Allegories Of Wildness ~ Refractions Of Wildness: The Choreography Of War

Peoples with histories[i]
To best understand the situation with the Latundê, it is essential to have as much historical understanding as possible to comprehend the basis of the present and to more clearly see these people as but one thread in the myriad of local groups and peoples that comprise the Nambikwara fabric. The documentary history of the Latundê showed the contingencies that amounted to a tragic destiny. The field research discussed afterwards demonstrated that the destiny and viability of their social group, ethnic identity, and language is unclear. For the small group of people now called Latundê, we have can only get a fleeting glimpse of their history and only of a short amount of time. This is in part because of communication difficulties, but owes also to the Indians’ reticence to discuss the past. It is quite obvious that they parted ways with the main body of the Northern Nambikwara not too long ago. Linguistically, the Lakondê dialect is very similar, aside from a number of syntactic and lexical differences. The major leader of the latter group, the one who was responsible for contact, and who is the brother of Dona Tereza, claimed that the two languages were the same. Therefore the small group of Latundê must have participated in the northern network described for the history of the Sabanê. As to the Sabanê, they were documented to be in the Roosevelt/Tenente Marques area at the time of Rondon’s incursion and initial expropriation. Additionally, they have stories about prior migrations. Thus, the historical time depth has gradually been extended and now with the Sararé comes to include an even larger time frame. The Sararé, as the group is most commonly known currently, inhabit the southernmost part of all the region once pertaining to the Nambikwara ensemble. Similar to the Latundê they only made contact in the sixties and live in an area separate from the main Nambikwara Indigenous Territory occupied by the bulk of the surviving groups of the Guaporé Valley. Like the Sabanê, the information about their history includes much more depth than that of the Latundê.

The Sararé form a sub-set of the sub-cluster of the branch of the Nambikwara linguistic family that is best known because of the linguistic missionary work among the Nambikwara do Campo. The Southern Nambikwara cluster includes the Campo and Valley sets within which one distinguishes the southernmost Sararé as a sub-set. The Nambikwara do Campo have a different historical record because of the Telegraph Line, the concomitant penetration by others this Line permitted, and the rubber expansion from lower rivers reaching out up to the high rivers of their heartland on the Parecis Plateau[ii]. The Guaporé valley was mostly spared from the expropriating effects the incursion of the Telegraph Line was to have, but by the time of the Second World War the renewed impulse of the regional encroaching society attained some peoples in the Valley too. The western border of the Valley Nambikwara was the Guaporé River, a river that had historical importance as early as the seventeenth century. By coincidence the river marks the expansion of the Portuguese beyond the original treaty of Tordesillas that pre-established the dividing line with the Spanish. At the time of the treaty no one actually knew the extension of the territories which each state was allowed to “legitimately” conquer in the so-called New World. The so-called Paulistas (from the state and capital of São Paulo that at one time formally comprised an enormous territory of various other contemporary states), also known as the bandeirantes (after the expeditions, bandeira, from São Paulo organized by the Paulistas, roamed ever further into the vast hinterland in search of Indians to be enslaved, gold, precious metals and diamonds. “Red gold” (Hemming 1995) constituted one of the mainstays of the labor force in São Paulo during a large part of the seventeenth century (see Monteiro 1994). Easy riches were supposed for the largely unknown interior and very much coveted as a fast way to wealth. In Brazilian historical mythology the bandeirantes figure prominently as those principally responsible for the territorial expansion of Brazil. In the process they depleted enormous areas of their inhabitants, also displacing and exterminating Indians. In the end, in the middle of the eighteenth century, the Guaporé River became a major frontier with Spanish America, nowadays called Bolivia, consisting of the major part of the actual exterior border of Rondônia. Read more

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Allegories Of Wildness ~ The Cartography Of War And Peace: Worlds In Collision

For the glory of labor, country and liberty: the recurrence of the intrusion of civilization in the republic

