In the late nineteenth century, the Brazilian army staged several campaigns against the settlement of Canudos in northeastern Brazil. The colony's residents followed Antonio Conselheiro, who promoted a communal existence free from taxes and oppression. Estimates of the death toll range from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand.
"Sentencing Canudos" offers an original perspective on the hegemonic intellectual discourse surrounding this event. In her study, Johnson views the process of nation building and the silencing of "other" voices through the reinvisioning of history. Looking primarily to Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertoes, she maintains that the events and people of Canudos have been "sentenced" to history by this work.