Saturday, August 5, 2023

"Progress in the Balance"

New from Cornell University Press: Progress in the Balance: Mythologies of Development in Santos, Brazil by Daniel R. Reichman.

About the book, from the publisher:

Through a historical ethnography of Santos, Brazil, Progress in the Balance addresses and assesses an anthropological theory of progress. Observing that anthropology is a progressive discipline with a pessimistic attitude towards progress, Daniel Reichman explains the contested meanings of progress in Brazil and explores how anthropologists and others can define this concept more generally. He investigates how any society can separate "progress" from plain old change and, if change is constantly happening all around us, how and why certain events get lifted out of a normal timeframe and into a mythic narrative of progress.

Each chapter outlines a particular episode in the history of Santos, a city undergoing an unprecedented period of economic and political turmoil, as it is represented in public culture, mainly through museums, monuments, art, and public events. Drawing on the anthropology of myth, Reichman proposes a model that he refers to as a "clash of timescapes." Progress in the Balance shows how this concept of "progress" requires a different temporal structure that separates sacralized social change from mundane historical events.
--Marshal Zeringue