Feminist Activism Through the Arts in Late 19th Century and Early 20th Century: A Diachronic Comparative Study Between Portugal And Brazil

Isabel Cristina Carvalho, Christiane Heemann, Teresa Oliveira

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Brazil and Portugal are two countries that, although geographically located on different continents, share a history (from 1500 to 1822 when Brazil was a Portuguese colony) and the same language (Portuguese), and both have very high rates of domestic violence and situations of gender inequality. Growing fundamentalist and ultraconservative parties around the world are threatening gender equality and women’s conquest for rights. In Portugal and Brazil, new parties with extremist discourses and ideologies that perpetuate patriarchal societies are also growing. It is crucial to continue breaking paradigms and remembering history, particularly the moments marked by the struggle for human rights. Many women have fought for their rights, advocated for gender equality, and worked toward building women’s citizenship in and through education. Looking particularly at Brazil’s post-independence period, we conducted a diachronic comparative study of feminist activist artists from these two countries and found inspiring examples of feminine resistance and resilience. We analysed different female approaches that surprised us with their originality and creativity. We looked at the similarities and differences between how Portuguese and Brazilian women with access to culture and art—painting, music, literature, etc.—positioned and manifested themselves in the face of these social and cultural inequalities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The women artists that we studied have reached professional status as artists, which has allowed them to become financially independent. Thus, they have been able to leave the private sphere and enter the public and international sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Art activism
  • Equal rights
  • Feminism
  • Gender biases
  • Women empowerment


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