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Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais

Print version ISSN 0102-6909

Rev. bras. ciênc. soc. vol.5 São Paulo  2010


Nature and society: conflicts concerning landscape cultivation at Itambacuri1


Natureza e sociedade: disputas em torno do cultivo da paisagem em Itambacuri


Nature et société: disputes autour de la culture du paysage à Itambacuri



Marta Amoroso

Translated by Bruna Cigaran da Rocha
Translation from Rev. bras. Ci. Soc., vol.24 no.71, São Paulo, Oct. 2009.




Este artigo focaliza as controvérsias que se seguem à fundação do aldeamento indígena de Itambacuri (1883-1893), Minas Gerais, em torno das formas de ocupação dos "terrenos ubérrimos", expressão que os missionários capuchinhos utilizavam ao se referirem ao território dos grupos Jê, habitantes da Mata Atlântica que margeava o rio Doce e o Mucuri. O acontecimento da criação do aldeamento indígena e os agenciamentos que dele decorreram, envolvendo grupos indígenas, imigrantes e migrantes nordestinos, oferecem oportunidade para um exercício de antropologia simétrica aplicado tanto ao tema das condições de produção do conhecimento da história natural, como ao debate que então se estabeleceu entre ciência e religião.

Palavras-chave: Antropologia simétrica; Botocudo; Mata Atlântica; Naturalistas; Missionários capuchinhos.


We examine the controversy after the foundation of the Indigene settlement of Itambacuri, Minas Gerais (18831893) on the ways of occupation of the "terrenos ubérrimos" (fertile terrains), an expression used by Capuchin missionaries to describe territories belonging to Jê groups inhabitants of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest bordering the Rivers Doce and Mucuri. Paying special attention to the way how it was created at Itambacuri what here we see as a contest between different programs of cultivate of the landscape. (T. Ingold, 2000). The creation of the Indigene settlement and the assemblages produced, including Indian groups, immigrants and migrants from Brazilian Northeast offer us an opportunity for an Symmetrical Anthropology exercise (Bruno Latour, 1991; Isabelle Stengers, 2002) applied both to the issue of the conditions of producing knowledge about Natural History as to the debate settled at that time between Science and Religion.

Keywords: Symmetrical anthropology; Botocudo; Brazilian Atlantic Forest; Naturalists; Capuchin missionaries.


Cet article a pour thème central les controverses qui se sont suivies à la fondation de la tribu d'indiens de Itambacuri (1883-1893), dans l'État de Minas Gerais, à propos des formes d'occupation des "terrenos ubérrimos" (terrains très fertiles), expression que les missionnaires capucins employaient en se référant au territoire des groupes d'indiens Jê, habitants de la Forêt Atlantique (Mata Atlântica) qui cotoyait les fleuves Doce et Mucuri. L'événement de la création de la tribu d'indiens et les négociations qui en découlaient incluant des groupes d'indiens, des immigrants et des migrants nordestins, offrent l'opportunité d'un exercice d'anthropologie symétrique appliqué aussi bien au thème des conditions de production du savoir à propos de l'histoire naturelle que du débat qui s'est établit entre la science et la religion.

Mots-clés: Anthropologie symétrique; indien Botocudo; Forêt Atlantique brésilienne (Mata Atlântica); Naturalistes; Missionnaires capucins.



Covered by spectacular vegetation, the grand park seemed a forest, whose promiscuous specimens were not indicated by a plaque, label, or even a simple sign to make them known. It was all very agreeable to the eye; yet, in scientific terms, in deplorable condition. This was declared by a commission nominated by the government, preceding my appointment.

João Barbosa Rodrigues, 1921-1922



This essay considers a still generally intact stretch of Atlantic rainforest, home to past (and present) Jê populations, which was a point of departure for naturalist expeditions that were converging in Brazil, headed for the frontier regions of the provinces of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Bahia during the First Reign (1822-1831) of the Empire of Brazil. The epigraph cited above, by João Barbosa Rodrigues, describes the state of the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro almost a century after their creation in 1808, and serves as a guide to the botanical gardens imagined by travellers of the period of Dom João (King John VI of Portugal): a small sample of original Atlantic rainforest and the promise held by a science in the making. The aim of this paper is initially to trace the emergence of botanical gardens created in an area of pleasant climate and exuberant virgin forest and to observe the conditions for the production of the politico-scientific treaties, made possible by the scientific expeditions. This exercise allows us to contemplate Natural Science in action; the concept of Botanical Gardens in connection with the production of scientific knowledge in the nineteenth century surpasses that of a space intended for the artificial reproduction of flora and fauna species within the institutions of large cities. Rather, it leads us to the scientific expeditions to the tropical forests. The techniques and practices that permitted the naturalists' expeditions (which aimed at preparing natural history collections), the contact between scientists and technicians, and the construction and exchange of consensuses among specialists, at a period in which natural history museums in Brazil found themselves in a preliminary phase of institutionalisation - bearing in mind that these were spaces where modern science was being produced and where nature and society were jointly described - are all associated by us to botanical gardens.i

The article first examines the conditions under which knowledge of Natural History practiced in Brazil was produced by European scientists during the first half of the nineteenth century. We focus upon the group of naturalists who frequented the Fazenda da Mandioca, the rural estate that belonged to the Russian Consul in Brazil, G.I. Langsdorff. In this analysis, Langsdorff's farm (fazenda) is regarded as a scientific laboratory where debates and certain consensuses emerged on nature and the native populations of the Americas, as well as on the conditions of adaptability of European settlers, during a previously unheard-of - and in some cases, as yet unequalled - endeavour to classify the non-human flora and fauna resources of the Atlantic rainforest.

The second part of this paper concentrates on the scenario composed by the aldeamentos indígenas and immigrant settlement colonies established in the 1840s in the region discussed here.2 We are especially interested in following on what terms, at that particular moment, and speaking directly from the location in question, were notions of Nature and Society, mobilised for the project of construction and maintenance of the aldeamentos, formulated.


Guido Marlière's malaise

We begin our journey with the account produced by Guido Marlière's own hand. A French soldier who became a naturalised Brazilian, Marlière was assigned to Minas Gerais in the service of the Portuguese Imperial Government soon after the arrival of the Portuguese Court in Brazil, graduating as an officer. His narrative provides a point of convergence for different inscriptions concerned with relations between Nature and Society in the first half of the nineteenth century. His account stands closest to the populations identified as Botocudo by the Royal Letter of 1808, which declared war on the Jê populations in the areas of the Campos de Guarapuava and Goitacases, as well as to the scientific journeys which followed the Declaration of the United Kingdom of Brazil, Portugal and the Algarves (1816). Marlière closely followed the missionary practices of the Capuchins who operated between Coroados and Puri to the north of Rio de Janeiro province.ii In similar fashion, through the French officer's narrative, we are afforded a glimpse of the arrival of the first naturalist expeditions to the Campos de Goitacases, their meticulously accurate descriptions, the demands upon science practiced in the field; at the time, this made Marlière an important source of reference for naturalists of different European nations who frequented the Atlantic rainforest during the period, as they resorted to him to check data collected on local populations, fauna and flora.iii

Shortly before being appointed Director General of the Indians in the Captaincy of Minas Gerais in the 1820s, Guido Marlière realised the questionable state of modernity in his time, when the practice of hunting indians ("like leopards", he noted in a passage) was still encouraged along the Doce and Mucuri Rivers, as it was on the Jequitinhonha, further to the north of the province. The practice was justified by the native population's paganism:

The indians had a court [the Military Junta for Conquest and Civilisation of the Indians of the Province of Minas Gerais] that protected them, [but] this court perished; the indians are in a state of abandonment, killed, persecuted and robbed of some of their lands; the aggressors excuse themselves saying they are not baptised, and this in the nineteenth century!! (Marlière 1904 [1824]).

