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Empires of Nature

Jens Andermann

t must have been a strange, indeed uncanny, sight to any wanderer accidentally traveling through the area. For there in the clearing, illuminated by the sparkling campre against the dark masses of the forest and the mountains of the coast fading in the gloomy dusk, the bulk of a human torso bent over the ames where some small game was roasting. But it would not have been so much the man, whose almost certainly dark features now became visible as he looked up again, observing the thicket, who would have made our accidental witness freeze with fear. Much more terrifying, surrounding man and campre amid a strange array of boxes and bags, would have been the great number of animals, of birds, foxes, and lizards, standing motionless, under a spell that froze them in the midst of a leap, or spreading their wings, as if bewitched in the very moment they were trying to escape from this fearful siteas, almost certainly, our solitary wanderer would have done by now. The dark magic worked on the animals of the coastal woods one ne day in the year of 1820 was, of course, none other than the spell of taxidermy. For it was then that the Museu Real (Royal Museum) of Rio de Janeiro, founded some two years earlier, dispatched its warden, porter, and preparator Joo de Deus e Mattos on a hunting excursion to the surrounding coastal range in order to end the museums notorious shortage of local animal and plant specimens. Joo de Deus, the presumably black servant whose multiple skills had already been employed by (and, it may be assumed, largely guaranteed the existence of) the Casa de Histria Natural, more commonly known as the Casa dos Pssaros (House of
N e p a n t l a : V i e w s f r o m S o u t h 4.2 Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press



birds), founded as early as in 1784, was to preserve and prepare his ndings on site, as the citys chronicler Manuel Moreira de Azevedo (1877, 223) recalled: Joo de Deus immerged into the forest and began to hunt; and the bird or animal falling dead was immediately prepared; whatever he killed he preserved. Thus he depopulated the forests to enrich science, and returned laden with different mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects, precious remains of his mortiferous, yet useful and civilizing, expedition. He depopulated the forests to enrich scienceto be susceptible to representation, Moreira seems to suggest, nature had to be transformed into an artifact; that is, it had to be mortied and embalmed: however, in the process of the objects making, what it represented seemed to disappear irredeemably, and the exhibit became um despojo, a remainder or trace of a presence perhaps forever lost. As Timothy Mitchell (1989, 222) suggests, this is precisely the reality effect of nineteenth-century culture in its attempt to conceive and grasp the world as though it were an exhibition, that is, to bring reality into (linear) perspective as an external world-object detached from the point of view of a monadic subject implicitly coded as male and European. To be experienced as real, reality rst had to be made illusory, to prove capable of being simulated, while nonetheless assuming that the distinction between the real and the simulacrum was just as clear-cut as the detachment of viewers from objects. It is particularly telling, of course, that in our initial anecdote a black servant was dispatched inland to assemble and prepare the natural evidence in the face of which the authoritativeand thus, implicitly, whitegaze of science could be enacted: an eye that employs the service of a pair of arms to seize and dissect a land-body and its contents. The Rio museum, then, can be analyzed as an attempt to graspthat is, to simulateBrazilian reality by bringing it into perspective from a viewpoint that, in many ways, emulates and monumentalizes the gaze of the monarchical state itself, a kind of symbolic enactment of the striation of tropical abundance by the plantation economy that provided the socioeconomic fundaments of the Brazilian Empire (Salles 1996, 71; Schwarcz 1998, 3542). However, I want to argue, the fact that this was a state displaced to its own former periphery considerably complicated the geographies of the gaze implicit in this performance. Because, to begin with, identity had to be located both in the objectied, external reality of nature and in the gaze that brought it into focus; at the same time, this double enunciation ensured the inscription of the Brazilian Empire within civilization. In the same way as modern nation-states attempt to represent themselves as one, then, monarchical


Andermann . Empires of Nature

Brazil as represented at the museum was both an object and a mode of display; both what was looked at and the gaze looking at it, while suggesting that the two were really one and the same. In this critical tension, I will argue, the indigenous people as human subjects of, or in, nature, came to be one of the key concerns, as well as the critical point of, nineteenth-century Brazils self-representation at the museum. I will, moreover, pay particular attention to the museums role and its transformations during the last two decades of the imperial, and the rst decade of the republican state, a period when, I want to suggest, the museum exemplies an ultimately frustrated symbolic attempt to reconcile the conicting projects of nation, monarchy, and modernity. As I will show, the institutions attempts after 1889 to adjust to the new regime remained torn between two contradictory desires: on the one hand, to nationalize the apparatus of knowledge, to which, on the other, the nation had to submit itself so as to select the components that would qualify it for a destiny of progress. Once again, then, the problem consisted in how to reconcile forms of representation imported from the imperial centers and forged for the purpose of othering difference, with the need to produce the material evidence of national identity. Museums and exhibitions in Latin America have only recently begun to claim the attention of cultural critics as sites of the performance of modernity, and as pedagogical iconographies of the nation-state prior to the emergence of mass-produced forms of imagery (see, e.g., Andermann 1998, Fernndez Bravo 2000, Gonzlez Stephan 1995, Morales-Moreno 1994, or Tenorio-Trillo 1996). In Brazil, the pioneering research of Luiz de Castro Faria (1949, 1993) has only been followed in recent years by more extensive studies of historical and scientic museums (Abreu 1996; Souza Lima 1989). Regarding the Museu Nacional in particular and its provincial rivals, the important work of Myrian Santos (2001), Maria Margaret Lopes (1996, 1998), and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz (1993, 1998) has to be mentioned. These authors, however, hardly discuss the museum display as performance of an image of the nation-state: while Santoss approach concentrates on acertainly usefulBourdieuian sociology of museum audiences, Lopes takes museums as richly documented case studies of a history of the natural sciences in Brazil. Roughly following the diffusionist view rst proposed by George Basalla (1967) of a European science stretching out toward the peripheries, however, Lopes tends to reduce the peculiarities of its insertion in Brazil to mere anachronisms that have since been progressively overcome. Schwarcz, meanwhile, analyzes the part played by museums in the late nineteenth centurys carnival of race, but she largely restricts her study to



a comparison of the percentage of anthropological subject matter in museums journals, without taking into account that these were actually directed at a rather different audience thanand thus did not necessarily reect the orders ofthe displays themselves. Moreover, her characterization of the Museu Nacional and its provincial peers as ethnographic museums, when most of their exhibition space and published research was, in fact, dedicated to zoology, botany, and geology, misses the point that questions of race, for the greater part of the century, were only implicitly dealt with and displayed at these institutions. This article, instead, focuses on the shifting balance between displays of nature and of man at the Museu Nacional, as a debate by means of material objects and images on the identity and project of the Brazilian Empire.1 In this debate, however, the museum became only to a very limited extent a space for the public and civic performance of images of knowledge. Before entering into a detailed analysis of the moments of this shift, I will try to locate the museum institution at the core of the exhibitionary complex of nineteenth-century modernity, and thus of a particular production of subjectivities related to new, technologically enhanced, organizations of the visual eld. I will then sketch briey the particular articulation of the museum institution with the Brazilian monarchical state before turning, in the nal two sections of this article, to the subsequent attempts by the late empire and early republic to modify and reappropriate an institution now perceived as anachronistic. The spectacle of visual representations of imperial Brazil, after 1870, would be reinvented in the panoramic order of a natural history which, ironically, had by then already been outdated in metropolitan museums by the new, Darwinian principles of display. Well before the overthrow of the monarchy in 1889, however, there would emerge another, panoptic strategy for visualizing the nation, one that by the end of that decade had all but outrivaled the previous order of visibility. While both attempts at visualizing two competing projects of transition to modernity dialogue with contemporary European discourses of science and the museum, I shall argue, they also bear witness to a changing political articulation, at a local level, between the museum and the state. Contrary to contemporary developments in Europe and the United States, where the museum was made into a stage for civic self-improvement, exposing the urban masses to impressive material evidence of evolutionary progress in the image of which a bourgeois, progressive subject was to fashion itself, here it was only the scope of the museum gaze itself that, toward the turn of the century, was extended to large parts of the population,


Andermann . Empires of Nature

assessing their racial credentials to eventually integrate the public. Rather than invite the populace to model itself after the progressive object lesson it would have received in contemporary European museums, then, in the Brazilian case the public increasingly became the object of the lesson, and the museum a symbolic site of enactment of the paradoxical democracy of the old republic.
The Frame of Visibility

Museums are magical spaces: crossroads of desire and thrillsites of encounter and loss vis--vis the overwhelming, yet also constantly retreating, presence of the object-worldand the scenes of an ambiguous dialectic of stimulation and rejection of our own fetishistic investment in that world with longing and awe (Clifford 1985). In his inuential phenomenology of collections, Krysztof Pomian (1990) has characterized the museum object as one that has to be excised, that is, stripped of its functional or exchange value; but, unlike the treasure, its new (and usually raised) value requires public exposure rather than withdrawal from human eyes. Unlike the treasure, too, the museum collections removal from economic circulation is supposedly permanent: its objects have, as it were, moved into a different realm, cut off from the space of their beholder precisely because of their perfect visibility. This art of the excerpt (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1991, 388), moreover, likens the museum to previous cultural techniques of deand recontextualizing material objects, such as funerary and sacricial offerings, reliquaries, or gifts: all these, Pomian argues, just like museum objects, have to pass from one space of visibility to another (which may, in certain cases, be a space of invisibility, so as to expose the object to the eyes of the dead). As secularized sacrices, then, museum objects stand in for something that is absent: they constitute the visible link to that which cannot be seen, but whose presence elsewhere is evidenced by the excised material fragment before our eyes. Museums, in other words, are metonymical machinations at the same time as metaphors of an apparatus of visualization that attempts to elude the gaze. This paradoxical, or even perverse, involvement of the museum in the construction and destruction of material contexts has, in recent years, received much critical praise and condemnation: thus, in a groundbreaking compilation of reections by curators and cultural critics from the early 1990s, we are confronted with laments over the museums monstrous destruction of reference to anything that is not always already museumlike, as collecting is likened to pillaging acts of objectifying an original



context (an area of life) that is bound to lose its integrity in the act of its re-presentation by one of its parts (Boon 1991, 256). Other contributors, meanwhile, claim that it is only in museums that we can appropriately appreciate the work of culture: When objects . . . are severed from their ritual site, the invitation to look attentively remains and in certain cases can even be enhanced (Alpers 1991, 27). In his brilliant study of museums and memory in the bourgeois age, Didier Maleuvre (1999, 20) reminds us that this debate has, in fact, been one of the fundamental controversies of modernity ever since Quatremre de Quincys critique of the ne arts museum in 1815: The idea that museums kill culture . . . forms a universal doxa of modern philosophy. In truth, regretting authenticity seems almost synonymous with esthetic modernity. Meanwhile, however, a strand of thought beginning with Hegel holds that it is only thanks to the mediating work of the museum that artifacts and artworks become accessible to reason: in fact, it is only through the uprooting of false immediacy that the reasoning spirit is liberated from the weight of custom. From this point of view, it is not the museum but its critique in the name of culture as immediate that is conservative, as it
reminds us museums were once called anticultural for practicing a systematic uprooting of culture. This accusation underscores the revolutionary dimension of museums and their invitation to rethink culture apart from the pathos of roots, belonging, and identity. . . . Museums are paradoxical: they shelter restlessness but, in doing so, they build a home around it. . . . The great paradox of museums is that they implement cultures program of self-preservation by preserving the very thing by which culture ungrounds itself, the artistic gesture. (38)

Maleuvre, as becomes plain in this quote, analyzes the cultural history of the Western museum as part of the new techniques of the self emerging after the French Revolution, which is why the Louvre, founded in 1793 and exposing to the populace the spoils wrested from the aristocracy, becomes the cornerstone of his narrative: the museum as a monument to revolution, one that endows with a public, egalitarian visibility what had once been a private delectation for the ruling caste. As Tony Bennett (1995, 38) has pointed out, the displacement of the king by the new gure of the citizen as archactor and metanarrator of his (for it was a gendered narrative) own development, added a performative dimension to museum-going,


Andermann . Empires of Nature

which can be conceived as paralleling and complementing the Foucauldian logic of subject-production through repression. In addition to Foucaults (1975, 34360) carceral archipelago, the institutions of what Bennett calls the exhibitionary complex intervened in the formation of disciplinary and power relations not through penalty and connement but through performative display. Along with exhibitions, fairs, zoological gardens, and department stores, museums provided a set of cultural technologies concerned to organize a voluntarily self-regulating citizenry (Bennett 1995, 64). Rather than only as a history of connement, then, the nineteenth century could also be read, from this point of view, as a period of the opening up of objects to more public contexts of inspection and visibility, thanks to the invention of new instruments for the moral and cultural regulation of the working classes (74). It is important to remember, in this regard, that the kind of object lesson which forms the core of Maleuvres argumentthe self-reication of the present as the triumphant result of revolutionis proper only to certain kinds of museums (it could be called the archtrope of history and ne-arts displays). Another type of museum, however, which emerged, like the history and the ne arts museums, out of the studioli and cabinets of wonders of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuriesthe museum of natural historypresents us with quite a different narrative, one in which the present is reied not as the outcome of revolution but as the culmination of a gradual process of evolution (even if, from a Darwinian point of view, evolution is nothing but a continuous process of small revolutions). At least, this is what the naturalistic cabinet would become after Charles Darwins dramatic reconception of the horizontal order of Carolus Linnaeuss natural system as historical and dynamic, and thus as both subject to continuous change and devoid of any transcendental meaning. In fact, it is possible to read The Origin of Species as a treatise on how to visualize the new invisible of evolutionary time, that is, of selective reproduction: like the historical museum, the Darwinian museum of nature becomes a backteller, tracing the genealogical chain of being according to the evidence of discrete and minor physiological details, rather than according to resemblance, which had guided Linnaean classication (Darwin 1985 [1859], 397434). The gaze of the naturalist, then, like that of the detective, the psychoanalyst, or the artistic connoisseur, reconstructs an invisible enchanement by submitting the evidence to an indexical paradigm (Ginzburg 1990) informed by focused suspicion.



Designed to visualize the problematic point of encounter between (primitive) man and nature, ethnographic and anthropological exhibitions of the nineteenth century stand midway between the revolutionary display of art and history and the evolutionary display of nature. It is also in this interstitial space, which brings the citizen-beholder face to face with his atavistic other, that the state-as-collector imposes itself most clearly as part of the image. The taming, or mortication, of the primitive into a material image that can be watched safely in the space of the museum, materializes at the same time into a quasi-mythical image of state power. To partake in this power (rather than to become exposed to its threatening gaze, as one who has fallen back into the terrible atavism of savagery), we have to let ourselves be coerced into the role of the spectator, to become worshippers of the civic magic of representation. In other words, while looking at the object we also nd ourselves on display, exposed not only to the behavioral control of other visitors gazes (encouraged, as Bennett has argued, by the large and transparent glass-and-steel carcasses of modern museums), but to the stare of the object itself. Nowhere more than in these inferiorizing displays of others, then, does the frame of the visibility granted by the museum become more apparent: a frame which, as we enter it, exposes us to a gaze we mistake for our own.
From Cabinet to Museum, 18181870

Let us now turn to the particular insertion of the museum institution in the context of monarchical Brazil. On 6 June 1818 Dom Jao VI, the Portuguese monarch who had ed the Napoleonic armies in 1807, decreed the creation of a Royal Museum at his court in Rio de Janeiro and to this end ordered the purchase of a city mansion on Campo de Santana, which its owner had offered to sell at a specially discounted price. The institution, the decree pointed out, was to submit to the gaze of the natural sciences the thousands of objects worthy of observation and study enclosed by the abundant nature of this tropical kingdom, which had to be exploited for the benet of commerce, industry, and the arts (Azevedo 1877, 22021). The museum, then, was to pursue a double task, one which, with only slight variations, would occupy it for most of the century. On the one hand, the natural sciences were to survey and classify Brazils resources and thus ensure efcient exploitation of the inland territories that King Joo, since his very arrival, had been wresting from indigenous populations with a vigor and violence unseen since the rst days of colonization (Carneiro da Cunha 1998, 13334). On the other, the arts were supposed to rene natures


Andermann . Empires of Nature

primary resources in the opposite direction, that is, to convert them into not so much material but spiritual value. Nature, then, was to be shown at once as a repository of species and primary resources, a catalogue of objects awaiting commodication, but also as a primordial and irreducible layer of Brazilianness, as the very soil of nationality. Scientic research and collecting in Brazil had already started in colonial times, echoing the new emphasis on the exact and natural sciences at Coimbra and Lisbon in late eighteenth century, encouraged by the Pombaline reforms.2 Colonial outposts for the storage and selection of species to be sent to Portugal included, in addition to Rios Casa dos Pssaros, a botanical garden at Belm created in 1796, or the Seminrio de Olinda, founded in 1798, where the museums rst director, Frei Jos da Costa Azevedo, acted as a professor of philosophy (Lopes 1998, 37). Yet the removal of the entire court to Rio de Janeiro, an unprecedented turn in colonial history, implied a complete inversion of the geographies of knowledge on which these institutions relied. In 1817 the Empress Leopoldina, a Habsburg princess, arrived in Brazil with an entourage including several Austrian scientists, among them the naturalists Karl Friedrich von Martius and Johann Baptist von Spix. Martius and Spix, after participating in the foundation of a botanical garden annexed to the museum in 1819, embarked on a threeyear journey into the interior, published as Reise in Brasilien in Munich in 1827, that inaugurated a wide range of zoological, botanical, mineralogical and ethnographic eldwork in Brazil, from which the museum was largely to benet (Martius and Spix 196667 [182331]).3 A rst account of the collections, published in 1830 (Lopes 1998, 51; Azevedo 1877, 239) comprises not only birds, insects, agricultural machinery, minerals, medals, and indigenous crafts, but also some specimens received from Macao, hunting tools from the Aleutian isles, and several Egyptian mummies, initially destined for Buenos Aires Museo Pblico, but purchased en route by Dom Pedro I from an Italian art dealer. The botanical collection, according to a catalogue published in 1838, only comprised the relatively small number of sixteen hundred specimens; in the course of the century they would increase to around thirty thousand (Lobo 1923, 40). The wide range of materials, both vernacular and exotic, clearly emphasized the museums imperial rather than national ambition, which made it stand out from the similar institutions founded, at roughly the same time, in the emerging neighboring republics of former Spanish America:4 rather than symbolically appropriating, in the name of a new national sovereign, the order imposed on peripheral nature by the gaze and the collectionism of the



foreign traveling naturalist, the Brazilian museum initially attempted to relocate the site of this gaze to what had once been its object or horizon. In other words, its initial challenge was directed not so much against a colonial vision, in the name of enlightened, neoclassical tropes of self-government and republicanism, but against imperial competitors in Europe.5 The task, in short, was to continue exhibiting not only a nation but an empirethat is, to position Brazil as a point of view not just onto itself but onto the entire globe. Along with other courtly institutions imported from Lisbon, such as the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the Royal Treasury, the Board of Censors, the Marine Guard Academy, the School of Surgery and Medicine, or the Royal Printing Press, the museum was to demonstrate the survival of a stately body that in the doldrums of the Atlantic had lost none of its capacity to manage and control a mass of archival knowledge and thus impose its power on an immense portion of the globe.6 After independence, this singular focus would shift only slightly toward a more national concernor, rather, the new, national imagery would retain many of its former imperial characteristics, as the museum remained, even then, one of the stages to theatricalize the monarchys European ancestry and the countrys imperial extension, as opposed to the scattered remains of the former Spanish possessions, fractured, as they appeared to be, into anarchic and barbarized republics. During the reign of Pedro II (184089), who was more eager than his father to fashion an image of himself as an enlightened patron of the sciences, the institution would gradually be modied into a site of production and assembly of local knowledge on Brazil. Under the direction of Frei Custdio Alves Serro, a former professor of chemistry at the Escola Militar, the Museu was restructured in 1842, following the example of the British Museum: collections were divided into four sections headed by subdirectorscomparative anatomy and zoology; botany, agriculture and mechanical arts; mineralogy and geology; numismatics, arts, and customs and traveling naturalists were employed to supply the institution with specimens from the interior. However, when Louis Agassiz, the famed Swiss zoologist, visited the museum in 1865, he would still sneeringly dismiss it as une antiquaille, and complain that exhibits were in a state of decay, poorly classied, and that the sh, except for some magnicent specimens from the Amazon, [did] not give an idea of the variety one nds in the waters of Brazil. You would form a better collection at the city market in a single morning (Agassiz 1868; quoted in Lobo 1923, 20). The museum, Agassiz suggests, suffered not only from poverty; it also lacked


Andermann . Empires of Nature

a system for representing the variety of Brazilian fauna and ora: like other European visitors before him, he was made uncomfortable by not being able to bring Brazil into perspective as a natural order properly arranged before his eyes in a horizontal arrangement of families and classes according to the Linnaean paradigm (as he could in a street market). Bad press from prominent visitors, of course, was particularly problematic for an institution that, during the rst half-century of its existence, had made a point of impressing visiting Europeans rather than a local publicfor which it only opened its doors on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Castro Faria 1949, 34).7 Ferdinand Denis, a Romantic French traveler and the author of Brazils rst literary history, decried as exoticist the complaints of his fellow journeymen about the lack of vernacular specimens at the museum: A certain traveler has observed that at the Museu Nacional of Rio de Janeiro a swan and a robin were being shown. The matter is very simple, and the Brazilians would have a lot to talk about if they noticed all the vulgar birds from their countryside that we conserve in our museums (Denis 1826; cited in Lopes 1996, 71). Deniss account is particularly interesting in that it attempts to take a Brazilian point of view, which makes him one of the few European visitors, if not the only one, to have noticed, in the order of display prevalent during the rst half-century of the museums existence, the purposeful dislocation of the imperial gaze. Surprisingly, though, we nd a very similar impression, some fty years later, in an account by the urban chronicler Moreira de Azevedo, who included a description of the museum in his 1877 guide to Rio de Janeiro. Here we discover not only a series of objects that Agassiz, in his exclusive focus on natural history, had deliberately overlooked on his visit in 1865; we also recognize an underlying principle of order that was not panoramic like the naturalists Linnaean grid, but spectacular:
This museum contains many curious objects, among which we can mention the following: an orangutan, a collection of Brazilian macaws, composed of fty individuals . . . two alligators, one of four and one of eight feet in diameter, killed, in January 1831, in a swamp near Boa Vista Palace by Pedro I, who came to the museum and ordered that they be suitably preserved and mounted. . . . In the Pompeian room, two hundred and seventy artifacts donated by D. Pedro II can be observed;



in the Brazilian archaeology room, one sees a scepter made of compact slate, one meter and seven centimeters in length, and other curious Indian objects. In the archaeological salon: an idol, offered to the museum in 1843; two embalmed heads of chiefs from New Zealand, brought here by Jacques Arang and sent to the museum by the minister Villa Nova Portugal; a cape of red and yellow feathers from the habit of Mamahamal, king of the Sandwich Islands, who gave it to D. Pedro I when visiting Rio de Janeiro . . . ; a statue of Charity donated in 1845 by its creator Fernando Petrich; the skull of an Asian elephant, offered by D. Pedro I; a narwhals tooth of fourteen palms length; a great piece of a swordshs spur, found drilled one palm and six ngers deep into the ank of the war brig Constancia and donated to the museum on 29 March 1830; an indigenous canoe made of a single piece of jutahy bark, and many other indigenous objects. (Azevedo 1877, 23639)

In the same way as his sentences race across the page, Moreiras gaze runs from one curiosity to the next, evoking an aristocratic cabinet of wondersor rather its Romantic imageinstead of a modern museum.8 Indigenous objects are only singled out where they appearin the same way as the elephants skull or the South Sea kings feather capestrange and extraordinary: indeed, it is their singularity rather than their representativity that attracts the chroniclers eye. Rather than seeking to classify the objects, to assign them their place in the Linnaean natural system or Darwins great chain of being, this visitors gaze attempts a kind of material philology binding them back to their donors, foremost among whom gures the emperor himself. Indeed, if the political project of the Brazilian Empire had been, until approximately the late 1860s, not nation-formation but the conservation of territorial unity linked to a narrative of dynastic continuity, both allegorically synthesized in a monarchical body adorned with the heraldic signs of a medieval past and of virginal, abundant nature (Magnoli 1997, 87116; Murilo de Carvalho 1999, 23368), then the museum, in its unique juxtaposition of naturalistic and historical imagery, can be read as an extensive exercise in glossing this signifying body through the display of material objects. This constellation of mutual allegorization also worked the other way round: thus, in 1823, Emperor Pedro I requested some of the stuffed toucans from Joo de Deuss collection in order to have


Andermann . Empires of Nature

their feathers woven into his ceremonial cape, a royal insignia that was to become one of the most powerful symbols of Brazils tropical monarchy (Azevedo 1877, 224; Schwarcz 1998, 7581). Perhaps the deliberate anachronism of these spectacular images of empire should be read, not as dmod as Claude Lvi-Strauss was to depict Rio on his visit in the 1930sbut as a means of imposing order on a reality that was experienced, or construed, as too diverse to t entirely into the coordinates of the European world-as-exhibition pattern. However, after the Paraguayan war (186570) had exposed the limitations of a slave economy in the face of external contenders (Salles 1996, 7274), the Brazilian Empire increasingly found itself forced to reaccommodate an iconography based chiey on the myths of literary and artistic Indianism, centered around the theme of Indian warriors heroic self-sacrice, as the founding epic of an autochthonous, chivalric tradition (Bosi 1994, 91160; Treece 1986, 2000). In order to mobilize patriotic sentiment, the people had to be reenvisaged as a nation-in-armsallegorized, ironically enough, once again in the body of Dom Pedro II, who was now portrayed sporting the simple uniform of the nations rst soldier rather than his former medieval garments, inspecting troops or visiting eld hospitals. Parallel to a reappraisal of the black populations contribution to this new notion of nationality (as freed slaves comprised the larger part of the Brazilian battalions dispatched to Paraguay), scientic discourse played a key role in reassessing the iconography of Romantic Indianism. Not only would the heroic Tup warrior of Romantic literature now be exchanged for the savage Botocudo nomad of science but, moreover, in the museum the latter would be placed into an exhibitionary order that would shift, rst, from the spectacular to the panoramic and nally from the panoramic to the panoptic, in a series of symbolic relocations that underscored one of the key functions of museums in a premassied (in other words, prehegemonic) Brazilian society: to map the image of the state onto the image of nature. In the two sections that follow I will discuss, rst, the modication of the spectacular museum-cabinet of early empire into the naturalistic panorama that, during the last two decades of the monarchical order, attempted to reconcile the imperial project with the necessities and pressures of the modernizing process, and then move on to analyze the articulations of a new, panoptic scientic gaze with the republican order it both announces and sanctions before and after 1889.



Modernizing Empire, 18701889

Following the appointment of Ladislau Netto, a botanist trained in France, rst as interim (1870) and then as full director (1876), a new set of rules was issued in order to reorganize the museum as a center of research, teaching, and display of the natural and exact sciences. In addition to the publication, from 1876, of the journal Archivos do Museu Nacional, a physiological laboratory directed by the French anatomist Louis Couty was set up, and a series of evening lectures on zoological, botanical, geological, agricultural, or anthropological subjects was organizedsome of them given by invited scientists from abroad, and often in the presence of the emperor himself with summaries published in the local press. Visiting hours were extended to three days a week, attracting, if we are to believe Nettos successor Joo Baptista de Lacerda (1906, 45), thousands of people avid to see the objects on display. Thus the Museum was in constant contact with all social classes of the country, from the national sovereign to the most modest proletarian. It would be interesting to nd out whether members of the laboring classes, perhaps involved with early unionism or anarcho-syndicalism, did indeed make their own use of the institution. One thing is certain: the reforms of 1876 attempted to address (and create) a new public of urban middle-class and military professionals and inclined toward the medical, technical, and exact sciences rather than the literary and juridical knowledge of the courts scribes, or bacharis (Sevcenko 1983, 7882). The new division was entirely composed of hard sciences, section 1 now comprising anthropology, general and applied zoology, comparative anatomy, and animal paleontology, section 2 general and applied botany and vegetal paleontology, and section 3 physical sciences, mineralogy, geology, and general paleontology (Netto 1876, 1877). The archaeological, numismatic, and ethnographic collections held in the fourth section, the new museum rules proposed, would be located in a different institution; meanwhile, they would be kept in an annex to the exhibition. On taking ofce in 1870, Netto had already referred to the anthropological and ethnographic collections as the most important of all the sections; for it was only here that the Brazilian museum could outrival its European peers.9 The foundation of a specialized institution, to which the government, as Netto claims in 1885, had already committed itself, would further advance the excellence of Brazilian anthropology, as well as recongure romanticized images of the Indian in the light of science. However, as the project was delayed again and again, Netto changed plans and the ethnographic collections soon became


Andermann . Empires of Nature

a central concern of the museum. Nettos interest in indigenous archaeology rather than in physical anthropology, which would become one of the museums chief concerns under the new republican order imposed in 1889, could be interpreted as a compromise formation characteristic of a moment of transition, an attempt to conciliate the arcadian images of nature and the virtuous allegorical Indians of an earlier, literary and artistic, representation of the empire with the late nineteenth-century scientic racism that was quickly making inroads into the local scientic and literary community. In his Investigaes histricas e scientcas sobre o Museu Imperial e Nacional (1870), Netto elaborates further on the museum he had in mind.10 His pace is not Moreiras excited ramble from one spectacular object to another but a methodical description of showcase after showcase, an extended label. The museum guide, then, must not be read as a mere transcription of a spatial arrangement but as one that inscribes into this arrangement a perspective, a way of seeing, and thus as an attempt to control the performative dimension of museum space as a crossroads of the production and reception of knowledge. As Mieke Bal (1992, 561) writes, the space of the museum presupposes a walking tour, an order in which the exhibits and panels are to be viewed and read. Thus it addresses an implied focalizer, whose tour is the story of the production of the knowledge taken in and taken home. As such, Nettos guide can be read as a peculiar kind of travel literature, a synthetic and instructive journey through Brazil that visualizes the metonymic depths hidden in the objects: it is meant to convert the museum visit into the miniature of an initiatory journey through space and time, the voyage of the archaeologist who discovers the deep and original Brazil. Where, in room 6 of the museum building on Campo de Santana, Moreira de Azevedos philological gaze would be attracted by the Pompeian antiquities, Nettos interest lies entirely with the indigenous exhibits shown opposite, as if suggesting a dual line of descent. Having mentioned the Pompeian collection in one half-sentence, he pauses to describe in detail the contents of showcase 6, dedicated to autochthonous ethnography, then zooms in and singles out a painted adornment, a tiny piece nevertheless laden with signicance:
This curious antiquity, which was found in a receptacle near Lake Arary on Maraj Island, is made of very ne clay, particularly suitable for the delicate paint embellishing it, which



consists of straight, broken, parallel, or crossed black lines on a white background. None of the tribes known in Brazil over the last three centuries would have been capable of producing objects, or instruments of prayer or superstition, as perfect as this curious adornment. The individual who made it was more than an intelligent son of our forestshe was almost an artist of modern civilization; a spirit holding quite developed ideas and perhaps a considerable feeling for Asian art. (Netto 1870,252)

As contemporary indigenous populations are cut off here from any kind of genealogical succession with these precocious and cosmopolitan Brazilians of old, the modern citizen can, thanks precisely to this previous decontextualization, enter into an empathic Einfhlung with those he now claims as his spiritual forebears. What is important here, moreover, is to observe how Nettos archaeological hermeneutics of the indigenous object visualizes the invisible, taking us on a speculative journey into the forest and into remote pasts, an aesthetic experience we can share thanks to the label rather than the object. Before escorting us out of the exhibition, however, Nettos guide draws our attention to a large drawer placed in the middle of room 6, surrounded by the seventeen showcases displaying indigenous life. For here, as if to cleanse our eyes and minds of the impressions of savage fetishism, we are nally made to admire the fetish of capital:
Between this last showcase and that of the Bolivian antiquities, placed next to it, there is a big, glass-framed drawer containing a large number of ancient and modern coins, made of gold, silver, copper, and nickel, from colonial as well as modern Brazil, from Portugal, from Spain, from France, from England, from Holland, from Belgium, from Prussia, from Sweden, from Denmark, from Austria, from Hungary, from the German Empire, from Hamburg, Hanover, Brandenburg, Frankfurt, Bavaria, Wrttemberg, Baden, Saxony, from Russia, Poland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ceylon, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, China, from Switzerland, Italy, Sardinia, Tuscany, Lucca, Venetia, Milan, the Vatican, the Italian Revolution, the two Sicilies, from the United States, from Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, New Granada, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, etc. (Netto 1870, 283)


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Numismatica, thencoins secured from the circuit of trade and thus convertible into singular, auratic museum objectsprovide the necessary balance here, so as to place modern Brazil once again at the crossroads of two lineages: one chain of antiquities cut off from (and thus linked to) the visitors present by three centuries or more of indigenous populations unrelated to this Golden Age of a lost high culture of the Amazon, the opposite chain uninterrupted and ongoing, a continuous and metonymic cash ow that testies to the empires place among the civilized, that is, among the trading nations. Just as nature, in the other sections of the museum, was displayed as a resource of both material and spiritual wealth (or biodiversity, to use a more up-to-date expression), the treasures assembled in the fourth section suggested an idea of heritage related to notions of both identity and accumulation. The state, as a collector of cultural value and as the distributor and arbiter of currency and warrant of trade relations, would thus be located at the crossroads of two axes that form the image of a national economy. A similar constellation of the material and the spiritual in the imagery of the late imperial state can be observed in a series of public exhibitions, of which the Exposio Antropolgica of 1882, organized by the museum and on its premises, was the paramount event. It was understood as a necessary complement to the Exposio de Histria do Brasil, held in 1881 in the National Library, and the rst Exposio da Indstria Nacional, celebrated in early 1882. While these two events proposed new representations of Brazils past and future (or tradition and progress), the anthropological exhibition attempted to reassess and publicly submit to the gaze of science what had been imperial iconographys principal allegory of locality. The exhibition, fragments of which Netto was to expose again seven years later as part of Louis Garniers Exposition de lHabitation Humaine at the Paris Worlds Fair,11 thus paved the way from a primarily archaeological concern with the origins of Brazilian man toward a physiological interest in the different degrees of savagery, in line with what would soon become the museums new role in assessing the racial qualities of the population (Schwarcz 1993, 7175). In 1881, Netto had undertaken an expedition to the coast of Par, from which he returned laden with a large collection of ancient pottery and ritual objects as well as skeletons and skulls sacked from Amanaj tombs on the upper Rio Capim (Netto 1889, 5589). The exhibition, which lled seven showrooms, each baptized for the occasion with the name of a famous Brazilian traveler or scientist, also featured three Cherente Indians



and a family of Botocudos brought from Goiaz and Esprito Santo, who were put on show in a simulated everyday-life environment. In addition to their living bodies, plaster casts were used as life groups in other areas of the exhibition; and portraits painted by Dcio Villares and Aurlio de Figueiredo, two artists soon to become the foremost exponents of the positivist and historicist school, depicted them as representative of their respective physiological types (Barbosa Rodrigues 1882). Lacerda (1906, 58), the museums leading physiologist and future director, in charge of taking anthropometric measurements of the exhibited Indians, later recalled the event as a popular feast of science:
In the showrooms, huts containing the nets and domestic tools of the Indian were constructed, arranged together with canoes and ubs, or sh traps, and gures of Indian hunters, all imitated from nature. The beautiful collections of habits and feather garments that the museum already owned were brought into a more artistic order; arms, arrows, maracs, trumpets, blowpipes, and bows occupied a large extension of the room; the stone axes, grinders, tamping tools, tembets, and so forth, in their regular distribution formed tables inviting comparison. . . . Exhibits of carbon paintings, of remains of birds and sh gathered from the sambaqui gravesites, as well as a topographical sketch of these exquisite formations of caves, and human skulls and skeletons, stone tools, and arrowheads found in them, composed another group that attracted visitors attention. . . . Each exhibit belonged to a particular tribe, thus facilitating comparison between artifacts of one and the same kind, but from different tribes.

Typological display principles for tools, crafts, and other artifacts, so as to facilitate comparison between more and less advanced populations in a linear evolutionary narrative of human development (echoing, as well as providing the natural ground for, the bourgeois pedagogics of self-fashioning for which the museum provided a stage), were being theorized at this time by Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers at Londons Bethnal Green Museum. Pitt-Riverss explicit aim was to convince a workingclass audience all too easily seduced by revolutionary agitation that, in his own famous phrase, nature makes no jump (Bennett 1995, 198200; Stocking 1985, 8). Extinction, on the other hand, was shown to be the


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irrevocable fate of the least advanced peoples, who had failed to adapt themselves. In a similar object lesson, the Exposio Antropolgica, with its peculiar combination of simulated life environments and their scientic dissection in the abstract grid of the typological table, celebrated indigenous life in the aesthetic of the ruin: the public display of indigenous families, surrounded by their tools and artisanry, the remains of their dead and the plaster replicas of their own bodies, actually resemble an autopsy performed in an anatomical theater. At the same time, this refocusing of the museological gaze from archaeological remains onto the surface of the body already anticipated the shift from the panoramic to the panoptic (which I will discuss shortly): the very way in which visitors of the Exposio Antropolgica were enabled to (or at least made to believe that they could) catch a glimpse of the back region of indigenous village life would soon become the gaze of physiology assessing the entire populations genetic qualities and their subsequent ability to integrate the nation.12
Inverted Gazes

In the aftermath of the military coup of 15 November 1889, the physiologist Joo Baptista de Lacerda, as acting director of the museum (Netto being away representing the empire at the Paris Worlds Fair and the Congress of Americanists in Berlin), paid a visit to the new minister of foreign affairs, the Republican leader Quintino Bocaiuva. Politician and scientist seem to have gotten along well, and eventually, Lacerda was to recall a few years later, Bocaiuva suggested the removal of the museum to the vacated imperial palace at Quinta de Boa Vista (Lacerda 1906, 64). The transfer of the collections was only completed in 1892, due to the occupation of the central patio by the Congresso Constituinte, which was to deliberate over a new constitution. In a strange overlap of architectural, scientic, and juridical ctions of the state, the attempts to redesign Brazils legal base and its scientic image coexisted for two years within the walls of a baroque fantasy of tropical monarchy. Crisis, however, was looming over the museum just as much as over the new republican state, whose legal shape was being debated amid mounted skeletons and stuffed animals from the tropical forest. Netto had hardly returned to Rio when the latent struggles between the museum and its foreign correspondents, scientic seekers who had chosen Brazil as their platform to gain an international reputation (Pyenson and SheetsPyenson 1999, 36366), burst into open conict, one that would eventually call into question the very model of the metropolitan, encyclopedic museum



that for decades had made the Rio institution the scientic embodiment of the empire. The escalation of Nettos disagreements with the museums resident foreigners simultaneously indicates the degree to which the Museu Nacional was immersed in attempts to redene nationalist discourse in the immediate aftermath of Deodoro da Fonsecas coup, raising the stakes in claiming the Brazilianness of scientic work and not only of its object. Local expertise in collecting and classifying specimens from the interior of Brazil had been scarce throughout the century, and the museum was relying heavily on foreign travelers and naturalists who had taken up residence in Brazil, commissioning them to collect zoological, botanical, and ethnographic material. Already in 1829, the Italian Ricardo Zani had been contracted to explore Par and the Amazon; but not until the 1850s did the museum have the means to employ foreign specialists on a permanent basis. The rst generation of these, usually French scientic adventurers, would spend a few years in Brazil before returning to their home country.13 After Nettos appointment as director in 1876, a second generation of naturalists, mostly from Anglo-Saxon and Germanic countries, was contracted, many of them holding posts not only as traveling collectors and taxidermists but also as sectional directors or subdirectors, even though most lived in the immigrant states of the South and only occasionally visited the museum.14 At the root of the polemic between these foreign fonctionnaires and Ladislau Netto was the new, considerably more nationalistic set of rules for museum staff issued in 1889. While maintaining the encyclopedic and imperial scope of the institution, these regulations sought to recentralize under the directors authority the competences and budgets of formerly autonomous units, such as the physiological laboratory, and restrict eligibility for future posts to Brazilian citizens; at the same time, they demanded continuous presence at the institution by all members of staff. In response to Nettos autocratic measures, Mller, Ihering, Derby, Schwacke, and Goeldi, as well as Lacerda, resigned in protest. Even though Netto, who suffered a stroke in 1891, stepped down from his directorship the following year, most foreign scientists had by then followed the lead of Ihering and Goeldi, who set up new institutions at Belm and So Paulo (the Museu Paraense [Museum of Par State] would be directed by Goeldi from 1894 to 1907, the Museu Paulista [Museum of So Paulo] by Ihering between 1895 and 1915). The conicts involving Netto and the foreign naturalists in the years of transformation from empire to republic reect, albeit in a sometimes contradictory way, some of the tensions between, on the one


