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Mongrel complex

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Mongrel complex" (Portuguese: complexo de vira-lata, literal meaning: street dog complex) is an expression used to refer to a collective inferiority complex reportedly felt by many Brazilians when comparing Brazil and its culture to other parts of the world, primarily the developed world (such as Europe or North America), as the reference to a "mongrel" carries negative connotations attributed to the perception of most Brazilians being racially mixed as well as lacking in desirable cultural refinement.

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It was originally coined by novelist and writer Nelson Rodrigues, in which originally he referred to the trauma suffered by Brazilians in 1950 when the national football team was defeated by Uruguay's national team in the last match of the 1950 World Cup, which was held at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. The estimated 200,000 spectators at the stadium that day were stunned into an eerie silence after the match was concluded, some so apparently distraught they committed suicide by jumping out of the stands. Brazil would recover in 1958 when it won the World Cup for the first of five times,[1] but the idea persisted afterwards, cropping up again the next time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 when it was defeated in the semifinal match against Germany by a score of 7–1.

For Rodrigues, the phenomenon was not exclusively related to sport. According to him:[2]

By "Mongrel Complex" I mean the inferiority in which Brazilians put themselves, voluntarily, in comparison to the rest of the world. Brazilians are the reverse Narcissus, who spit in their own image. Here is the truth: we can't find personal or historical pretexts for self-esteem.

The expression "mongrel complex" was rediscovered in 2004 by American journalist Larry Rohter. In an article for The New York Times about the Brazilian nuclear program, he wrote:

Writing in the 1950s, the playwright Nelson Rodrigues saw his countrymen as afflicted with a sense of inferiority, and he coined a phrase that Brazilians now use to describe it: "the mongrel complex". Brazil has always aspired to be taken seriously as a world power by the heavyweights, and so it pains Brazilians that world leaders could confuse their country with Bolivia, as Ronald Reagan once did, or dismiss a nation so large – it has 180 million people – as "not a serious country", as Charles de Gaulle did.[3]

— Larry Rohter

See also


  1. ^ A pátria em chuteiras de Nélson Rodrigues por Fernando Bandini. Em Com Ciência – SBPC/Labjor. Visited in 16 November 2007.
  2. ^ Humberto Mariotti. "O Complexo de Inferioridade do Brasileiro". Instituto de Pesquisa BSP. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ^ If Brazil Wants to Scare the World, It's Succeeding". The New York Times. Visited in 16-11-2007.
This page was last edited on 1 November 2020, at 20:14
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