Sharing this condition of estrangement with Marlière helps us to situate ourselves in debates that involved European naturalists, members of the military and Catholic missionaries throughout the nineteenth century, and focussed on the Atlantic rainforest and native populations, as advocated by the Natural History of the time.  In 1824, the Frenchman took charge as Director of the Indians. He brought to this position his previous experience of Inspector of Military Divisions of the province and knowledge gained through his intense experience with the Botocudo and the Puri of the region of the Doce river, where he also maintained a rural property, the Fazenda Guidowald, where he always counted on the waged labour of the Botocudo indians. This sort of patronal friendship that brought him nearer to the Botocudo at Guidowald Farm allowed Marlière to have his name recorded in the annals of Minas Gerais, as pacifier of the Puri of the Serra da Onça. The Puri were considered sorcerers by the Botocudo who lived at Marlière's farm, and were to receive the sort of treatment dispensed to enemies of the Crown: a common form of negotiation in the Colony, whereby, to further its strategic interests, the State took advantage of native disputes and resultant warring actions against adversaries.iv

As Director of the Indians, Marlière sought to supply the Catholic missionaries with officers who spoke indigenous languages to operate in the region. In this (and only in this) sense, Marlière praised the Jesuit mission of the Colonial period, recognising that the Jesuits knew the value of systematic study of indigenous languages, which had benefitted their enterprise of bringing the indians into aldeamentos; this was different from the national clergy, perceived by Marlière as a segment entirely contaminated by popular aversion to the indian.

Moreover, the system for managing indigenous populations proposed by Marlière was diametrically opposed to that of the Jesuits. According to the officer, the Jesuits "tried breeding frogs at the edge of the lake", an expression he adopted to criticise a model he considered to be too open, giving the indians the opportunity to evade the Catholic mission. The mineiro system put forward by Guido Marlière consisted of a qualified approach to the indians, through translators who mastered the languages, with the identification and differential treatment of chiefs, as well as making plots of land available, supplying tools, etc. The rivers, he said, enabled civilisation to move downstream to the coast, stopping the native populations reaching it in their flight to the hinterlands. Contrary to the Jesuits' program, Marlière wanted the indians close by, working on the plantations and on river navigation. His practice of this sort of patronage relationship would later inspire the lay indigenism of the Republican State, for which the French oficer would figure as an icon of "lay catechism" (Amoroso 2003).

In this way we can consider that the mineiro system as defined by Marlière made reference to more than a policy of containment of the indians by the Empire; it alluded to native populations of the Atlantic rainforest who, despite recent wars undertaken against them and the growing militarisation of the region, retained a certain amount of freedom and domination of their history in relation to the landscape. Marlière witnessed a period of cohabitation with Jê groups and warriors who circulated between provincial borders and took refuge in the still largely untouched Atlantic rainforest, without giving up their plots of land, the tools and the strategic support brought by the Empire's apparatus. In 1824, Marlière advised the provincial government of Minas Gerais, interested in the results achieved in containing the Botocudo, that: 

The wish, however, to house them at a fixed domain would prove a chimera, which will not be fulfilled, and nor do I see an instance of this with the Coroados and Campos who are being civilised since 1767. Each family lives separate from the others and their nation gathers on festive days at the village or chapel where they receive some instruction from the ministers and it would be prudent for us to follow this rule in future for the Christianisation of the Botocudos (Marlière 1904 [1824], 506).

We shall now see that the particularity of relations between native populations and the Atlantic rainforest described by Marlière was also opened up to scientific observation by European travellers and was recorded by Natural History.


From the Andes and the Amazon to the Minas Gerais Botocudo cranium

Three years after arriving in Brazil, G.I. Langsdorff bought a farm in the province of Rio de Janeiro. It was called Mandioca (manioc). It had a two-storey main house, houses that were let to travellers and several other annexes; a plantation with thirty to forty thousand coffee trees, manioc and corn plantations, thirty six slaves; all of this gave the impression of it being a typical Brazilian farm of the period…The wonderful botanical garden, the library which, according to contemporaries, was composed of ‘books selected belonging to all branches of science,' the diversified scientific collections, apart from the possibility of receiving advice, turned Mandioca and the scientist's house in Rio de Janeiro into locations frequented by foreign travellers. There they could meet with members of the capital's intelligentsia, local artists or Russian sailors. Without a doubt, it was a cultural centre in Brazil at the time. (Komissarov 1981, 25-26).

We now go on to observe the organisation of scientific expeditions and call attention to the specific ensemble of European nations engaged: France at the time of the Restoration of the Monarchy, and the countries of the Holy Alliance - Austria, Russia and Prussia -; in other words, precisely the group of nations that had begun supplying the first groups of immigrant settlers to Brazil.v We will regard the naturalists' travels through the Atlantic rainforest as the botanical garden fieldwork practices, which resulted in the mounting and gathering of collections in loco, from both native informants and adapted European settlers, permitting us to accompany science in action during the first half of the nineteenth century. This was the model of scientific practice that would serve as inspiration for the descriptions of tropical Amazonian forest made in the following period.

Let us observe the group of Europeans that frequents the installations of the Fazenda da Mandioca, in the Serra da Estrela ("Estrela mountain range") in Rio de Janeiro province, during the first decades of the nineteenth century. Led by Count Langsdorff (naturalist, Russian Consul in Brazil, and manager of the enterprise), the group counted on other illustrious scientists such as Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, Prince Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied, J. Baptista Spix, Karl Friedrich von Martius and J. Emanuel Pohl, all interested in producing studies on Brazilian nature and population, inspired by Alexander von Humboldt's (1769-1859) reading of cosmology and anatomist J.F. Blumenbach's (1752-1840) physical anthropology.

Humboldt had known and described the Andes and the Spanish Amazon as a result of journeys through South and Central America, which took place between 1799 and 1804. However, when he declared his intention to pursue his research along the course of the Amazon River, the Portuguese authorities stopped him. There is thus a strong sense of continuity, noted already by commentators, between the German, Swiss and Austrian scientists' project and the theses and work programs of the author of Kosmos.

Besides the scientists, already in the 1820s, we encounter about a hundred Swiss and German settlers occupying the houses next to Langsdorff's Fazenda da Mandioca. They belonged to different professions and were introduced to Brazil at the same time by the Russian Consul, who employed them on his plantations and in the small soap manufacturing works he maintained there.

For the time being, let us leave Blumenbach, his work, the comparative craniometry research underway at his Göttingen office and the impact of this study upon part of the scientists who toured the Brazilian Atlantic Let us focus upon the themes that emerged from the Botanical Gardens that the Fazenda da Mandioca had become, where, amid meticulous and systematic observation of the fauna and flora, the description of the native populations of the Americas was accomplished by utilizing the comparative method that observed Andean and Amazonian civilisations in contrast to those of the Atlantic rainforest, and the adaptation of the first European settlers who began emigrating to Brazil was examined.vii

Thoughts on the Atlantic rainforest and its native populations were being processed in this shared environment, at the Fazenda da Mandioca, where methods and concepts were also exchanged between travellers and naturalists. It was there that expeditions were initially planned to the provinces lying north of Rio de Janeiro - Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Bahia -, and which would later head to Mato Grosso and Amazonia.viii

These spaces of scientific production had a common point of departure: Humboldt's theses on native Americans. Humboldt contrasted the native populations of the South American continent applying as a criterion the demonstrated degree of civilisation. He highlighted peoples judged to share a complex degree of civilisation, such as those from Peru and Mexico, who the naturalist was able to visit and describe, and compared them to the populations of South America's lowlands, who comprised a heterogeneous aggregation formed by populations of Tupi language speakers, considered to be at an incipient stage of civilisation, expressed by their domain of agriculture, passing by the Tapuias3 of "crabbed speech": populations from the hinterlands of Brazil, a subset identified as hunter-gatherers. Blumenbach's physical anthropology theses also kept the scientists at the Fazenda da Mandioca entertained, as did the certainties of craniometry and all it represented as a proposal for a comparative method.

