Demolitions, debates and preservation attempts: approaches based on the cases of Salvador and Recife (1910-1930)

Abstract The so-called “demolition events” are one of the most dramatic and tense expressions of the reforms that marked the urban modernization processes of several Brazilian cities on the turn to the 20th century. Beyond futuristic projects or visions of progress per se, the demolishing forces allow us to question and analyze representations in dispute and readings of the city, landscape and past. They lead also to the identification of political, economic, and cultural interests, as well as estrangement, astonishment, regrets, and dissonant voices that pointed to a certain sense of tradition and, we might say, preservation. Thus, this paper aims to discuss some demolitions cases at Recife and Salvador in the 1910s, considering, both the broader context of urban reforms and efforts to create official services to protect monuments in the 1920s. Therefore, we mobilized several primary sources (articles from differents periodicals, photographs, official reports, among others) to identify and discuss speeches of social agents, changes of words, images, meanings and arguments inserted in a wide open and undefined debate about colonial heritage of urban landscape and structure.