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Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil: 1500–1600

ALIDA C. METCALF
Copyright Date: 2005
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/709706
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  • Book Info
    Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil
    Book Description:

    Doña Marina (La Malinche) ...Pocahontas ...Sacagawea-their names live on in historical memory because these women bridged the indigenous American and European worlds, opening the way for the cultural encounters, collisions, and fusions that shaped the social and even physical landscape of the modern Americas. But these famous individuals were only a few of the many thousands of people who, intentionally or otherwise, served as "go-betweens" as Europeans explored and colonized the New World.

    In this innovative history, Alida Metcalf thoroughly investigates the many roles played by go-betweens in the colonization of sixteenth-century Brazil. She finds that many individuals created physical links among Europe, Africa, and Brazil-explorers, traders, settlers, and slaves circulated goods, plants, animals, and diseases. Intercultural liaisons produced mixed-race children. At the cultural level, Jesuit priests and African slaves infused native Brazilian traditions with their own religious practices, while translators became influential go-betweens, negotiating the terms of trade, interaction, and exchange. Most powerful of all, as Metcalf shows, were those go-betweens who interpreted or represented new lands and peoples through writings, maps, religion, and the oral tradition. Metcalf's convincing demonstration that colonization is always mediated by third parties has relevance far beyond the Brazilian case, even as it opens a revealing new window on the first century of Brazilian history.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79622-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A Note on Spelling and Citation
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1. Go-betweens
    (pp. 1-16)

    In the first years of the seventeenth century, the French Jesuit historian Pierre du Jarric introduces an Indian woman living in Brazil in his history of the “most memorable things” in the lands “discovered by the Portuguese.” Leaving her unnamed, Jarric identifies her as a member of the Aimoré, an indigenous group greatly feared by colonists living in Salvador, Brazil’s capital. Jarric explains that she no longer lived with the Aimoré but on the estate of a prominent colonist who lived outside of Salvador, where the woman had become “domesticated” in the ways of the Portuguese and had learned their...

  6. 2. Encounter
    (pp. 17-54)

    It is tempting to see a single day, 23 April 1500, when the Portuguese admiral Pedro Álvares Cabral anchored his fleet of twelve ships off the coast of Brazil, as the beginning. Because his destination was India, Cabral remained in Brazil for only ten days, yet those few days in April and May marked the official Portuguese discovery of Brazil. Every recorded event and observation, therefore, is important and worthy of the attention of historians. But on closer inspection, what stands out in the surviving accounts is the calculated and restrained behavior of the Portuguese. Not only were they not...

  7. 3. Possession
    (pp. 55-88)

    The magnificent Reinel Map of Brazil (1519) proudly declares the Portuguese claim to Brazil (Map 3.1). Offshore ride two beautifully drawn Portuguese naus, the large oceangoing ships that by 1519 sailed regularly to India, each marked with the bold red crosses that symbolized the Portuguese Order of Christ, which since the days of Prince Henry the Navigator had financed and benefited from overseas trade and exploration. Between two Portuguese flags marking the northern and southern limits of Brazil, a detailed and accurately drawn coastline names more than one hundred bays, inlets, and rivers, reflecting the work of Portuguese mariners and...

  8. 4. Conversion
    (pp. 89-118)

    In 1549, a new and very different kind of go-between appeared on the scene in Brazil: the missionary priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus.¹ At first glance, the Jesuits hardly seem to resemble the go-betweens of the Portuguese maritime world, most of whom rarely chose their role; rather, as survivors of shipwrecks or as degredados, they found themselves with the stark choice of adapting or dying. The bachelor of Cananéia, João Ramalho, or Diogo Álvares “Caramuru” had begun as simple physical go-betweens but had parlayed their social position and linguistic ability into effective new roles for themselves as...

  9. 5. Biology
    (pp. 119-156)

    When José de Anchieta wrote the long letter about his residence as a hostage among the Tupinambá, he quoted Chief Pindobuçu, preaching through the village:

    If we are afraid of our shaman, how much more should we fear these [Jesuit] priests . . . because they have the power to bring to us the dysentery, cough, headache, fevers, and other sicknesses from which we die!¹

    As remembered and recorded by Anchieta, Chief Pindobuçu spoke these words to impress upon his villagers the power of the Jesuits, but in so doing, Pindobuçu identified one of the most powerful and devastating roles...

  10. 6. Slavery
    (pp. 157-194)

    When Pero de Magalhães Gandavo returned to Portugal from Brazil in the 1570s, he wrote two accounts about life there, becoming a new kind of representational go-between, one who reflected the perspective of Portuguese colonists. In a treatise presented to King Sebastião and Sebastião’s uncle, Dom Henrique (known in English as Cardinal Prince Henry), he proclaims that as soon as a colonist arrives in Brazil, no matter how poor he may be, if he obtains slaves, “he then has the means for sustenance; because some [slaves] fish and hunt, and the others produce for him maintenance and crops; and so...

  11. 7. Resistance
    (pp. 195-234)

    In 1585, rumors of a new prophet in the sertão spread through the parishes and sugar plantations of the Bay of All Saints. Coming on the heels of an epidemic of measles, described as the “most cruel illness ever seen in Bahia,” and in the midst of repeated entradas into the sertão to descend thousands of new Indians to the decimated slave houses on the coastal sugar plantations, the rumors gave hope to scores of slaves, especially to Indians but also to Africans. For this movement’s leader, known as “Pope” to his followers, preached that “God was coming now to...

  12. 8. Power
    (pp. 235-274)

    On 28 July 1591, an elaborate procession and mass honored the first inquisitor to set foot in Brazil, Heitor Furtado de Mendonça. The pomp and ceremony of the occasion underscored that Salvador was more than just a harbor on the Bay of All Saints; it was the capital of Portuguese Brazil. Important institutions of Portuguese society and polity had been transplanted successfully to the colony, and the procession and mass symbolized the growing influence of Portuguese culture. As an official of the Holy Office of the Lisbon Inquisition, the very presence of an inquisitor in Brazil established that henceforth obedience...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 275-334)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 335-362)
  15. Index
    (pp. 363-376)