to consider
how the other nations considered the nation’s sovereign. D. Pedro II was the
monarch of the “young sister nation,” he was a Christian, and though
he was a native of Brazil, he descended from the most important European
lineages. The fact that he did not “look like a king,” wearing
ordinary clothes, wearing a straw hat and preferring to give up
“benefits” from his position, rather than disappoint, attracted the
American public interested in this “monarch of the New world”.
Brazil, which then began to take part in international events, increased its
participation to the point that at the beginning of the twentieth century, to
host the III Pan American Conference in 1906, in the then capital city of Rio
de Janeiro. The first visit on Brazilian soil of a foreign chief occurred in
1899, already in the Republic, with Argentine President Julio Roca. On the
occasion of the Pan American Conference in 1906 the Secretary of State of the
United States, Elihu Root, would appear, being the first high authority of that
country to visit Brazil.

However, even though there was a continuous pursuit of adherence to
European diplomatic rituals, practices and symbols since its independence, this
process lead to the creation of asymmetrical relations with the center of
European international society, which can to a certain degree still be
perceived nowadays. For example, nowadays Brazilians still commonly refer to
Europe as “first world”, praising and considering superior everything that
comes from the Old Continent. The embedded feeling of inferiority, rooted in
the past experiences and relations with the European international society have
not yet completely disappeared.