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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This research brings together the colonization of existing indigenous peoples in the Sertões do Leste (the eastern backlands of Brazil) and the formation of a national Brazilian narrative. Violence, extermination, and slavery became frequent in the area dating from the Carta Régia of 1808, which declared a “Just War” against the “Cannibal Botocudos.” Following the Law of Catechesis of 1845, such measures were replaced by the discourse of “civilization” through mestizaje as an efficient way of liberating land from the various indigenous groups present in the area, articulated through interrelated socio-symbolic networks. The issue would be widely discussed in official reports written by missionaries and politicians. In contrast to the contemporary national narratives of Argentina and Uruguay, constructed on the expansion of territories and the decimation of “savages” for the advancement of their borders, the experience of “pacification” of the eastern backlands of Brazil’s interior underpins the incorporation of the idea of mestizaje as a narrative of national “civilization.”

Keywords: Keywordscatechesis, backlands/Sertões, Botocudos, mestizaje, revolts, ethnogenesis, national narratives

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