"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history that we make today." (Chicago Tribune, 1916).
The reason for me quoting Ford is that I just finished reading Greg Grandin's book Fordlandia. Fascinating read for a Brazilian who knew nothing about the city envisioned and built by Henry Ford in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Given that Ford is considered the "father" of consumer culture, it's probably also an interesting read to all those who like to think critically about consumption.
Ford's plans to profit from a rubber plantation in Brazil were probably his greatest failure ever. But Fordlandia, as the Amazonian village built on the margins of the Tapajós river was called, was not meant to be only a rubber source for Ford industries in the U.S. It was also one more of the several social experimental civilizing crusades Henry Ford undertook during his life.
Several reviews of "Fordlandia" have been published since it was released in 2009 (how can one ever catch up with all that there's out there to be read???) and the book was among the Chicago Tribune favorite books of 2009 and the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2009, and it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the category history.
Instead of trying to provide an original review here, I offer instead a bit of what is missing in the book - visual and personal information. The few photos included are posed, almost institutional - most coming from the Ford archives. Of course Greg Grandin did an amazing job in the book, yet I couldn't help but wonder: who are these Brazilians whose life stories intertwine with the history of Ford's grandiose dreams of civilization?
So I did a little research (light speed netnography?) on the town' online community on Orkut (still more popular than Facebook in Brazil), and I'll post here what I found - as soon as I get a reply of my request for consent to post some pictures of the city as it is today.
In the meantime, check Grandin's interview on YouTube (part 1 and part 2) which contains excerpts of original footage of Fordlandia made by Ford's employees in the mid 1940's. Then come back soon for more!