The title is from a Melville’s book, White Jacket. Chapter five is only about Guanabara Bay:



"Talk not of Bahia de Todos os Santos--the Bay of All Saints; for though that be a glorious haven, yet Rio is the Bay of all Rivers—the Bay of all Delights—the Bay of all Beauties. From circumjacent hillsides, untiring summer hangs perpetually in terraces of vivid verdure; and, embossed with old mosses, convent and castle nestle in valley and glen."

Herman Melville, White Jacket

For my dissertation, I wrote an environmental history of the Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, from 1870-1970. Sounds huge, and it is. But it is an old love. One of the side benefits of choosing this theme is that I did my field research from Ipanema, at my parents’ home. Not bad at all.

Never became a book. One day, maybe...

The ‘Bay of All Beauties:’ State and Environment in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, 1875-1975


Zephyr L. Frank, Associate Professor of Latin American History and
John D. Wirth (in memorian), Gildred Professor in Latin American Studies

Dissertation Committee:

Zephyr Frank (Chair)
Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University
Thomas Holloway, Director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas, UC Davis



This dissertation is a history of Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and of the institutions that managed its environment between 1875 and 1975. It illustrates the birth of environmental agencies in Brazil, and how administrative, scientific and military institutions resisted to or integrated environmental concepts into their traditional activities. It explores the interplay of the urban environment and the natural environment in Guanabara Bay against a continuously shifting political and legal background. Regime change, international pressure, personal networks and demographic growth add to the complexity of this century-long investigation of one of the most celebrated landscapes of Latin America. The dissertation contributes to the development of environmental history in Latin America by combining this innovative approach with more traditional concepts of urban history and history of technology.


Sedrez, Lise. The Bay of All Beauties': State and Environment in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1875-1975. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 2005

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