In the Botanical Gardens dreamt of and put into practice in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest of the nineteenth century, the hopes and anxieties of the new times were also experienced by the scientists and the eclectic group of expatriate Europeans, composed of recent arrivals to South America, as well as by those who, still in Europe, hoped to emigrate to the new continent and sought answers to their restlessness in the natural history travel accounts. 

August de Saint-Hilaire frequented the Fazenda da Mandioca to such an extent he came to imagine what his own farm in the Atlantic rainforest, his own Botanical Gardens, would be like. On the banks of the Jequitinhonha, the French botanist dreamt of acquiring a farm and establishing himself there, cultivating a garden in English fashion, the sort obtained by opening trails through the forest. The farm would rely on enslaved African labour, but well cared for, and on indians, who would be attracted by the offer of gifts (Dean 1996, 158). Saint-Hilaire's dream, which we will return to, illustrates the construction of a Botanical Garden for the study of Natural History, where men were included in a republican regime made up of blacks and indians, segments incorporated by the naturalist-turned-farmer in the condition of manual workers in a slavery regime:

Setting eyes upon the Jequitinhonha, the dreams that nourished me in my first youth after reading S.J. de Crèvecoeur (Letters from an American Farmer) returned and displayed themselves before my imagination. I envisaged myself in possession of some leagues of land on the banks of the Jequitinhonha. I arrive with my faithful servant and some slaves. In haste, a shelter similar to those of the Botocudo is erected for the first night. In the beginning my existence is deprived of all the comforts of life; yet, the wish to enjoy them soon stimulates me to work. Some of the slaves are employed in felling trees where corn and cotton are to be planted for the following year; others work on building a hut… I introduce laws in my small republic; my blacks are well fed, well dressed, and small rewards propel them to work; good treatment, evidence of interest make their existence bearable, and make them love their master. All are wed, and they come to consider this place theirs and their children's homeland, and the house of their master as their own. Neither do I forget the indians. At first, I attract them to the surroundings of my residence with small presents. They become certain they will receive gifts every time they accomplish the smallest of services. Gradually I accustom them to work; soon they come to comprehend the advantages of cultivating the land. They settle close to my residence, become invaluable neighbours and I then complete their civilisation by turning them into Christians. These Botocudo, hardly any of them are anthropophagous, they come to my chapel to pray for their enemies and at last, their daughters know modesty (Saint-Hilaire 1975, 263).

Yet it was Prince Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied who perhaps best represented the place of the natural scientist in the New World and understood the possibilities presented by such a scenario. In the following passage, the Prince relinquishes himself to daydreams on the banks of the Taípe Lake, between Minas Gerais and Bahia, the naturalist's last stop before the return of his expedition to Germany. Mr. Weyl, a Dutch farmer who had recently purchased a property in the region (which in fact was a recently-abandoned Camacã aldeamento), was with him on the occasion:

The spectacle of this grand, majestic and wild nature will reward Mr. Weyl for his brave resolution in leaving his country to come and live only with his family in this remote corner. The cultured man will find entertainment and occupation in any place of the world; yet among all the classes, the greatest advantage befalls the naturalist: what immense field for observation, what infinite source of spiritual pleasure would not be provided to him by this solitary dwelling at the springs of the Taípe! (Wied-Neuwied 1989, 345).

Here we have the European naturalist, with his unrivalled capacity for observation and enjoyment of the pleasures of nature, and in the background, the European entrepreneur who acquired properties in Brazil and knew for sure, in his own way, how to enjoy nature. What spaces would the Camacã, Machacali, Nacnenuc, Krenac, Pojicha, Puri, Coroado and Botocudo occupy, all being inhabitants of the Atlantic rainforest, and contemporaries of the naturalists? We shall leave the answer suspended for the time being, and enter further into the Botanical Gardens of the Fazenda da Mandioca, to better acquaint ourselves with its owner.

G.I. Langsdorff (1774-1852) graduated in medicine in Germany at the end of the eighteenth century, at the University of Göttingen, where he met J. Blumenbach, who became his supervisor, and philologist and archaeologist C. Reine.ix In 1800, while living in Lisbon, Langsdorff published his studies on medicine in German and Portuguese, and began research in botany, ichthyology and entomology, allowing him to construct a network of European scientists (among them, August de Saint-Hilaire) fed by ample correspondence. In 1803 he became a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, communicating with it through writing, and so learned of the mounting of a Russian scientific expedition that would go around the world, to which he presented himself and attained the position of ichthyologist and mineralogist.

In 1804, we find Langsdorff on the Brazilian coast, writing about the island of Santa Catarina. Research trips follow to the United States, Alaska, Siberia and Japan. Between 1808 and 1812, Langsdorff remained in Russia, where he engaged in a vertiginous career rise, initially occupying the humble post of Assistant in Botany at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, then achieving fame in European circles after his publication, in Frankfurt, of the results of his botanical research undertaken in Kamtchatka, and finally establishing himself as Russian Consul in Rio de Janeiro. Thus, as the Portuguese Court declared Brazilian ports open - which from the perspective of the contemporary sciences meant the South American continent had at last unlocked itself to science -, Langsdorff had become a natural scientist, renowned traveller and member of the diplomatic corps resident in Brazil. As Consul, he was charged with observing the Brazilian market, since the country's Atlantic coast was an obligatory stopping point for the Russian fleet on the way to the Czar's possessions in North America.

In 1813 he arrived at Rio de Janeiro and in three years established himself on his landed estate, the Fazenda da Mandioca, on the Serra da Estrela. Interested in the new field of study that revealed itself in Brazil, Langsdorff maintained the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences informed about the Natural History research programs underway in Brazil; as it happened, a significant portion of the expeditions - those of W.L. von Eschwege, Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied, I. Franz Werner, the Austro-Hungarian expedition integrated by J.B. Spix, K.F. Martius, J.E. Pohl, J. Natterer, among others -, passed through his properties. He spent much time and worked with Saint-Hilaire, and in Minas Gerais met Guido Marlière.

Langsdorff went on holiday to Minas Gerais in 1816, and there he outlined plans for a great expedition to Brazil, which would keep Russia in the scientific race that had developed. Passing through Paris to renew contacts, he proceeded to Russia, where he had planned to raise funds for the expedition; he succeeded.

The Consul returned to Brazil in 1822, bringing with him a new body of scientists and painters: the French botanist E.P. Ménetriès and the Bavarian painter J.M. Rugendas, besides the group of Swiss and German immigrants who boarded the Doris with them, after taking up the Consul's offer of working on his properties. In Brazil, Ludwig Riedel, a former gardener in Lyon, Nester Gabrilovich Rubtsov, a junior officer of the Russian merchant navy, and Georg W. Freyreiss, whose abilities as a great hunter and naturalist would often be commended, joined the expedition. Freyreiss, who met Langsdorff in 1809, arrived in Brazil in 1814 and was part of the first group of naturalists and artists who frequented the Fazenda da Mandioca. His choices therefore illustrate a certain portrait of the practitioner in Natural History at this heroic juncture of the natural sciences. He would have the opportunity to accompany and collaborate as a collector in the different expeditions of naturalists, as well as supplying his own collections to museums in Germany, particularly after he decided to establish himself definitely at the Leopoldina Colony in the south of Bahia, where he spent the rest of his life among German settlers, until his death in 1825.

