The Brazilian Anthropological Exposition (Andermann, chapter 2)

1882. It seems that up until now, the Empire had been pleased with the Indian as an emblem of the nation. But this exhibition offers the spectacular rehearsal of a detached, “objective” perspective on this internal other. Material evidence of “real” indigenous life called for a reappraisal of the Indian’s suitability for the emblematic role he had.

Andermann 60: However, science’s re-enunciation of the indigenous as “bare life” actually repeated in its own way the foundational gesture of the literary and artistic Indianism it was challenging. Is this elide-and-evoke, then?

Brazilian Indianism is a discursive and iconographic variation on the theme of sacrifice, and provides an imaginary arena in which the social and political contradictions of a slaveholding liberal monarchy can be spelled out and dramatized. Anthropology sought to reformulate the sacrificial bond in the terms of a sovereign ban. More simply put, the scientific display on the Indian reinstated traditional dichotomies between noble and ignoble savages, mythical past and degenerate present, and so on.

The increasing interest in race as a biological rather than a cultural or historical phenomenon was tied closely to abolition. And indigenous life gets linked to the state in a totally negative way, as “bare life,” devoid of its former rights of exception. Law abandons life; indigenous life, with its negative relation to the law, is the biological trope of extinction; it is placed at the mercy of the state.

The relation of racial to legal discourse gets even more explicit with abolition (cf. the work of Nina Rodrigues).

Important: in Indianism, it is as sacrificial victim that the Indian can be projected as engendering Brazilian nationality. And it was literary and artstic Indianism that had sparked scientific interest in the native population. Before “whitening,” Indianism had proposed the absorption of difference into identity.

Think: Totem and Taboo; connect this with Lund.

This idea of bare life is very interesting.

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