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Universidade de São Paulo

Universidade de São Paulo

Brazil's largest and most renowned research university, the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) was founded in 1934. The university grew from the state's Constitutionalist Revolt of 1932 against the national government of Getúlio Vargas. While the uprising failed, it prompted the drafting of a new constitution giving higher priority to public education and, in São Paulo, generated boosterism among affluent coffee planter and industrialist families. This was the environment in which state governor Armando Salles de Oliveira spearheaded the creation of Brazil's first comprehensive university, collaborating with sociologist Fernando de Azevedo and Júlio Mesquita Filho, owner of the Estado de São Paulo newspaper. Prior to the creation of USP, Brazilian higher education was fragmented into separate schools offering professional education, so the backbone of the new university was formed by absorbing the state's law school. Reflecting the power of French thought in Brazil, the early USP attracted such scholars as Roger Bastide, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Fernand Braudel. In the 1950s and 1960s, USP begat the so-called "São Paulo School" of research into race relations. Led by Florestan Fernandes, these scholars began to trace racial inequality in Brazil. Fernandes and other members of this movement such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Octavio Ianni were purged by the military regime in the 1960s. During the military dictatorship, the campus became a hotbed of student protests. When these were repressed, USP became a recruiting ground for urban guerrilla movements. By 2006 USP had a student body of more than 80,000, of whom 25,000 engaged in post-graduate studies. USP offers doctorates in 289 fields across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering, arts and architecture.

See alsoAzevedo, Fernando de; Brazil, Revolutions: Constitutionalist Revolt (São Paulo); Cardoso, Fernando Henrique; Fernandes, Florestan; Ianni, Octavio; Vargas, Getúlio Dornelles.


Azevedo, Fernando de. Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to the Study of Culture in Brazil. New York: Macmillan, 1950.

Cardoso, Fernando Henrique. Dependency and Development in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

Fernandes, Florestan. The Negro in Brazilian Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Tristes Tropiques [1955]. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

                                             Jerry DÁvila

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