The bandeirantes of freedom: The Prestes Column and the myth of Brazil's interior

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The Prestes Column rebellion is one of the most mythologized events in modern Brazil: from 1924 to 1927, a group of junior army officers marched nearly 15,000 miles through Brazil’s vast interior regions. This Homeric epic into the so-called “backlands” launched the careers of some of Brazil’s most important figures and, for nearly a century, has attained a mythic status in folklore and political history. Seeking to both explain and intervene in this legend, I argue that the myth of the Prestes Column emerged from and remained tethered to the stigmatized image of the interior. As a corrective to the Column's dominant narrative and intervening in scholarship on myths more generally, I reimagine the interior as both a place and an idea. The enduring symbolism of the backlands shows that exclusion, rather a byproduct of national mythologies, is the pillar on which the ideas of inclusionary myths are based.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-132
Number of pages32
JournalHispanic American Historical Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Prestes Column
  • interior history
  • tenentismo
  • mythology

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