Blumenbach and Humboldt are fundamental sources for another of the Fazenda da Mandioca's members: Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied, Prince of the Royal House of the Rhineland, who cultivated the idea of an expedition to Brazil under Humboldt's influence. He met Humboldt in Paris in 1814, when the latter, recently returned from South America, was publicising his work in the City of Lights. Maximilian had enlisted in the Prussian army against Napoleon. During the time of his academic education he frequented the University of Göttingen, as Langsdorff had done, where he studied craniometry with Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, with whom he shared the theory of a common origin for the American man. He arrived in Brazil in 1815 and returned in 1817. In Rio de Janeiro he incorporated a pair of expeditionaries into his trip who never returned from Brazil; apart from G. Freyreiss, who went on to live at the Leopoldina Colony, there was F. Selow (1789-1831), a zoologist, botanist and artist, author of inspired portraits of the Botocudo produced in the field, and who drowned during one of the expeditions coordinated by Langsdorff.x

Maximilian published his Reise nach Brasilien in den Jahren 1815 bis 1817, ("Journey to Brazil in the years 1815 to 1817"), which was widely acclaimed in Europe as early as the 1820s (Rostworowski da Costa 2008). In Brazil, at least among German anthropologists or monarchists, acceptance of the Prince's book was slower, albeit positive: the anthropologist H. Baldus emphasised Maximilian's sensibility in "understanding of other cultural phenomena that, even in our days, is achieved by only a few" (Baldus 1954, 766), while Câmara Cascudo (1977) credited the Prince with the most thorough documentation on the Botocudo of the time, making use of intelligent and qualified observation.xi

Nevertheless, Maximilian's greatest triumph was undoubtedly to have presented to Blumenbach's office the cranium of a young Botocudo, recently interred in the proximities of the Salto barracks, on Belmonte River, in Minas Gerais. The anatomical piece, as Prince Maximilian describes it, was obtained personally by him. Armed with pick axes and a certain dose of courage, confronting local public opinion (constituted by the young man's relatives and soldiers of the detachment), he eventually managed to extract the famous cranium from its grave, hurrying to conserve it in order to make it the central element of his collection (Wied-Neuwied 1989, 262). The cranium would later be offered by the Prince to Blumenbach's office, providing an as yet unequalled opportunity to science in general and to his professor's bureau in particular.

The hope of obtaining a Botocudo cranium was another reason which made me spend another day there… A short distance from the houses, inside the forest, amid beautiful and flowering vegetation, a young Botocudo of twenty to thirty years of age had been buried, having been one of the most turbulent warriors of his tribe. Armed with pick axes we directed ourselves to the place of burial and removed the important cranium… In spite of my great care to keep secret my intention of opening the grave, the news soon spread through the barracks, generating strong feelings among those ignorant people. Impelled by curiosity, in spite of a secret terror, many approached the door of my room, wanting to see the head that I however hid immediately in my case, and sent off as soon as I could to the village of Belmonte. On the other hand, I was able to ascertain that the Botocudos, less shocked with the exhumation than the barrack's soldiers, nevertheless refused to watch it (1989, 262-263).

Maximilian, as is known, presented to the European courts and to the science of his time another young Botocudo, Quack - this one still alive -, who journeyed with him to Europe. The human cranium, the collection of cultural material, fauna and flora, as well as young Quack's presence, rendered a series of considerations that became established in the environment of European physical anthropology as developed by Blumenbach: physical anthropology would approximate the American man to the Malay type, the last of five categories introduced by the anthropologist in his comparative classification of human races. Considered "the German Buffon", Blumenbach adopted the thesis of monogeny, current in nineteenth century Biology, and situated his proposal for a typology of the human races as a degenerative process descended from one principal type (Greene 1959, 222-224).

Câmara Cascudo also credits Maximilian with overcoming the consensual opposition that began during the Colonial period and remained in place during the Brazilian Empire period, between the friendly and collaborative Tupis and the hostile, irreconcilable warriors and cannibalistic Tapuias, a mistaken approach that guided settlement and colonisation programs in Brazil. After living among the Botocudo in the military barracks of Minas Gerais and also in their villages, Maximilian approximated them to the Tupi described by the colonial chroniclers. Such an approximation in fact aimed at reducing the worth of the Tupi as objects of inquiry to the same low level as the Tapuia represented to the period's Natural History and Science: "The indigenous peoples of Brazil are as similar in terms of their moral characteristics as they are in terms of physical constitution. The grossest kind of sensuality dominates their intellectual faculties", Maximilian stated, although he emphasized that such attributes did not stop their capacity for sensible judgement and their discerning spirit. Further, they would be capable of imitating whites if placed in a convenient situation, but would not, however, be guided by any moral principle, being as they were, without social restraint, which allowed them to be led by their senses and instincts, "just as the leopard in the forests". Laziness and indolence would also be characteristic traits that made the Tupi similar to the Botocudo.

A second comparative extension outlined by Wied-Neuwied, still under Humboldt's influence, brought together the populations "of the North and of the South", that is, the Andean populations of the highlands and the populations of the South American lowlands; the Andean populations were described by Humboldt, while the indigenous peoples were visited and researched by Wied-Neuwied in Minas Gerais. In the face of these amplified comparative parameters, Maximilian reaffirmed that indigenous peoples throughout the American continent belonged to the same race. The macro-comparison proposed by Natural History for the whole South American continent in the nineteenth century made it possible to relate Atlantic rainforest populations - be they Botocudo or not - to Andean civilisation. The former, while belonging to the same race as the latter, was however seen as possessing a form of humanity much closer to that of animals, due to the brutality of its cultural and moral expressions (Wied-Neuwied 1989).

What had led the Prince to such conclusions? He, who only a moment ago had graced us with inspired pages on the exuberance of the domains of the Atlantic rainforest, shown to him by the Botocudo - his great partners in hunting and in the collection of flora and fauna species, who effectively enabled him to mount the innumerable collections that the Prince took to Europe. The determinants of race were certainly not to blame: Wied-Neuwied witnessed Quack's gradual whitening after a few European winters (1989, 323). Maximilian demanded from his brutish and friendly Botocudo the political capacity of organising themselves as leaders so as to in this way, control - just as the Andeans described by Humboldt did - vast domains, imposing upon them a culture worthy of admiration by any European. In Brazil, a land without monuments or hieroglyphic remains, and consequently without a vigorous culture, he would say, there was no evidence of political institutions such as the Andean chiefdoms:

…we cannot attribute the name of cacique to the chiefs of the Tapuias. This term carries a much higher meaning, and does not fit with the indigenous chiefs of Brazil, who are not objects of any particular veneration, and are not distinguished from the rest of the tribe in any way; to confer on them a decisive vote amongst the horde, there is no attribute of superiority to distinguish them, such as greater prudence, experience, or bravery. We should call the more advanced peoples of the New World, such as the Mexicans, Peruvians, and others, caciques, whose authority and power, oft unlimited, constituted a strong obstacle to the Spanish conquistadors (1989, 325).