The previous chapter discussed the documentary sources about the Southern Nambikwara mostly from the conquering society’s perspective. On a few occasions the other point of view, coming from the contemporary Sararé oral tradition, brought out some contrasts and coincidences. One such coincidence worth remembering concerns the new tactic developed by Nambikwara local groups when pressures built up within their own territory. By the 20th century they adapted by concealing villages and gardens in remote places or even may have abandoned horticulture for some time and reverted to a hunting and gathering mode of production. The Nambikwara peoples or local groups may have been temporarily forced to be nomadic and, even when they were not, they appeared to be. Thus the imagery projected to the national society of being nomadic hunters without a fixed abode may simultaneously be a partial truth and a tactical deception. The result of partial conquest (as documentary sources indicate areas not occupied) and the active ruse of the conquered combine in the image of the nomadic and elusive Indians disappearing when pursued. From the early years of the century until the end of the empire, this image must have contributed to relinquishing the conquered territory to the warfare practiced by the formally and formerly vanquished. The Nambikwara probably adapted to the presence of the mining villages and the quilombos by creatively designing a new form of occupancy and a new mode of war. The war of conquest waged before provoked a reflexive response from the Indian peoples, and in the end they prevailed. To clarify, the lack of strong economic interest, the attention diverted to more urgent Indian problems, the dearth of government resources, and the diminished general strategic and political importance of a peripheral region all contributed to the relenting attitude taken by the provincial government and the lack of commitment to stronger local initiative. In the meantime, the re-conquest fueled the hatred and humiliation, at least on the part of the local society of Vila Bela, a fact even expressed in writing. The Cabixi offended the sense of natural supremacy of the locals but support in the wider provincial and national context failed to come forward with respect to the necessary investment to resist the continuous and persistent Indian campaign to recover the lost ground. The town of Vila Bela itself probably could not be reconquered by the new modality of Indian warfare[i].

A blank spot on the map and the absence of the state in a very large region it purportedly owns, is in itself a symbolically forceful reason to expand its tentacles into the unknown and savage land and its people. On the other hand, it is with good reason that FUNAI’s policy towards the uncontacted or groups uninterested in contact now is to let them be and not to subject them to a pacification campaign (unless the encroachment of the regional society endangers them)[ii]. At first, after the initial years of the republic commenced and dominated by the positivist military, hardly a change occurred with respect to the treatment of Indians and their placement in the scheme of things. Another head of the new state of Mato Grosso explained that the Indians should be treated humanely but that the more recalcitrant Indians might need to brought into line forcibly and then learn the principles of civilization. The Cabixi posed such a savage threat to the civilized presence in the region of Vila Bela, that they would have qualified perfectly for such a overt domination to transform their “miserable and degrading life” by “the fear of punishment” and “a regime of order and discipline” (Costa 1897: 31)[iii]. The formal change of the institutional framework of the state hardly made any difference in the beginning of what is now generally known as the Old Republic. The Southern Nambikwara of the Valley, therefore, did not enjoy any new privilege in the beginning of the century before the SPI came into existence in the wake of making a limited contact with some of the Nambikwara do Campo groups. Only after the Nambikwara experience of Rondon, when the rules set out by the military positivists began to produce amicable contacts on the Parecis Plateau with the Northern Nambikwara, did some change occur. After SPI’s inauguration, the province president of Mato Grosso mentioned that the task of this federal organization would be to care for these unfortunate uncivilized fellow citizens. Old habits die hard, and many political and general interests were involved, so the governors of Mato Grosso always tried to interfere with such a sensitive subject[iv]. Read more

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Allegories Of Wildness ~ A Final Summation

The awful unfolding scene of the future
It is difficult to predict the future. After completing work on the three Nambikwara peoples above I decided to try to establish a few parameters and attempt to limit the scope of what future scenarios may come into play. This brings to mind the volumes of memoirs written by Sir Winston Churchill on his participation in the tremendous and costly events of WWII. Here, only a few years after the appalling events that left so many dead and engendered the reality of the very word genocide, Churchill pondered what way, exactly, his experience could aid in avoiding human tragedy. He believed that he did not write history, that was the work of a future generation, instead his goal was to make “(…) a contribution to history which will be of service for the future” (Churchill 1964a: preface; orig. 1948).His account offers a fascinating inside view of a war that brought entire nations into servitude and threatened the existence of a sovereign Great Britain. Many European countries suffered from the Nazi occupation and domination of their lands and, in reality, their attendant transformation into German colonies. Churchill, and according to his account, the entire British people, were determined even at the most difficult time of the War in the mid-1940s to continue the fight and never to surrender and accept the loss of freedom. This utter resolve, he clearly affirmed, is a matter of sentiment and values, not merely the expression of any kind of material interests. The feelings of the subjugated peoples and the indomitable spirit for their liberty as a free British people of these times show the force of ideas and values related to ethnic self-determination. I suggest that simply by transposing this historical experience, the author and these European peoples should appreciate the longing for autonomy and admire the resistance and resilience of the Nambikwara peoples whose histories are discussed in this book. The fact is, many people do appreciate this and these are the people who pressured governments to act in accordance with their professed values and insure that laws are obeyed. Of course, the ethnocentric values of civilization and progress in the pre-eminent evolutionary framework conflict with other values and by attributing primitiveness and backwardness to indigenous peoples that, for many people and all governments, justify the suspension of their own pre-eminent notion of self-determination. The Nambikwara congeries and other subjugated peoples think otherwise. These peoples have their own goals and plans for the future.

