Andrea Roca (LACED/MN/UFRJ), The Hinterlands and the Desert: Images of the “Nationalization” of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and Argentina in the Works of J.M. Rugendas (1802-1858)
Wednesday March 18, 2015, 5:30pm
UBC – French, Hispanic & Italian Studies Department
799 Buchanan Tower
This book identifies and analyses ‘nationalized’ images of Indigenous populations of contemporary Brazilian and Argentinean territories, departing from two iconographic sets authored by the German artist traveller Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858). Proposing a comparative reading of these sets, the text establishes their conditions of emergence and achievement in the first half of the 19th century, and their subsequent paths and social definitions until the present. These images, it is argued, are less relevant as bearers of empirical data, than as bearers of social relations. Conceptualized as artefacts and research mediators, they allow for disclosing contexts shared by social actors, ideological schemes, and specific political projects, demonstrating the conditions that made possible to visualize the production of ‘Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian hinterlands’ and of ‘Indigenous peoples of the Argentinean desert’. These images encapsulate and reproduce part of the socio-political dynamics engaged in the production of a specific Indigenous identity, and the concomitant place assigned to Indigenous peoples in the nation building projects of these countries. Inasmuch as they naturalize conceptions of social differentiation, their documentary value – it is argued – rests on their potential to unveil the socio-political dynamics of their inception. Departing from the aesthetical and documental (scientific or historical) readings these images have been subjected to, it is argued they must be seen as colonial products. As such, they document different orders of cultural domination, which have interpreted Indigenous populations as objects of thought and political intervention.
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