Skip to main content

About - Brazilian Court Records under Authoritarian Regimes

The Universidade Federal do Oeste do Para (UFOPA) in Brazil aims to safeguard the archive of the Court of Justice located in the city of Óbidos, second largest riverine municipalities of the Lower Amazon region. The collection covers the end of the so-called “Old Republic” (1900-1930) as well as several authoritarian regimes that followed, including the coup of Getuilio Vargas in 1930 up to the end of the military dictatorship (1964-1988). The materials include printed and handwritten administrative files for civil and criminal trials run by the Pará State Court. 

The first part of the collection documents criminal trials regarding theft, threat, aggression, murder, sexual harassment, prisoner runaway, and more. The other part of the collection, the civil trials, covers a wide variety of subjects, such as  inheritance inventories, guardianship of orphans, emancipation of minors, acknowledgment of paternity, bankruptcies of commercial establishments, disputes for land, labor court trials (rubber industry, big infrastructure projects), acquisitions of land by prescription as consequence of authoritarian projects for Amazonia, and more.

The archive records the intricacies of the daily lives of Amazonian civilians in a time of restricted individual rights as well as the modernization of Amazonia by authoritarian projects. The materials act as living memories of those living in the Lower Amazon during the authoritarian regime of the 20th century. They also represent the diversity within the population, including individuals of various occupations and other demographics. 

A particular point of cultural interest in this collection is the series of documentation on trials regarding land disputes. This aspect and those alike in the archive represent the support of local people and creating protected areas such as indigenous lands, territories of descendants of African slaves, or even ecological conservation units for people of historical traditions. Furthermore, this content can also help reconstitute chains of ownership of lands to better identify instances of land grabbing.