Poetics and Politics in the Naming of Brazilian Towns

  • Jörn SeemannEmail author
Living reference work entry


At the interface between geography and language, the study of place names is among the most exciting topics in modern cultural geography. Toponyms go far beyond the mere naming of places and the linguistic and historical aspects of their origins. Researchers investigate not only spatial distributions and patterns, but also delve into political and cultural practices behind the place names in order to reveal the dynamics of their naming and renaming in time and space and the reasons and agents behind these processes. The aim of this paper is to discuss the naming practices of Brazilian towns (municípios) in the light of national policies and local power structures in the country that result in political and poetic naming strategies. I will present a brief overview of the situation of the country’s 5570 municipalities and analyze how these names have emerged and changed over time. Special emphasis is giving to initiatives such as the “Tupinization” policies during the Vargas Regime (1930–1945) and the recent official efforts by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics to standardize national place names and exonyms. Despite existing naming rules, Brazilian place names show ecletism and creativity and can be considered products of official identity and territory-shaping processes as well as popular and common sense initiatives.


Brazilian place names Namescapes Naming policies Standardization of place names Spatial history 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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