Brazilian Anarcha Feminist Revolutionary: Maria Lacerda de Moura, 1887-1944

 Here is the story of Maria Lacerda de Moura, brave pioneer of progressive anarcha feminism on Brasil. It is thanks to the efforts of Maria and her comrades a century ago that today we have a diverse and vibrant anarchist movement.MARIALACERDAWEB 3

Maria Lacerda de Moura was a teacher, journalist, writer, lecturer and poet and in everything she did her anarchist beliefs in human emancipation shone through, even when she never explicitly used the word ‘anarchism’.

Maria was born on the Monte Alverne farm in Manhuaçu in Minas Gerais state, Brazil on 16 May 1887. She was the daughter of Modesto de Araújo Lacerda and Amélia de Araújo Lacerda, freethinkers and educated folk from whom she certainly inherited her strong anticlerical outlook.14

Five years after she was born they moved to Barbacena, the town where she started her schooling and by the age of 16 she was training as a primary teacher, the profession to which she was deeply committed. One year later she married Carlos Ferreira de Moura, the companion who always supported her – even after their relationship had ended.Maria-Lacerda-de-Moura-anarquista

In 1915 the couple adopted two orphans, a girl and one of Maria’s own nephews. At that point, she was so committed to her profession as an educator that she set up the League Against Illiteracy and gave free classes. From that valuable experience she came to the conclusion that the purpose of the educational system was to shape people’s personalities, forcing them to abdicate their own individual identities in order to tailor their behaviour to what suited the interests of the established order.violência simbólica mulher cláudia bonfim (2)

Furthermore she realised that it was not enough just to fight illiteracy if they were to achieve a fairer world. That would require a more profound change, a real social revolution!

So she embarked upon her study and investigation of libertarian education as well as delving into the social question. In 1918 she began her career as a writer, issuing her first book On Education. Such was the impact it made that the following year she published two follow-ups Why Does the Future Triumph? andRenewal.

In 1921 she and the family moved to the city of São Paulo where she started work as a private tutor. At that time of great social upheaval she started to give lectures (some in the city of Santos) to trade unions, cultural centres, anarchist theatre groups and labour associations and the likes of the Printing Workers’ Union, the Anticlerical League and the Union of Footwear Crafts.maria lacerda de moura - o amor plural de han ryner bc

She also started to write for the anarchist press, among it the newspaper A Plebe where she wrote about ‘the underlying and ancillary sciences of education and educational psychology’ carrying on and adding to the work done in that field by Neno Vasco with the weekly newspaper A Terra Livre in 1906.

At around the same time she helped to found the International Women’s Federation and the Women’s Anti-war Committee, based in São Paulo. The object of both organisations was to organise the women of Santos and São Paulo into a movement for human emancipation that would look beyond simple electoral goals, since in those days many women saw the most important goal as winning female suffrage.310774

In February 1923 she launched the monthly review Renascença which made no bones about spreading libertarian feminist ideas and dealing with other social issues. This review was circulated in nine states of Brazil as well as in Argentina and Portugal. The following year she issued her most famous book Is Woman Degenerate? by way of an outraged retort to the thesis ‘Epilepsy and pseudo-epilepsy’ written by the psychiatrist Miguel Bombarda in which he tried to show through pseudo-scientific case studies that woman was man’s biological inferior. In 1926 she issued another class work: The Religion of Love and Beauty.

In 1927 she parted from her husband Carlos once and for all, although they remained on very amicable terms. Due to her great popularity in countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Mexico she was invited to give talks in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Santiago. On her return she carried on with her activities as a libertarian propagandist in São Paulo until she moved in 1928 to Guararema in the interior of São Paulo state where she lived on a farm belonging to a commune that included the Italian anarchist Artur Campagnoli.10299931_639304716197308_2919618487874146417_n

The commune was made up of Italian, Spanish and French conscientious objectors to the Great War who intended to live together in harmony in an egalitarian libertarian arrangement whilst offering peaceful resistance to all forms of violence. During Maria’s time on the farm, she set up a school for the commune’s peasants and after that bought some land nearby where she built a modest home and schoolroom. All without giving up on her writing activity: in 1931 she issued two more books, Clergy and State and Civilisation – Body of Slaves. In 1932 she published yet another outstanding book, Love … and Do Not Multiply.1