The naturalist concluded:

How distant are they from them [the Andean caciques] the brutish inhabitants of the virgin forests of Brazil! Here reigns the same law as for the animals, and greater strength of limb is the only superiority recognised (1989, 325).

As I. Stengers (2002) recommends, perhaps we should smile at the end of the conclusion reached by the Prince in his "Journey to Brazil", in which the Botocudo are yet again condemned - this time by Science - for not possessing the institutions that would allow them to react adequately to colonial conquest, and more recently to the war started against them by the recently-arrived Portuguese Crown in Rio de Janeiro. Moved by news of the publication of von Eschwege's work, in which the mineralogist alludes to a sort of monarchy being constituted among the Botocudo, with a black king enthroned and governing the indians in the forests of the Doce and Jequitinhonha Rivers, Maximilian discounts this and other speculations by his naturalist colleague, demonstrating how the possibility of Botocudo political expression was distant: "The [indians] of Brazil, wearers of a Portuguese soldier's cap, have already lost their originality, little interest do they arouse" (1989, 325).

In the following decade the Botocudo headed for the aldeamentos of the Empire, whose patron in Minas Gerais province was Teófilo Otoni. This in effect meant living with European immigrants who landed at Filadélfia, Minas Gerais, attracted by the Empire of Brazil's propaganda and by the Vale do Mucuri colonisation company, sponsored by the Otoni family (Horta Duarte 2002). The attitude towards the indians and the Atlantic rainforest altered noticeably, and we see the virgin forest convert itself into the dread of the Italian missionaries and European immigrants, the region's new inhabitants, for whom the jungle represents "the fortress of the savages". In its turn the image of "forest" became gradually eclipsed by the figure of the "healthy and fertile soil" which, in the words of T. Otoni and the Capuchin missionaries, had been abandoned to the control of the leopards and savages. We will accompany the elimination of the forest that takes place in the second half of the nineteenth century, and coincides with the arrival of the European immigrant.


From the Leopoldina Colony to Itambacuri

Conducted by the Otoni family, the Companhia do Mucuri's colonisation program placed settlers and European urban proletariat who converged on the region at the end of the 1840s in the first development against the Botocudo.xii The Brazilian propaganda in Europe that favoured immigration alleged that the settlers would be guaranteed the exclusive usage of the fertile forests, a right obtained under contract signed with the colonisation company. In a second development, however, we witness the Companhia do Mucuri liken the Botocudo to the urban proletariat, as the settlers organised themselves politically against the conditions imposed by the immigration entrepreneurs; from the perspective of the local authorities, they started to occupy similar positions to the savage Mucuri indians, becoming, like them, public targets for intensive policing and for accusations of crimes levelled by the colonisation program of the Otonis and the Imperial government.xiii

To guard against the "Prussian proletarians" and the savage Botocudo, the Companhia do Mucuri used public funds to maintain a detachment of foot soldiers, among who were soldiers who spoke the language of the savages (a mark left by Guido Marlière?), considering these to be extremely useful languages due to the number of indians who lived in the forests of the province around the mid-nineteenth century. Apart from "keeping the savages respectful" (Otoni 2002), the military detachment assured the hard-working presence of the foreign settlers, be they or not proletarians, as well as the national ones, who the Companhia do Mucuri considered to be prone to idleness and drunkenness.

From the year of 1846 Otoni had established himself on the Mucuri to implement his "system of generosity, moderation and gentleness", which basically consisted substituting the practice of armed control and kidnapping of indigenous children with the free distribution of presents, tools and help in the setting up of aldeamentos financed by the provincial and Imperial governments. Otoni would call the new enterprise he directed at the indians a "banner", in honour of the old institutions, and he planned to convince the savages that "the Portuguese and the indians of the Mucuri… all of us were effectively tamed" (2002, 51). Written at the request of the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute (IHGB), his "News on the savages of the Mucuri" rescued the tired opposition between the Tupi and Tapuia in order to retain the image of the Tupiniquins as people of gentle customs and collaborators, from whom, he risked suggesting, the Machacali possibly descended.xiv

T. Otoni believed that the mountain ranges, hills, valleys and rivers of the Upper Mucuri and Jequitinhonha basins had not always been under the ("stupid") domain of their current dwellers, the Botocudo. That region had already been home to those who, unlike the present Botocudo, knew how to take proper advantage of the earth's resources, rather than subsist from hunting, something which entailed their constant movement, rendering them "unhappier, and less industrious than the Tartars, having not even tents or flocks to herd in their excursions" (2002, 88). He added:

The surrounding forests irrefutably demonstrate a culture that had ceased many years ago, and that soil has already been stage to a more advanced civilisation. A simple inspection of the terrain, above all of the abandoned settlements, proves that their current occupiers are invaders… It is not just the country's vegetation that speaks this language. The land, so as to denounce the barbarity of the Botocudo, has stored tools of industry imported from abroad by its ancient lords as well as local artefacts, which leave no doubt about the more advanced civilisation that once lived there (2002, 88).

Teófilo Otoni remembered that he himself, assisted by some European settlers from Filadélfia, could produce colonial roof tiles and other artefacts encountered that proved the movement of the Tupiniquim from the coast to the mountains. The lands that currently attracted migrants and immigrants due to its soil's fecundity, left "under the domain of leopards and savages", contained, according to him, sufficient evidence to prove that the contemporary Botocudo presence on the Mucuri, Doce and Jequitinhonha was recent. He ended his explanation noting that the type of native occupation in the region had undergone conspicuous decadence, which accorded with the opinion of the first naturalists. Differently from them, who tended to standardise the characterisation of the South American continent's populations, Otoni demonstrated the existence of different groupings, and consequently, different possibilities for colonisation. In this way, interest in the living Botocudo declined in exact proportion to the increasing celebration of the past colonial encounter with the coastal Tupi - here was a fruitful experience in cohabitation, now shown to be impossible with the contemporary native populations who lived in the Atlantic rainforest.


From the jungles to the rich, abundant soil

Nas selvas dos vales do Mucuri e do rio Doce ("In the jungles of the Mucuri and Doce River valleys") (Palazzolo 1973 [1952]) is the title of the memoir of the mission that elects the jungle as main protagonist, even though, in its unassuming Capuchin manner, it aims to apply itself to the transformation or conversion of the Nacnenuck, Pote, Giporok and Pojichá indians of the Aldeamento Itambacuri in Minas Gerais.xv In this exposition, the jungle is the challenge to be overcome by the mission with the implementation of a regime of "forest clearing and settlement", followed by extensive cultivation of the "rich, abundant soil".xvi

Friar Serafim de Gorízia, a missionary at Itambacuri, brought a solid academic background to his post, gained before his entry into the Minor Order, which certainly distinguished him from the group of missionaries working in Brazil in the period of the Padroado Mission. He arrived in Minas Gerais in the 1870s, accompanied by another missionary, Friar Ângelo de Sassoferrato. His task was to settle the Botocudo of the Mucuri, perceived as "the greatest obstacle to European colonisation" by the Companhia do Mucuri. The fact that the Vatican's   Propaganda Fide directed German speaking missionaries to Minas Gerais revealed (in contrast to what the Capuchin narrative tried to affirm when it associated missionaries exclusively to indian catechisation) that as far as the body in charge of missions was concerned, the evangelists working with the indians would necessarily be involved in accompanying the European settlers' adaptation and the difficult question of the forced cohabitation between indians, migrants and immigrants in the Brazilian Empire's aldeamentos.