History is shaped by the unfolding of intersecting multiple causalities and the permanent, simultaneous occurrence of a multifold contingencies and accidents. Human history is both determined and indeterminate by structural causes and open to human agency. The present shapes the future but the scene of the future remains fundamentally open-ended and obscured, especially for the embedded participant. “The veils of the future are lifted one by one, and mortals must live from day to day” (Churchill 1964b: 209). In prospective, science, the main crux that needs to be ascertained is the weight to be attached to the diverse factors contributing to permanence (structural continuity), or transformation (structural change). The larger issue at stake here can hardly be addressed and the particular prospects for the different Nambikwara peoples have already been outlined above. Still a few additional remarks are required. Continuing along the lines of Churchill’s experience, he recounted that before the War, in 1932, he had an opportunity to meet Hitler in Germany, an encounter suggested by a man who was likely the German leader’s emissary. During Churchill’s conversations with this man, he expressed his astonishment about Hitler’s policy towards the Jews. He said he understood such posture if any Jew had done wrong, committed treason, or wanted “(…) to monopolize power in any walk of life; but what is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?’”(Churchill 1964a: 71). True enough, this issue addresses the fundamental question of deprecating and hating all people of a certain social category owing purely to their classification and identification as a certain people. The intermediary must have relayed this doubt, and Hitler apparently considered this sufficient reason to cancel the appointment. In this way the two future enemies never met face-to-face. Read more

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Allegories of Wildness ~ Bibliography

Bibliography
Abrams, Daniel and Steven Strogatz – 2003 “Modelling the dynamics of language death.” In Nature Vol. 424, 21 August 2003.
Abreu, Regina – 1996 A Fabricação do Imortal. Memória, História a Estratégias de consagração no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: LAPA/Rocco.
Agostinho, Pedro – 1996 “Os Nambikwara en 1975: transferências e situação.” In S. B. Magalhães, R. de C. Britto and E. R. de Castro (eds.), Energia na Amazônia, vol.II, Belém: MPEG/UFPA/AUA.
Ahearn, Laura, – 2001 “Language and Agency.” In Annual Review of Anthropology, vol.30.
Albert, Bruce and Alcida Ramos (eds.) – 2002 “Pacificando o branco.” São Paulo: UNESP.
Almeida, Alfredo Wagner B. de – 1991 “O intransitividade da transição. O Estado, os conflitos agrários e a violência na Amazônia”. In P. Léna and A. de Oliveira (eds.), Amazônia, a fronteira agrícola 20 andos depois. Belém: MPEG and ORSTOM.
Almeida, Alfredo Wagner B. de e João P. de Oliveira – 1998 “Demarcação e reafirmação étnica: um ensaio sobre a Funai.” In J.P. de Oliveira (ed.), Indigenismo e territorialização. Poderes, rotinas e saberes coloniais no Brasil comntemporâneo. Contracapa: Rio de Janeiro.
Almeida, Marli Auxiliadora de – 2005 ““Pacificação” dos Bororo Coroado na Província de Mato Grosso. “Guerras e Alianças” (1845-1887).” Paper presented at the XXIII Simpósio Nacional de História, July 2005.
Anzia, L. Caselli – 2005 “Demarcação de Fronteiras na América Meridional no Setecentos, Exploração do Trabalho Indígena e Doenças.” In M. Salomon, J. F. Silva, L. M. Rocha (eds.), Processos de territorialização: Entre a História e a Antropologia. Goiânia: Ed da UCG.
Arruda, Rinaldo – 1998 “Rikbatsa.” In Encyclopedia of Indian Peoples. Instituto Socioambiental: http://www.socioambiental.org/pib/epinglish/rikbatsta/rikbatsa.shtm.
Aspelin,P. – 1975 “External articulation and domestic production: the artifact trade of the Mamaindê of northwestern Mato Grosso, Brazil.” Cornell University dissertation series no. 58.
– 1976 “Nambicuara economic dualism: Lévi-Strauss in the garden, once again.” In Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol. 132, nr. 1.
– 1978 “Comments by Aspelin.” In Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol. 134, nr.1.
– 1979a “The Ethnography of Nambicuara Agriculture”. In Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol. 135, nr.1.
– 1979b “Food distribution and social bonding among the Mamaindê of Mato Grosso, Brazil.” In Journal of Anthropological Research vol. 35, nr. 3.
– 1983 ““What You Don’t Know , Won’t Hurt You”.” In Cultural Survival Quarterly Issue 6.3.
Avery, Thomas – 1977 “Mamaindê vocal music.” In Ethnomusicology Vol. XXI, nr. 3.
Aytai, Desidério – 1966-7 “As flautas rituais dos Nambikuara.” In Revista de Antropologia vols. 15-6.
– 1981 “Apontamentos sobre o dualismo econômico dos índios Nambikuara.” In Publicações do Museu Municipal de Paulínia, vol.3, no.15.

