Exiles, Allies, Rebels: Brazil's Indianist Movement, Indigenist Politics, and the Imperial Nation-State

Exiles, Allies, Rebels: Brazil's Indianist Movement, Indigenist Politics, and the Imperial Nation-State

Exiles, Allies, Rebels: Brazil's Indianist Movement, Indigenist Politics, and the Imperial Nation-State

Exiles, Allies, Rebels: Brazil's Indianist Movement, Indigenist Politics, and the Imperial Nation-State

Synopsis

This is the first global study of the single most important intellectual and artistic movement in Brazilian cultural history before Modernism. The Indianist movement, under the direct patronage of the Emperor Pedro II, was a major pillar of the Empire's project of state-building, involving historians, poets, playwrights and novelists in the production of a large body of work extending over most of the nineteenth century. Tracing the parallel history of official indigenist policy and Indianist writing, Treece reveals the central role of the Indian in constructing the self-image of state and society under Empire. He aims to historicize the movement, examining it as a literary phenomenon, both with its own invented traditions and myths, and standing at the interfaces between culture and politics, between the Indian as imaginary and real.

Excerpt

The argument of this book rests on a paradox. During the four centuries between Brazil's conquest in 1500 and the beginning of republican rule, the indigenous tribal population of the territory suffered a destructive process of genocidal pro- portions, falling from some 5 million or more to 100,000 by the turn of the twentieth century. This fact, however, stands in stark contradiction to the Indians' place within the nationalist tradition of thinking in Brazil, whose integrationist mythology has repeatedly invoked their assimilation into the dominant society as the touchstone for a history of bloodless political, social, and economic integration. The concepts of "racial democracy" and "luso-tropicalism," the neocolonialist ideologies of Getúlio Vargas's "March to the West" and of the fascist Integralist movement, indeed, the entire notion of a uniquely Brazilian political culture of "conciliation," have all drawn heavily on the myth of an assimilated indigenous identity as the ethnic cornerstone of Brazil's cultural self-image, the symbolic cement of a process of cordial social and racial collaboration in the building of the nation.

As the latest phase in the integration of territories, markets, and labor was unleashed in Amazonia by Brazil's post-1964 military regime, the Indians' pivotal role in legitimating this process was reasserted by the state indigenist agency, FUNAI, whose second president, Costa Cavalcanti, announced in 1969: "We do not want a marginalized Indian, what we want is a producing Indian, one integrated into the process of national development." Indeed, it was precisely on the assumption of a convergence of interests, Indian and non-Indian, in Brazil's history of national integration, that in 1970 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) commissioned anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro to write a celebratory account of the incorporation of the indigenous communities into the wider society. However, the result of Ribeiro's . . .

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