Marcos Silva (1950-2024)

Marcos Silva (1952-2024)


Tribute to the historian and professor, recently deceased

Marcos Antônio Silva was a historian and professor. These two dimensions were inseparable in him. His work is aimed not only at researchers, but also at education workers. He was very active in reformulating the history curriculum.

Marcos Silva advocated a curriculum with an emphasis on the history of Brazil, which earned him hasty criticism, because as Caio Prado Junior demonstrated: thinking about Brazil means understanding it in the world. Just as discussing Catholicism in the colony is, according to Marcos Silva, resuming Roman, Greek or Egyptian and Mesopotamian antiquities. He admitted that it was even legal to study those themes before the History of Brazil, as long as they were not taken as chronological origins or causes[I].

The idea of ​​Portuguese America would erase the Afro and indigenous presence. Classic themes would remain essential, such as the Industrial Revolution, but accompanied by their impacts on the restructuring of geopolitical hierarchies, international exploration and resistance and revolutions.

Professor of history methodology at USP, he was endowed with great intellectual courage. For him there were no sacred cows free from criticism. Politically, I would say that Marcos Silva appropriated both Marxism and various socialist theoretical orientations. He valued popular culture and fought all forms of prejudice at the university.

We cannot forget that he was a worker from the Northeast who studied in the 1970s at USP and who did not want to join any of the academic churches. Marcos Silva was a determined supporter of those below and, consequently, of historiography that valued the perspective of the oppressed.

Free from fads, he used authors without any commitment to the silencing imposed by small ephemeral university powers. He recognized anathematized communist authors such as Edgard Carone and Nelson Werneck Sodré. And he also cited popular musicians in his scientific articles.

When the press and part of the university celebrated Elio Gaspari's journalistic work on the dictatorship, Marcos Silva subjected his books to rigorous scientific criticism that he published in Adusp Magazine and later in the book The Relative Dictatorship, by editor Maria Antônia do GMarx-USP. He dismantled the “definitive version” of Golbery’s spokesperson.

He did the same, although recognizing the quality of the authors, with the collection História da Vida Cotidiana no Brasil, a book that he left unpublished. Among his references were Antonio Gramsci, EP Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, Michel Foucault, Luisa Passerini and Jean Chesnaux, the author he translated. He cultivated oral history, but fought the idea that there was only one established use in Brazil. He proposed other approaches. He read deeply Gilberto Freyre, Câmara Cascudo, Mário de Andrade, Paulo Prado and many Brazilian authors.

Despite his incessant intellectual rebellion that included critical dialogue with his own institutional space of action, Marcos maintained a hallmark of the Faculty of Philosophy at USP: the permanent concern with form. He draws attention to his reading of popular music, touching on the historical meaning of tones and rhythms, in addition to the content of the lyrics. Marcos Silva was also an excellent reader of cinema and taught classes on the use of visual sources in history.[ii]

I met Marcos Silva when I was an undergraduate history student at USP and he was already a professor. We were together in many debates, popular parties that he organized and political demonstrations. I organized the book with him and Olga Brites Women who interpret Brazil, by the publisher Contracurrent. The presence of women who would not normally participate in an anthology of this type is mainly due to Marcos Silva. For him, there were no different levels between Mãe Menininha, Carolina de Jesus and Emília Viotti da Costa.

Marcos Silva was like that. Averse to hierarchies. Unlike Ferdinand Braudel, the master who did not believe in overcoming all oppression, Marcos Silva agreed more with Jean-Paul Sartre. And he dreamed of a transparent and free society. He made no difference between the speech of a student and that of an established academic and subjected both to criticism. He thought like that and acted like that. [iii]

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of the PT (Studio). []


[I]Silva, Marcos. “Everything you can be: Sad BNCC/History (the final version)”, Teaching in Re-Vista, December 2018.

[ii] A sampling of his varied interests can be seen in the articles he has published on the site the earth is round. Available in

[iii]A first version of the text was originally published in

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