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The People of the RiverNature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835-1945$
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Oscar de la Torre

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643243

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643243.001.0001

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The People of the Curuá River

The People of the Curuá River

Black Rural Protest and the Vargas Era in Amazonia, 1921–1945

(p.116) Chapter Six The People of the Curuá River
The People of the River

Oscar de la Torre

University of North Carolina Press

In 1921, the village of Pacoval, located not far from Santarém on the northern shore of the Amazon River, was in turmoil. In August the state government sent a special envoy to ascertain if the purchase and demarcation of Brazil nut groves were being done by the book and whether permitting its privatization was a wise policy. The protests that ensued represented a new episode in the history of black struggles for citizenship in post-emancipation Brazil, and this chapter analyzes three of their core elements. First, the Pacovalenses presented themselves as “the people of the Curuá” River and fought to keep it “free,” locating the rights of citizenship yet again in the natural landscape. Second, they tried to protect the networks of economic and political patronage that they had built since the time of slavery, which had provided a precarious but real degree of institutional leverage. Finally, in their encounters with public authorities the black peasants also portrayed themselves as “good Brazilians,” a nativist claim that mirrored Afro-Brazilian discourses in other states in those years.

Keywords:   Curuá river, Pacoval, Brazil nuts, Magalhães Barata, Vargas era, political patronage, nativism, First Republic, maroon descendants

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