International Development in the Brazilian Context in the 1950s and 1960s: A postcolonial reading of Guerreiro Ramos

Abstract This article analyzes, from a postcolonial perspective, ideas observed in the work of the Brazilian sociologist Alberto Guerreiro Ramos. To do this, first, we examine the basis of postcolonial theory, especially the general context where it emerged. Then, we examine the historical context of Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s, by discussing works by the author that portrayed the transformations in the country within this period. We devote special attention to his sociological reduction theory, as it shows his concern to discuss both epistemic colonialism and his idea of development. Finally, we compare how the postcolonial approach and Guerreiro Ramos' ideas relate to one of the most widespread theories having the precept of development as its main source of legitimacy: the International Business and Management Studies (IBMS). This analysis demonstrates that epistemic colonialism was among the key issues of Guerreiro Ramos' thought. However, we conclude that, despite the author's merits in having raised an earlier discussion that is congruent with postcolonial concerns, his thought was deeply rooted in a mystified idea of international development, similar to that of IBMS, very criticized by postcolonialism. This article seeks to contribute to the Brazilian critical organization studies, by showing the potential of postcolonial thought to challenge and defamiliarize ethnocentric and universalistic assumptions that have grounded theories and decision making processes in most of the world's societies since World War II.