Itambacuri was considered one of the most successful aldeamentos in the Minor Order's records of the period. There was an attempt to institutionally promote miscegenation - a subject dear to anthropology, which was able to analyse this experiment in cohabitation between varied groupings promoted by the State in the mid-nineteenth century and examine some of the issues that emerged from it. The first of these is concerned precisely with the official character of the mixture of races sought after in this region of Minas Gerais. Here, it is appropriate to ask how this happened and in what way were the results of the policy of miscegenation verified.xvii We observe that regarding this question, in order to achieve its own maxim, the mission, assisted by the State, did not plan on making the European settlers more adapted to the Atlantic rainforest through mixture with the natives; the object of the mixture - strictly directed at indians and poor migrant workers from Minas Gerais and the northeast of Brazil - was to convert the indians into Christian workers.

The peculiarity of this miscegenation project attracts attention, whereby the "well intentioned" mixture practiced throughout the continent (Velho 2005) was now dressed up as official policy, the public policy of the State and of missionary practices. Proclaiming the necessity of the Romanisation of Catholicism, the Propaganda Fide and the Vatican impressed an image of modernity upon the Italian Capuchin missions of the nineteenth century. The missionaries spoke in the name of a new epoch, established through the arrival of the railways, of vaccines against epidemics and other medical advances; roads and new trade and communication networks that reached into the hinterlands. Above all, however, the arrival of European immigrants embodied this change. In the aldeamentos, modernity was translated into conversion, that is, the transformation of the indians into Christian labourers. Purification, the conversion of the indians into Catholic labourers, was here obtained through mixture. In this sense, the miscegenated were considered by Friar Serafim de Gorízia as proof of the success of the Christian aldeamento:

And it has been precisely in virtue of the union and alliance between indigenous labourers and national peasants that here we have managed to achieve the most appropriate and spontaneous transformation of the prejudicial savages into hardworking national mestizos, as the high number of pure indians - the terror of this fertile region's inhabitants - has disappeared imperceptibly through this very metamorphosis or by natural death, so that the extensive and thick forests, once home to wild beasts, have become populated (Serafim de Gorízia 1889, cited by Palazzolo 1973 [1952], 172).

Miscegenation was verified through the celebration of weddings between indians and poor nationals, promoted by the Aldeamento; once the formalities of civil wedding had been dispensed with, the missionaries would then go on to document the results of the experiment of racial mixing encouraged at the aldeamentos, by which they exercised the little freedom they had vis-à-vis the State. In the censuses and records of the State and mission, the indian was no longer an indian, or was not considered as such by the mission. The missionaries were occasionally led to reintroduce indians in some of the censuses as a way of ensuring the budget from the government and of maintaining the clergy's differentiated position as administrators of aldeamentos; perhaps they did so because it was never properly known, throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, where in fact the indians considered as settled by the Catequese e Civilização ("Catechism and Civilisation") program actually were. A question that mobilised the government authorities and for which the Capuchin mission invariably gave evasive answers was that of demarcation of the land of the aldeamentos. The missionaries would declare that it was impossible to demarcate, since the settled indians continued to be spread along the rivers. Any attempt at a more detailed definition of the territorial limits of the aldeamentos met with resistance on the one hand from the settlers living in the aldeamentos, and on the other from the missionaries, who would lose their newly catechised indians located thirty, forty, sixty leagues from the mission, as could be seen at the Tibagi and Paranapanema valley aldeamentos, to the south of the province of São Paulo (Amoroso 1998).

The second question tackles the theme of the "construction of happiness", integral to the Christian project, as shown by B. Latour (2004b), which at Itambacuri meant the transformation of the Botocudo into "hardworking national mestizos", in other words, the construction of poverty, an issue dear to the Minor Order of the Capuchin Friars since its emergence (Le Goff 2001). In order to make further headway into this aspect, we are taken back to the collectivities formed by the Atlantic rainforest and its natives, now in a landscape thought in terms of the cities of God erected on rich, abundant terrains administered by Italian missionaries and other laborious Christians. In this new scenario, along with the Botocudo, the forest presents itself to the Capuchin mission as the greatest obstacle to be overcome. The immense territory and the "fearful forest" feature in the writings of Itambacuri's second missionary, Friar Ângelo Sassoferrato, who warned those who thought lightly of the task of persecuting the sly and thieving indians: "only those who do not know the forests in Brazil, which are of such magnitude as to serve as secure and impregnable fortresses to the indians, could hold such an idea".

In another passage in his memoirs written before his arrival to the Mission, Friar Ângelo de Sassoferrato said of the Atlantic rainforest:

Europeans were stupefied by the centuries old trees of Brazil, reaching thirty, forty or more metres in height and extraordinary thickness of girth. We were surrounded by these incredibly extensive virgin forests, home to ferocious leopards and tigers, and even more fearsome savages (Ângelo Sassoferrato cited by Palazzolo, 1973 [1952], 40).

Ten years after the aldeamento at Itambacuri had been created, in 1883, Friar Serafim described the missionary setup as a "beautiful and picturesque" establishment, possessing hundreds of kilometres of land apt for agriculture, potable water, and a favourable climate, where the forest gave way to the mission's buildings. He maintained that the aldeamento had come to fill the immense vacuum of uninhabited forests - "excepting the savages" - which stood between "the city of Teófilo Otoni and the Doce River, and between São Mateus and Peçanha, and who knows this region will be precursor to a splendid future of extraordinary prosperity…". A year before he detailed what would place the indians would occupy in this plan:

…no colonisation will subject itself to being so firm and persevering in rural labour in this zone as the indian once he is civilised, since he soon becomes accustomed to habits and customs and his aim is to ally himself to the poor peasants, his advantage being that he demands little and is less ambitious; and after all the indians, combined with the nationals of industrious temper, occupy themselves every year in taming portions of the thick empty spaces, this alone is the best service one can ask of them: what is not obtained through terror that perpetuates hatred among races, is accomplished through catechism, a charitable hand to the unfortunate (ACRJ 1882).xviii

The constant threats of attacks from "savage indians", however, continued. Friar Serafim de Gorízia referred to, for instance, the "presence of runaway or sent blacks…" who lived with the Pojichá indians, which, as we have seen, is a recurring trope in the naturalists' narratives. These African leaders "who advise and govern them and gather at the centre of São Mateus are making them increasingly dangerous".xix In the same way as virgin forest alluded to spaces of sociality that escaped the control of the State and the mission, in the missionary rhetoric, aldeamento continued to be identified with spaces of fraternity for working indians. This is what we can observe in the accounts of conflicts, such as one in which the German Consulate in Brazil and the Imperial authorities were summoned to resolve the question of the Pojichá attacks on the settlers by a petition sent by the European and national settlers in the municipality of Filadélfia:

Under the current state of affairs, it does not come as a surprise that the labouring foreigners and nationals of these areas wish for the extermination of the Pojichás by way of necessity, the realisation of which is nevertheless impossible, because they are numerous, tactical and suspicious and can call on the help of other indians, their neighbours, and take refuge in the thick and unknown virgin forest (Serafim de Gorízia, ACRJ 1885).xx

It remains for us to ask how the practices of the Capuchin friars in the aldeamentos in Brazil sat with the rules of the Minor Order of the Capuchin Friars and the dogmas of the Catholic Church in place at the time, and how the science of the naturalists resonated in the thoughts and practices of the missionaries. The work of Friar Rocco de Cesinale, a historian of the Minor Order, has provided me with some answers, as he became closely acquainted with and observed the Itambacuri missionaries' work, just as he did that of other Italian friars in Brazil and the Congo during the period. It is worth remembering that, on discussing the indians of Brazil, F. Rocco de Cesinale debated the relations between science and religion in the nineteenth century, and, on highlighting the possible dialogue between linguistics and religion, he even summoned the naturalist A. von Humboldt to the debate:

According to Alexander von Humboldt, language is as an intellectual creation of humanity, profoundly inherent to its spiritual development, of high importance to the nation to which it belongs, to help recognise the similarity and diversity of race [Cosmo, I, 334] (Rocco de Cesinale 1887 [1837], 508).

