Brazil Ethnology of the Immigrant Population

The components of the current population of Brazil can be grouped into three major divisions: I, the aborigines; II, the immigrants; III, the mestizos. In turn, the immigrants from the racial point of view are divided into two large masses: 1. African Negroes; 2. the Whites of Europe. The reciprocal proportion is as follows:

These figures are deduced from the 1890 census, but official Brazilian publications admit that very important variations could not have occurred. It is the impression of various observers that the Negro population in several states exceeds the white population (Denis), but, in the absence of exact data, we adhere to the official criterion, according to which in the whole confederation the Negroes represent something more than the quarter of the white population..

It is easy to deduce that a very important influence belongs to the population which is derived from the mixture of the primary elements, that is to say the mestizos. These mestizos in their turn can be reduced to various types of crosses, being products of the Indian with the white (mameluco), of the white with the negro (mulato) and of the negro with the Indian (cafuso). Each of these mixed types produces an unspeakable complexity of variations in further crossings, so that, with great reason, in dealing with the problem of the Brazilian type, the writer FJ Oliveira Vianna asks: “Which of these types represents the national type? ? Everyone and no one, hence the impossibility of speaking of a Brazilian type “. Given this complexity of constitutive elements, the path followed by Brazilian scholars, demographers and ethnographers, was very difficult to trace, albeit approximately, a picture of the current population, both from the point of view of race and that of the cultural heritage and psychological investigation.

The first step towards relative clarity was achieved by observing the densification regions of the various masses, which is also equivalent to highlighting the faculties, mental habits and economic attitude of each division. The mass of black slaves had, as is well known, during the era of the Colony, the mission of supplying labor to industries, and therefore spread at first along the strip of the Atlantic coast (states of Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro), where cane plantation and sugar extraction flourished in the large colonial estates. In a more recent time it was also attracted to some internal states (Minas, Goyaz and Matto Grosso), where, due to the discovery of metalliferous deposits, the era of mining exploitation began. Furthermore, if you take into account of the cultivation of coffee in the state of Sao Paulo, there is a global criterion on the economic function and on the areas of diffusion of the black population, since after the definitive liberation of the slaves, proclaimed by the Empire in 1888, the Negroes remained more or less in the the same places where the abolitionist decree found them. Due, therefore, to historical reasons, together with its proverbial inertia and lack of initiative, the Negro element is today gathered in the areas of greatest vitality of the nation, that is, in the centers of agriculture and industry. Its marked “urbanism”, accentuated with the abolition of slavery, means that a large number of Negroes are found in the capitals, where they stratify in the lower spheres of city activity, as laborers, porters, servants, waiters; the stevedores of Brazilian ports are recruited almost exclusively from Negroes and their mestizos, the mulattoes. Strange mixture of physical strength and sloth, discipline and insubordination, fidelity and vice offer, en masse, these melanoid contingents.

It should be premised that the extreme complexity of the origins gives the African contingents an already very varied aspect, which certainly cannot be defined with a unitary qualification. Oliveira Vianna distinguishes by their sweet and subdued, loyal and honest character, the Negroes of the Mina, Fellanin, Fulla, Yoruba and Egba tribes, who show to possess aptitudes for social improvement, visible in their love for the economy and Welfare. The Haussa and Efan, on the other hand, are haughty and indomitable Negroes, and among their ranks the leaders of the Negro revolutions in Brazil are always recruited. A third group, characterized by the absence of morality and integrity of character, is formed by Angola and Gegi, and in its bosom the socially less desirable types of half-caste have been molded, for incorrigible idleness and immorality, such as theindoor capadocios.

But, apart from these differences, it is necessary to recognize that the black population of less recent formation, which includes the less impure Negroes, offers, in general, the qualities of submission, sobriety and moderation of mores that contrast sharply with the insubordination and aggression of mulattos. We have arrived at the real pain point of the Brazilian demography: the mulatto. Historians and politicians of the country recognize that this social element, rebellious and explosive, has given the main factor to the disorder and anarchy in the events of Brazilian history. Judge whoever you like by the force these facts bring to the doctrine of the racial psychological inheritance, or instead to the perversion of a misunderstood freedom of education and environment: the fact is that in front of a pure or semi-pure Negro obedient and obliging, one finds a fresh-born, sensitive, arrogant and unthinking half-breed. This picture certainly does not offer very rosy perspectives on the future of the population, but, to be honest, there are two other less gloomy circumstances: the first, that the growth rate of the Negro is negative (- 0.62) ; the second, that the index of the mulattoes, although positive, is counterbalanced by a noticeable improvement which is produced by means of the progressive crossing. Brazilian writers know a layer of “superior mulattos” whose disposition and social conduct is undoubtedly better, depending on the quantity of European blood injected and the consequent eugenicism that attenuates the physical forms themselves, in the Caucasian sense.

From the ethnographic point of view, it is not possible to isolate a special patrimony of the black or mulatto population, as a whole, because the decidedly urbanistic attitude of its agglomerations makes it a slavish imitator of the European way of life. Also worthy of study is the inverse influence, that is, that exerted on folklore and even on art, by the ways and customs of the Negroes. It is shown above all in some dances (coco and samba) and in rhythmic compositions of popular literature (modinhas).

If we go on to study the diffusion of the Brazilian indigenous, we find the greatest densities in the Matto Grosso, and in the northern states, Piauhy, Maranhão, Pará, Ceará, and most importantly Amazonas, where, according to official figures, it should represent the 50%, but it is easily something more, given the approximate value of the censuses of the Indians, who, due to their nomadic life and partly because of their inaccessibility, still escape the rigor of statistics. Abandoned by the colony’s entrepreneurs in their search for labor, and replaced by the black slave, the Indian gradually retreated before the vanguards of men who organized the territory for the purposes of agriculture and industry, to be reduced where currently remains, that is, in the vast area of ​​forests and pastoral extensions. Many nuclei still practice their original life (small hunters and gatherers), others, especially those formed by Mestizos, weakly participate in the economic life of the country, in the most elementary form, of the extraction of native products, such as rubber, cinchona, sarsaparilla, ipeca and other medicinal or industrial substances. The indigenous, therefore, is the characteristic resident of unorganized places with economic life, that is, of the forest and of the sarsaparilla, ipeca and other medicinal or industrial substances. The indigenous, therefore, is the characteristic resident of unorganized places with economic life, that is, of the forest and of the sarsaparilla, ipeca and other medicinal or industrial substances. The indigenous, therefore, is the characteristic resident of unorganized places with economic life, that is, of the forest and of the sertão. With this untranslatable word (read: sertón) the Brazilians designate the country without houses or roads, where, according to Denis’s synthesis, circulation has not produced any kind of “comfort”, where every encounter is an event, and one often travels with compass; where you live from the provisions you bring with you and from hunting, you sleep with your head on the saddle.

Brazil Ethnology

Brazil Ethnology of the Immigrant Population
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