What is it about?

This is a review of Marina Massimi new book entitled "Psychological Knowledge and Practices in Brazilian Colonial Culture", published in the series Latin American Voices, Springer Nature, 2021. The author is an Italian historian of Psychology. Her work adresses the history of psychological ideas circulating in Brazil during the colonial period, from the XVIth until the early XIXth century, in the works of philosophers, thinkers and religious leaders. Drawing on multiple sources, the text shows how knowledge and practices related to the psychological dimension of human life were developed among the diversified ethnic and social groups that constituted the Brazilian population, and their contribution to the building of the “mestizo character of Brazilian culture”.

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Why is it important?

The book is a unique testimony of the complexities of the Brazilian cultural formation and of the “ethnotheories” and ideas about the psychological dimension of human life that, according to the author, can be considered part of the domain of psychological knowledge.


The reading of Marina Massimi's book shows the relationships between past and present characteristics of Brazilian culture. It was for me a great pleasure to see how her work inspires a sense of appreciation of cultural diversity and the need for reconciliation and of building a more generous and democratic society. These lessons, issued from the analysis of the contradictions and pain pervading the history of traditional communities in Brazilian society during the colonial period and their psychological ideas, could help to think liberating projects in other regions of the world living with similar dilemmas deriving from colonization processes.

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

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This page is a summary of: Psychological Knowledge and Practices in Brazilian Colonial CultureMarinaMassimiSeries: Latin American Voices. Springer Nature, 2021. 238 pp. $119.99 (cloth). ISBN 978‐3‐030‐60644‐2; 978‐3‐030‐60647‐3 (paper); 978‐3‐030‐60645‐9 (eBook). https://doi.org..., Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, March 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/jhbs.22196.
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