This passage opened the chapter "Il Tupi" of his Storia delle missione dei cappuccini ("History of the Capuchin missions"), published in Paris in 1837. In the following decades, Friar Rocco de Cesinale became Commissar General of the Minor Order of Friars of the Propaganda Fide of the Vatican at the moment when the Itambacuri Aldeamento was created in Minas Gerais. While occupying this post, he met the missionaries Ângelo de Sassoferrato and Serafim de Gorízia, in 1872 in Rome, when they came from their provinces of origin (Ancona and Gorízia, located in the interior of the Italian peninsula) and presented themselves to the Commissar General, shortly before boarding a ship for Rio de Janeiro in Genoa.xxi

Direct contact with missionaries who had travelled around Africa and the South American continent, allied to the position he occupied in the hierarchy of the Minor Order of Capuchin Friars, gave him the foundation for reflections made in a frank dialogue with the science of the time; in this case, the Cosmology of A. von Humboldt; the Linguistics of J.H. Klaprot (1783-1835, orientalist and German expeditionary); the treatises of Conrad Malte Brun (1775-1826, Danish geographer), A. Balbi (1782-1848, Venetian geographer) and Remusat; and the Botany of Smith Barton (1766-1815, North American doctor and botanist, also graduated at the University of Göttingen).xxii Rocco de Cesinale's Storia delle missione dei cappuccini (1837) shows how the nineteenth century Christian mission followed Natural History's formulations and the debate about the origin of man engaged in by monogenists and polygenists. Science presented itself to Catholic men of religion involved with missionary work in Brazil as a sort of auxiliary reflection, which provided the Christian religion with a reorientation of its practices in the construction of happiness in the spaces of Capuchin activities in Africa and South America.

The Capuchin mission of the nineteenth century thought in terms of the common origin of the human race, whether in aldeamentos in Brazil's interior or in central African villages. The question of diversity was controversial for Christian thought, and it was resolved through the study of languages. In this way, considering the coastal Tupi of Brazil and also those in the continent's interior - the Apiacá and the Mundurucu -, Friar Rocco de Cesinale used the Tupi language as a document to prove that humanity encountered in the South American continent in fact belonged to a single linguistic family.xxiii

To achieve this, he established a linkage between the methods of philological ethnography and physical anthropology, the latter being dedicated to studies of cranium measures and characteristics, and demonstrated that both operated through systematic comparisons. Finally, he affirmed how the procedures of the modern sciences, through comparative exercises and analogical constructions (such as those established in the studies of German physical anthropologists or in philologists' libraries) arrived at conclusions that bore great similarities to what was expressed in the Bible. In this way, the examination of the structure common to all American languages left no doubt as to their belonging to a single family. The missionaries, he would say, had observed from early on that certain indigenous languages in Brazil, such as Tupi, could be considered the key to the other dialects. The continent's catechist program was built on these foundations. Once this connection had been discovered, the next step was to trace the relationship between Tupi and the languages of the Old World, and again, in this area of research, relationships between the languages were confirmed.

If up until that moment the New World had been thought of in terms of its distance from the Old Continent - an understanding that had led to the recording of a multitude of languages, isolated from each other and equally strange and distant from the European languages -, Rocco de Cesinale argued that the new science, now based on the observation of facts and identification of systems (in a clear allusion to the scientific paradigm inaugurated by A. von Humboldt [Gerbi 1996, 304-305]), tended to reduce diversity to a few systems, allowing him to demonstrate that science and religion were excessively close or, better said, that the naturalists' science moved towards conclusions long established by the Bible.

Making reference to the contradictions in the implementation of the missionary program in Brazil, enabled by the língua geral, Rocco de Cesinale presented the collection of catechisms, Sunday prayers and indigenous language grammars collected by missionaries through the centuries as proof of the innumerable similarities between the Tupi languages.4

In this sense, the Italian missionaries of the Capuchin mission in Minas Gerais kept their practice very close to one of the Order's historians' exercises in reflection: the issue in both terrains was to confront the only apparent decomposition of the universe, without losing sight of its recomposed representation. In the case of Itambacuri, the Catholic mission aimed to introduce the purifying mixture, from which possible unity emerged: that of the indian who, through racial mixing, was made into a hardworking Christian.



Subverting the logic of the Colonial period's commercial routes that approached the South American continent via the Atlantic coast, the early nineteenth century's Natural Science departed from A. von Humboldt's Amazonia to describe the Atlantic rainforest and its inhabitants. In the following period, Spix and Martius will head to the Amazon forest in a long exploratory trip, taking with them conclusions shared at the Fazenda da Mandioca by the network of naturalists focussed on here. Between these two phases of Natural Science, Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied collected the Botocudo cranium on the Doce River, which, at the anatomist Blumenbach's craniometry study at the University of Göttingen, was to represent the fifth element of the typology constituted by the five races descended from a first primeval Caucasian species (Stocking Jr. 1987, 8-45).

If the science of the first German naturalists who landed at Rio de Janeiro is to provide, as demonstrated M.M. Lopes (1995), items, collections and a first detailed perception of tropical forests (which would in their turn enable the exercise of Natural Science in several of the analyses we have at our disposal concerning scientific practices of the period), the conditions under which such achievements were reached has however been ignored. This was one of Science's most spectacular mobilisations, which aimed at "the great universal census" (Latour 2000 [1997]), and was duly preceded by collection, storage, and showcase techniques - proceedings that deepened dissymmetries.

The monogenist hypothesis and the idea of degenerated humanity found in the tropics, which guided research and the conclusions of Natural History produced in the botanical gardens implemented within the Atlantic rainforest, entered into open dialogue with the demands brought by the imperatives of the program of European settler adaptation to the tropics. This configuration resulted in a profound silence imposed upon the natives of the continent. At times, as in some of Saint-Hilaire's pages (1974), we can recognise traces of a deep history of the South American continent, identified through forms of cultivation and use of plants and animals. In these passages, the French naturalist called attention to the "extremely efficient" medicines produced from plants, which served to "alleviate my ailments"; he even recommended the constitution of a "Brazilian medical discipline". Nevertheless, in these passages that suggest the existence of differentiated forms of fruition of the Atlantic rainforest's landscape, most of the time the naturalist is in fact referring to the settlers' knowledge.

In this way, the description privileged by the travellers' narratives was almost always biased towards the settler's presence, despite an approximation of nineteenth century Science to a history of Atlantic rainforest cultivation by its native populations, enabled by time spent together between scientists and indians during collection expeditions. This option explains the silence imposed upon the collectivities within the tropical forest.

A German canzonet from the first decades of the nineteenth century used as propaganda to promote immigration inspired Flora Süssekind's essay (1990); while contemplating the origins of the narrator of fiction in Brazil, Süssekind comes across national writers who, in order to find Brazil, resorted to the European naturalists and travellers during the same period we have focussed upon, the first decades of the nineteenth century. We proceed in the opposite direction: using records from Natural History, we can point out disputes surrounding the cultivation of the landscape that show us native populations of the continent in the environment of the tropical forests. To reflect on nature/society collectives, here called upon to participate as "beings capable of speech" (Latour 2004a [1999], 120), had the sense of giving back the Atlantic rainforest and the natives who frequented it in the nineteenth century their voice.