In 1934 suffering from severe rheumatism she was forced to quit her home in Guararema to move into Rio de Janeiro where, although greatly weakened, she carried on writing for the local press and giving talks to labour circles. In 1935, under pressure from the repression emanating from the dictatorial Getúlio Vargas government she returned to Barbacena with the intention of ending her days there with her mother. But she was barred from teaching in the public school system by the authorities who regarded her as a ‘dangerous communist’.libertação

So, in 1937, she returned to Rio de Janeiro where she was obliged to work hard just to survive. In 1938 she moved to the Ilha do Governador meaning to give more lectures on education and libertarian subjects. In 1940 she published her last book, a handbook entitled Portuguese for Commercial Courses, in which, among other things, she included an essay by José Oiticica on ‘Style’.

In September 1944 her mother died and in December she moved back to Rio de Janeiro once and for all. Maria Lacerda de Moura died on 20 March 1944, aged not quite 58. Her funeral was a modest affair with no wreaths and only a few flowers. Among the labour papers she wrote for were O Culinário Paulista, A Patrulha Operária, A Plebe, A Lanterna and O Trabalhador Gráfico.

Among her closest friends were the anarchists Rodolfo Felipe, Angelo Guido, José Oiticica, Osvaldo José Salgueiro and Diamantino Augusto. Maria Lacerda de Moura led an intense life questing after genuine social equality: she was the first Brazilian feminist to express her thoughts in newspaper, review and book form. In Brazil she pioneered the spread of a stand against fascism and campaigned against experiments on animals.CARTAZ-MARIA-LACERDA-RENOVACAO-OK

Her work reached out to the continents of America and Europe and yet her output and her story are glossed over and maliciously ignored by contemporary historians. All because in her life pride of place was given to honesty in that she had no interest in the party political game. Maria Lacerda de Moura was a real revolutionary in the full sense of the word. An exemplary woman whom today’s reformist feminists would rather forget.

From: Singularidades (Lisbon, No 16, November 2000) . Translated by: Paul Sharkey.



em portugués

Formou-se na Escola Normal de Barbacena e trabalhou como educadora, adotando a pedagogia de Francisco Ferrer e lecionando em Escolas Modernas. Em 1920, no Rio de Janeiro, fundou a Liga para a Emancipação Intelectual da Mulher, que combateria a favor do sufrágio feminino. Após mudar-se para São Paulo em 1921, se tornou ativa colaboradora da imprensa operária, publicando em jornais como A Plebe e O Combate. Em 1923, desagradou outros anarquistas por se referir positivamente às reformas educacionais promovidas pelos bolcheviques na URSS, mesmo após a perseguição política que os anarquistas russos sofreram durante e após a Revolução Russa de 1917 ter se tornado pública. Entretanto, também recusou convites para ingressar no recém-formado Partido Comunista do Brasil. Entre 1928 e 1937, viveu numa comunidade agrícola autogestionária em Guararema, formada principalmente por anarquistas e desertores espanhóis, franceses e italianos da Primeira Guerra Mundial, “livre de escolas, livre de igrejas, livre de dogmas, livre de academias, livre de muletas, livre de prejuízos governamentais, religiosos e sociais”. A repressão política durante o governo de Getúlio Vargasforçou a comunidade a se desfazer, levando-a a fugir para o Rio de Janeiro, onde trabalhou na Rádio Mayrink Veiga lendo horóscopos. Fez parte da maçonaria e da Rosa Cruz, mas se distanciou desta publicamente, após saber que sua sede em Berlim havia sido cedida aos nazistas, e desautorizou seu filho adotivo a reconhecê-la, após este ter se associado aos integralistas. Sua última conferência (O Silêncio) foi realizada no Centro Rosa Cruz, ao qual voltou a se ligar ao final de sua vida. Além de pacifista, foi também vegetariana1 e antivivisseccionista2 .13805-MLB154911952_4870-Y


Dentre seus vários livros se destacam:
  • Em torno da Educação
  • Renovação
  • A fraternidade na escola (1922)
  • A mulher hodierna e o seu papel na sociedade (1923)
  • A mulher é uma degenerada? (1924)
  • Lições da Pedagogia (1925)
  • Religião do amor e da beleza (1926)
  • De Amundsen a Del Prete (1928)
  • Civilização, tronco de escravos (1931)
  • Amai-vos e não vos multipliqueis (1932)
  • Serviço militar obrigatório para a mulher? Recuso-me… (1933)
  • Han Ryner e o amor no plural (1933)
  • Clero e Fascismo, horda de embrutecedores (1933)
  • Fascismo – filho dileto da Igreja e do Capital (1933)
  • Português para os cursos comerciais (1940)
  • O Silêncio (1944)mulheres-anarquistas-o-resgate-de-uma-histria-pouco-contada-2-638


