Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Maria Paes de Barros: silent memoirs in times of struggle for emancipation
Eveline Viterbo Gomes

Última modificación: 2017-07-16


This study has the process of transformation/maintenance of the mentality about womanhood in Brazil as its theme, by analyzing the autobiographical account of Maria Paes de Barros, originally published in 1946, entitled No tempo de dantes and of interviews given on the occasion of her one hundredth birthday in 1951. It therefore has as a time frame, the era in which the author's memories are delineated, during the second half of the nineteenth century and the 1950s, during which she had a certain fame in the São Paulo media. It is qualitative, documented research, characterized as a case study for taking the testimony of the author in order to analyze the movements of female emancipation, present, although veiled, since the nineteenth century, when Barros was born in the city of São Paulo, in 1851, in the heart of one of the richest families of the region: the Souza Barros’. The reminiscences of the author refer to the central objective of the study, the aim of which is to analyze the transformations which have occurred in the limitations and possible expectations of women over a lifetime situated between her memoirs as a young girl and a woman and the experience of transformations that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Memories of her everyday education at home and the figure of her father, the Commander Souza Barros, who decided on the education of the children and laid down the house rules, in the mould of the traditional patriarchal family of the nineteenth century, heir to the Portuguese colonial tradition, occupy a privileged place in these memoirs. When writing her memoirs in the mid-twentieth century, Barros allows us to glimpse important issues regarding her place of speech. At a time when world wars contextualized and instrumentalised women seeking emancipation, autonomy and greater political participation, the memoir author wrote about a model for education that prevailed for the education of women for marriage and motherhood, almost invisible, in the shadow of the men of the family. In praise of the silent woman, the memoir author came out of the shadows and was exposed in the book. What would be the effects on her of the new era? Still, on the occasion of her one hundredth birthday, Barros gave a series of interviews which highlighted questions about the status of women in the early 1950s, with emphasis on work and family. Thus, in the opposition imposed by the realities experienced in the interim of one hundred years, the actions and statements of the memoir author, it can be concluded that on the one hand, the education received in childhood became the commitment to the education of the new and emancipated woman. On the other hand, the context of the 1950s changed her conception of the female role to some extent. The mentality, which is long-lasting, slowly changed, marked by stuffiness, advances and idiosyncrasies, always bounded by temporality and space. Barros was, then, a woman of her time, of her space. She had insight to understand the new demands of the twentieth century, but rooted in the values ​​and traditions of the century in which she lived her youth.