1 Paper presented at the 32nd ANPOCS Congress (Caxambu, 27-31 October 2008) at the symposium entitled "New comparative models: symmetric anthropology and post-social sociology", coordinated by Márcio Goldman and Eduardo Vargas. I thank the comments of the symposium's coordinators and participants. The Capuchin documentation microfilms related to the Itambacuri settlement utilized in this article were digitalized by the Image and Reprography Processing Sector of the Institute of Brazilian Studies (IEB), University of São Paulo.
2 Aldeamentos indígenas were indigenous settlements set up and administered by missionaries. Hereafter they shall be referred to as aldeamentos.
3 "Tapuia" was the term used by the Portuguese colonizers to designate the diverse indigenous groups who did not belong to the Tupi-Guarani families; in the twentieth century, this designation became restricted Jê speaking groups.
4 The língua geral was a lingua franca of Tupi-Guarani origin, used for inter-tribal and inter-ethnic communication during the Colonial period, particularly in the southeast of Brazil and in the province of Grão-Pará. Known as Nheengatu (or as "slang" among some indigenous groups), it currently enjoys ample circulation in the Amazon region.
i The Museu Nacional (National Museum) of Rio de Janeiro was inaugurated in 1818. On the creation of natural history museums in Brazil, see Lopes (1995).
ii Prior to the implantation of the Itambacuri settlement in the 1870s, the region accommodated aldeamentos directed by Capuchin friars as early as the 1840s in the north of Rio de Janeiro province, as well as in Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais and Bahia (Metodio da Nembro 1958).
iii On the contribution of G. Marlière to the work of A. de Saint-Hilaire, see Marlière (1904 [1824], 519-522).
iv Marlière makes use of the expression "to use the cat's hand to take the nuts from the fire", in reference to the passage in La Fontaine's tale; in this case, the Campos de Goitacases of the Puri populations substitute the nuts in the tale.
v The United Kingdom period (1816-1822) was marked by expeditions of English, Prussian and French naturalists, as the historian Costa has shown (2006).
vi According to Gerbi (1996, 250-254), J.F. Blumenbach, the German anatomist and creator of physical or comparative physical anthropology, was one of the first to see man as part of Natural History. By the time his doctorate De generis humani varietate nativa (Göttingen, 1775) was published, his was already a well-known name.
vii The studies on the adaptation of European immigrants were of special interest to Langsdorff (Manizer 1967), however they are also present in the work of Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied.
viii Authorisation requests for organising natural history expeditions in Amazonia and Mato Grosso were systematically denied during this period by the Imperial Government, in the name of protecting frontiers (Costa 2006).
ix On other G.I. Langsdorff scientific expeditions, see Komissarov (1981).
x In his turn, F. Selow knew Maximilian from Paris, where he had also met A. de Saint-Hilaire. Saint-Hilaire would arrive in Brazil a year later, in 1816, and remain until 1822.
xi For a significant contrast, see Costa (2006) on the reception and impact of the work of A. Saint-Hilaire in Brazil still in the nineteenth century.
xii On the colonisation of the Mucuri and the questions put to the indigenous populations, see Horta Duarte (2002), Mattos (2004) and Freitas (2009).
xiii In relation to the settlers, Teófilo Otoni distinguished two groups of European immigrants and applied different treatments towards each of them. According to him, what was desired from the immigrant colonies was a class of immigrants he identified as "labourers" - "settlers who paid for their tickets and would come to buy land from the Company" (Otoni 2002, 98). What happened was, however, that the Companhia do Mucuri's propaganda attracted a certain class of "onerous and suspect" citizens who T. Otoni classified as being of urban origin, the "Prussian proletariat", whom he blamed for the frequent disturbances in the settlement colonies.
xiv Teófilo Otoni commented on the Tupiniquim of the colonial period: "they who openly accept Portuguese civilisation, and who ally themselves with the Europeans through marriages, made the Captaincy of Porto Seguro prosper in its first years to the point that the settlers were soon able to export large quantities of sugar to the great metropoles. Yet the captaincy's prosperity lasted only for a few years, since it came under attack from the Aimorés, Pataxós, Abatirás… to such a point that in 1587 only one mill was left in the whole captaincy, and complete decadence continued for the following two decades…" (Otoni 2002, 43). With respect to the re-edition of the colonial discussion on the Tupi and Tapuia opposition during the Brazilian Empire, see Monteiro (2001).
xv The memoirs of Itambacuri, belonging to a genre of nineteenth century missionary memoirs that share form, tone and breadth of subject, present themselves as a political instrument in defence of the Catholic mission in the regional context. Similar to other writings of this kind, they are aimed at the foreign Catholic readership that usually had access to the sparse Capuchin missionary memoirs prior to the Brazilian public. The volume examined here, compiled in the 1950s by F. Jacinto de Palazzolo, Superior of the Capuchins, was published within the Brasiliana collection of the Companhia Editora Nacional, and was widely popular, being perhaps the Capuchin work best-known to the Brazilian reader. In presenting the volume, Alceu de Amoroso Lima reveals the probability of F. Serafim de Gorízia's noble descent. He belonged to Austrian nobility and was a close friend of the Emperor Franz Joseph (Palazzolo 1973 [1952], 22). Besides the memoirs we also possess one of the period's most ample exchanges in correspondence, signed by the missionaries Friar Serafim de Gorízia and Friar Ângelo de Sassoferrato (Arquivo da Custódia do Rio de Janeiro dos Frades Capuchinhos, hereafter ACRJ).
xvi ACRJ, Fr. Serafim de Gorízia Correspondence, Itambacuri, 12/8/1882.
xvii Similar experiences, such as the São Pedro de Alcântara Settlement directed by Friar Timotheo de Castelnovo, in the Tibagi valley, Paraná, had no intention of achieving this official recommendation. At the São Pedro de Alcântara Settlement the Capuchin mission registers the impossibility of bringing migrant and immigrant settlers closer to the Kaiowá, Mbyá and Kaingang settlements; uniting these distinct indigenous groups was equally seen as unachievable (Amoroso 1998).
xviii ACRJ 20-II-31, 12/7/1882.
xix ACRJ 20-III-51, 15/3/1885.
xx ACRJ 20-III-56, 30/6/1885.
xxi The Arquivo Histórico do Itamaraty, in Rio de Janeiro, holds the records of the arrival of the Italian Capuchin missionaries hired by the Imperial government to administer the aldeamentos in the provinces of Brazil during the Second Reign (1840-1889) (see Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Ofícios da Cidade do Vaticano, Período 1840-1889).
xxii Pierre Verger turns to the Storia delle missione dei cappuccini, by R. de Cesinale, to contemplate the place of the Catholic mission in the construction of fetish gods among the Yoruba, in nineteenth century Congo (Verger 1966).
xxiii At this moment the Capuchin mission also installed itself on the Tapajós River, keeping Friar Pelino de Castrovalva there, another Italian missionary and director of the Aldeamento Indígena de Bacabal among the Mundurucu (Amoroso 2006).



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CORRESPONDÊNCIA dos Missionários Capuchinhos de Itambacuri, MG. Arquivo da Custódia do Rio de Janeiro dos Frades Capuchinhos.

MINISTÉRIO DAS RELAÇÕES EXTERIORES. Arquivo Histórico do Itamaraty. Ofícios da Cidade do Vaticano (1840-1899).