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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Throughout its colonial history, much of Portuguese America’s sparsely populated territory remained incompletely colonized, the province of autonomous and semiautonomous Indians. In a policy shift after 1750, the implications of which remain poorly understood, the Portuguese Crown intensified efforts to control Brazil’s many inland frontiers. This chapter focuses on one of these regions, the rugged mountains separating the captaincies of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. Exploring relations between Portugal’s centralizing transatlantic state and the zone’s indigenous peoples, it emphasizes the importance of territorial intelligence gathered from the Coroado, Coropó, and other Indians by officials who dispatched a military expedition to counter the flow of contraband gold and diamonds. The chapter argues that the indigenous occupants of this strategic region largely defined the limits of state power while securing their own survival and independence.

Keywords: Colonial Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Coroado, Coropó, wilderness guides, frontiers and borderlands, state formation, contraband, mining

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