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Imaging Africa: Gorillas, Actors And Characters

Africa is defined in the popular imagination by images of wild animals, savage dancing, witchcraft, the Noble Savage, and the Great White Hunter. These images typify the majority of Western and even some South African film fare on Africa.
Although there was much negative representation in these films I will discuss how films set in Africa provided opportunities for black American actors to redefine the way that Africans are imaged in international cinema. I conclude this essay with a discussion of the process of revitalisation of South African cinema after apartheid.

The study of post-apartheid cinema requires a revisionist history that brings us back to pre-apartheid periods, as argued by Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela (2003) in their book’s title, To Change Reels. The reel that needs changing is the one that most of us were using until Masilela’s New African Movement interventions (2000a/b;2003). This historical recovery has nothing to do with Afrocentricism, essentialism or African nationalisms. Rather, it involved the identification of neglected areas of analysis of how blacks themselves engaged, used and subverted film culture as South Africa lurched towards modernity at the turn of the century. Names already familiar to scholars in early South African history not surprisingly recur in this recovery, Solomon T. Plaatje being the most notable.

It is incorrect that ‘modernity denies history, as the contrast with the past – a constantly changing entity – remains a necessary point of reference’ (Outhwaite 2003: 404). Similarly, Masilela’s (2002b: 232) notion that ‘consciousness of precedent has become very nearly the condition and definition of major artistic works’ calls for a reflection on past intellectual movements in South Africa for a democratic modernity after apartheid. He draws on Thelma Gutsche’s (1972) assumption that film practice is one of the quintessential forms of modernity. However, there could be no such thing as a South African cinema under the modernist conditions of apartheid. This is where modernity’s constant pull towards the future comes into play (Outhwaite 2003). Simultaneous with the necessary break from white domination in film production, or a pull towards the future away from the conditions of apartheid, South Africans will need to re-acquire the ‘consciousness of precedent’, of the intellectual and cultural heritage of the New African Movement, such as is done in Come See the Bioscope (1997) which images Plaatjes’s mobile distribution initiative in the teens of the century. The Movement’s intellectual and cultural accomplishments in establishing a national culture in the context of modernity is a necessary point of reference for the African Renaissance to establish a national cinema in the context of the New South Africa (Masilela 2000b). Following Masilela (ibid.: 235), debates and practices that are of relevance within the New African Movement include:
1. the different structures of portrayal of Shaka in history by Thomas Mofolo and Mazisi Kunene across generic forms and in the context of nationalism and modernity;
2. the discussion and dialogue between Solomon T. Plaatje, H.I.E. Dhlomo, R.V. Selope Thema, H. Selby Msimang and Lewis Nkosi about the construction of the idea of the New African, concerning national identity and cultural identity;
3. the lessons facilitated by Charlotte Manye Maxeke and James Kwegyir Aggrey in making possible the connection between the New Negro modernity and New African modernity;
4. the discourse on the relationship between Marxism and modernity within the context of the Trotskyism of Ben Kies and I.B. Tabata and the Stalinism of Michael Harmel, Albert Nzula and Yusuf Mohammed Dadoo; and
5. the feminist political practices of Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Phyllis Ntanatala and others.
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Ton Dietz ~ Working Paper: Destination Africa. The Dynamics 1990-2015

In September 2017 the African Studies Centre Leiden published a Thematic Map about Africa’s international migration in 2015. At the backside the 2015 data published by UN-DESA were used to show the total international immigration data per country, linked to the position of these countries on the Human Development Index for the same year. Also the data for intercontinental immigration per country were given.

These were clearly showing that immigration was much higher for the African countries with a relatively high HDI score than for the African countries with a low HDI score. Intercontinental immigration was much lower than international immigration, because most international migrants stay within Africa. The thematic map showed that out of 20.4 million people who were stated to be ‘immigrants’ (= born in another country) only 2.5 million came from outside Africa. A map was shown with all major intra-African migration flows as measured in 2015. And two maps were included showing how many people had immigrated to the 54 African countries, and what the numbers and relative importance was of inter-continental (non-African) immigrants per country, linked to the 2015 HDI scores. So far so good. But there is much more to show.

For this preparatory note for the ‘Destination Africa’ conference we added a dynamic picture: looking at the changes between 1990 and 2015. And we also looked at the dynamics of the patterns of migration: where did the people come from who have been counted as ‘immigrants in Africa’ in 1990, 2000, and 2015. An interesting question can also be answered: what is the colonial hangover? And is it true that Europe is losing ground?

This is volume 141 of the series ASCL Working Papers.

Read the Working Paper.

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