Maria Lacerda de Moura é considerada uma das pioneiras do feminismo em Brasil, e certamente foi uma das poucas que observaram a condição feminina dentro da perspectiva da luta de classes. Anticlerical, escreveu numerosos artigos e livros criticando tenazmente a moral sexual burguesa, denunciando a opressão exercida sobre todas mulheres, e em especial as das camadas mais pobres. Entre os temas eleitos pela escritora, nós encontramos a educação sexual dos jovens, a virgindade, o amor livre, o direito ao prazer sexual, o divórcio, a maternidade consciente e a prostituição, assuntos considerados tabu naquela época. Seus artigos foram publicados na imprensa brasileira, uruguaia, argentina e espanhola. A autora fundou também a revista Renascença, cujo foco foi a formação intelectual e moral das mulheres.10250332_703485283061855_3805483271342588773_n

Em seu livro “Religião do amor e da beleza”, Maria Lacerda de Moura defende o amor livre. Para ela, o amor só seria livre quando as mulheres não fossem mais compelidas aos braços dos homens por estarem submetidas a constrangimentos financeiros (seja pelo casamento, pela prostituição ou pela “escravidão do salário“), nem estivesse atada a preconceitos religiosos de qualquer natureza. A autora também procura diferenciar sua concepção de amor livre daquela defendida por pensadores como Émile Armand.


 Maria Lacerda de Moura

 en Castellano200px-Mlacerda
Archivo:M lacerda moura.jpg

Maria Lacerda de Moura

Feminista libertaria, escritora polémica, oradora prestigiosa, Maria Lacerda de Moura fue una activista de los medios políticos, literarios y culturales brasileños, de las primeras décadas del siglo XX.
Nació en Minas Gerais el 16 de mayo 1897, se licenció en la Escuela Normal de Barbacena en 1904, se interesó por las ideas anticlericales y pedagógicas de los anarquistas, especialmente de Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, fusilado por el gobierno español en 1909.
Maria Lacerda escribió numerosos artículos y libros criticando con acerbo a la moral sexual burguesa, denunciando la opresión sexista ejercida sobre las mujeres, ricas o pobres.

Entre los temas elegidos por la escritora, nos encontramos la educación sexual de las jóvenes, la virginidad, el amor libre, el derecho al placer sexual, el divorcio, la maternidad consciente y la prostitución, asuntos poco discutidos por las mujeres de su época.images

Publicó articulos en varios periódicos, sobretodo en la prensa anarquista brasileña, argentina y española y lanzó en 1923 la revista Renascença, especializada en las cuestiones sobre la formación intelectual y moral de las mujeres. Del mismo modo, publicó varios ensayos, algunos de los cuales:

Em torno da educação (1918); A mulher moderna e o seu papel na sociedade atual (1923); Religião do Amor e da Beleza (1926); Han Ryner e o amor plural (1928); Amai e não vos multipliqueis (1932); A mulher é uma degenerada ? (1932) et Fascismo: filho dileto da Igreja e do Capital(s/d).
Maria de Lacerda Moura es considerada una de las pioneras del feminismo en Brasil, fundó en 1921 la Federacion Internacional Feminista.maria-lacerda-moura
Anarco-feminista, también se unió a los movimientos obreros y sindicales de su época. Entre 1928 y 1937, esta activista libertaria formó parte de una comunidad en Guararema, SP, correspondiente al periodo más intenso de su actividad intelectual. Describió la experiencia de esa época de este modo «libre de escuelas, libre de iglesias, libre de dogmas, libre de academias, libre de muletas, libre de prejuicios gubernamentales, religiosos y sociales.»
Maria Lacerda de Moura murió en 1945, en Rio de Janeiro.

Related Posts

Author: thefreeonline

The Free is a book and a blog. Download free E/book ...”the most detailed fictional treatment of the movement from a world recognizably like our own to an anarchist society that I have read...

7 thoughts on “Brazilian Anarcha Feminist Revolutionary: Maria Lacerda de Moura, 1887-1944”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: