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Paths of exclusion in Brazilian empire: indigenous compulsory labor in road construction in the Minas Gerais province (1840-1870)

Grant number: 22/09128-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2023
Effective date (End): March 14, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Brazil
Principal Investigator:André Roberto de Arruda Machado
Grantee:José Henrique Lima Santos
Host Institution: Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (EFLCH). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Guarulhos. Guarulhos , SP, Brazil


An analysis of the modes of compulsory labor practiced in road construction in Minas Gerais from 1840 to 1870 is being carried out with a specific focus on recruitment methods of indigenous populations, that lived in the eastern part of the province, bordering Bahia, Espírito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro. Despite the absence of legal backing, rulers, military personnel, and settlers continued to recruit indigenous labor. In broad terms, this research aims to resize the 19th century indigenous labor debate. Thus, the forced recruitment of indigenous people did not occur only in Minas Gerais' "eastern backlands," but was a mechanism used by emerging nation-states throughout the world. In this case, the spatial cutout is justified since the region was among the last refuges where indigenous groups tried to avoid contact with surrounding society. The situation begins in 1840 when a new state policy is being discussed for indigenous populations nationwide. Also during this period, other road projects seeking to reach Espirito Santo's coast were summarized. By 1870, the state policy of "catechesis and civilization" had become pragmatic, and railroad expansion and road construction overlapped.A primary source used is the Public Archive of Minas Gerais, organized by the Research Center for Economic and Demographic History (NPHED), an organization integrated into CEDEPLAR/UFMG, which contains documentation on road and bridge construction processes in Minas Gerais. Sources will include reports of the province's presidents, periodicals, and other governmental documents.

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