The Portuguese conquest of the Amazon Estuary : identity, war, frontier (1612-1654)
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The Portuguese conquest and colonization of Brazil was mediated by the Tupi-Guarani societies that inhabited the Atlantic coast in a discontinuous pattern from the estuary of the River Plate to the mouth of the Amazon. In fact, the extension of Portuguese occupation coincides with the limits of expansion of these Tupi-Guarani societies in most regions, suggesting a historical relation with deep potential implications. This work studies the conquest and construction of the Portuguese colonial frontier in the Lower Amazon and its estuary at the beginning of the XVIIth century, aiming to unveil the nature of the relations between Portuguese and Amerindian societies. The starting point is the hypothesis that the presence of Tupinamba societies from the Brazilian northeast, and of many other groups linked with them through language and culture, helped the Portuguese cause in their dispute for the control of the southern Amazon shores with other European competitors trading in the region. However, this very same dependency on the Tupinamba also acted as a brake on the Portuguese conquest as it headed north. This is supposed by the fact that almost no Tupi-Guarani traces have been recorded on the northern shore of the Amazon. After analyzing native American dynamics in Brazil and Guayana, this work presents a detailed study of the battles and skirmishes fought by opposed European interests, and their natives allies, in the Amazon from 1616 to 1632. The last part is devoted to the analysis of the process of cultural construction on the colonial frontier, through conquest mechanisms that were also deployed on other colonial American frontiers. Among these mechanisms I emphasise the implementation of a set of institutions and the construction of a negative and savage native alterity through narratives that have been reproduced by the regional historiography.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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