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A house for the people: the Instituto Cultural Israelita Brasileiro and the making of a Jewish-progressive cultural center in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Grant number: 15/21057-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2016
Effective date (End): July 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning
Principal Investigator:Renato Cymbalista
Grantee:Amanda Rodrigues Vieira
Home Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FAU). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

At the end of World War II, a group of progressive Jews of Sao Paulo started the construction of the Brazilian Israelite Cultural Institute, known as "House of the People". It was an initiative to strengthen and perpetuate the secular Jewish culture and Yiidish language. As a program, the building, proposed a school, a theater, a centralized library, areas for sports festivals and conferences. In addition, the so-called "Casa do Povo", or "Peoples House" was also proposed as a memorial to Holocaust victims. The combination of memory activities and actions to intervene in the present and the future of the Jewish community and the city as a whole configured a "living monument", in line with the values of the international progressive Judaism. The research project focuses on the complex - but extremely well documented - process of building the House of Commons between 1947 - when the association was assembled and the land purchased - and the end of the 1960s, when the latest reform is proposed, to accommodate changes in high school that worked in the building. This process evokes utopias, social networking, negotiations and the difficulties faced by this minority group of Jews in Sao Paulo, involved in building a modern and avant-garde proeto imbued with dreams, cultural references and tensions.