Andermann . Empires of Nature

hand, a capital-based, bureaucratic project of a lettered modernity relying on a powerful state apparatus and embodied by the courtly elite of bacharis, and, on the other, the various dissenting projects brought forth by the ruling sectors of provinces such as Par, So Paulo, or Paran. The claim of the latter, who sought to challenge Rios hegemonic position, would be founded, precisely, on new, state-of-the-art institutions of display and research, concerned not so much with the representation of the nation as with attesting the provinces achievements in modernity and progress. As Goeldi (1894) formulated it, on taking charge of the new provincial institutions the foreign naturalists were also seeking to establish a kind of barrier separating the past and the future of museums, and thus also to draw a line between the archaic former imperial capital and the northern and southern pioneer states, ourishing at the height of the rubber and coffee booms. Both Goeldi and Ihering would use their positions to design highly specialized institutions focusing on local zoology, botany, and anthropology, in a symbolic contest with the Museu Nacional over the richness and exclusivity of the natural resources they explored and exposed, as well as over the most advanced scientic method, thus echoing interprovincial competition for foreign investment and immigration. The dispute with the Museu Paulista is of particular interest here, for Iherings idea of creating a museum specializing in certain questions of zoology (such as mollusks, his own eld), rather than providing a totalizing view of local, or national, nature, called into question the representational link between science, space, and the state that had sustained all previous museum projects in Brazil. From this new point of view, which was not accidentally located in So Paulo, the most technically advanced and immigrant-populated city in the country, not only Brazils romantic iconographies but the nation itself had become an obstacle to the development of a pure and self-sufcient science. In his inaugural speech, Ihering polemically claimed his museum and Goeldis to be the only scientic institutions of importance in Brazil (Ihering 1895, 1924), provoking an immediate response from Lacerda (who had assumed the directorship of the Museu Nacional that same year) that, once again, raised the question of representing the nation:
I would, however, like the honorable director of the Museu Paulista to tell me what he means by a museum organized on scientic grounds, which he claims his own museum is; and which he pretends the museum of Rio de Janeiro is not. . . .



Allow me, then, to ask him this: A museum in which numerous collections are distributed in sections, according to the rules adopted by science, where there are methodically classied specimens, workshops of taxidermy and assembly, a botanical garden, and a rich herbarium like no other in Brazil; which has a library containing rarities as well as the most recent publications from all the branches of the natural sciences, which has laboratories well-equipped with the most modern devices and instrumentsis this a museum organized on scientic grounds, or not? (Lacerda 1896; quoted in Souza Lima 1989, 31)

A modern museum, as Lacerda and Ihering agree, is a site of not only display but also experimentation. The political implications of this pure and disinterested experimental science were, however, immediately linked to ongoing discussions on race and the nation concerned with the construction and argumentative foundation of new forms of property and labor relations, and of coercion of the urban and rural workforce following the abolition of slavery in 1888. In a controversial article published in the state of So Paulos ofcial presentation at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition of 1905, Ihering recommended the extermination of the Caingang Indians of the paulista hinterland as a means to accelerate industrial progress and inland colonization. Lacerda, meanwhile, was also the chief ideologue of branqueamento, and, as ofcial Brazilian delegate to the rst International Conference on Race in Geneva in 1911, expressed the view that within a century Brazil would have achieved the complete whitening of its population (Schwarcz 1993, 11). A new, militant physiological emphasis, then, now turned the museum gaze outward to transform the people into the object of a new museology, one which instead of arranging groups and species in the horizontal and normative order of the Linnaean panorama sought to predict (and establish the laws guiding) its possible alterationsdegenerations, abnormities, mutationsand to assess the usefulness of populations and their miscegenations, thus submitting communal and individual bodies to a new form of biopolitics. This new, panoptic concern turned the museum from a site of storage and exhibition of natural phenomena into one of planning future modications of an imperfect nature, as Lacerda argues in his own museum guide, Fastos do Museu Nacional (1906, 72): We must understand that nowadays the museums mission is not limited, as it used to be, to that of a simple depository


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of interesting objects exposed to the gaze of the public, which often does not even know how to make the most of them. Its eld of action is much vaster, because it includes today the investigable part of science, the experimental research as well as the systematizing, coordination, and classication of natural species and collections. Lacerdas guide is, in fact, a striking example of that inversion of the museum effect so masterfully plotted by Jorge Luis Borges in Tln, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1990, 43143), in which the encyclopedic form folds back onto its own contents and destroys them. For, whereas Nettos guide lays out before our eyes the panoramic distribution of showcases, every now and then zooming in to highlight individual objects and delve into the metonymic chains of meaning attached to them, Lacerda a priori unfolds a millenary narrative of natural and human migrations and miscegenations, which he then forces onto individual objects that nonetheless remain unrelated among themselves, their only link being the one to Lacerdas narrative, from which they jump out at us, while the museum fades into a blurry, undened, yet all-embracing background space. It is the triumph of label over object, as if echoing the famous phrase coined in 1891 by George Brown Goode (quoted in Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1991, 395), head of the Smithsonian Institution: An efcient educational museum may be described as a collection of instructive labels, each illustrated by a well-selected specimen. This same inversion causes Lacerdas guided tour, eventually, to turn from a description of the Museu Nacional into a description of the nation, as reality and its representation become undistinguishable:
Civilization is entering the sertes of Brazil: in less than a century the indigenous tribes will have disappeared, and it will be difcult to nd in their descendants a trace of the primitive race. Cross-breeding between Indian and white is rare among us compared to that of white and black. We can easily understand that this is how it must be, because these two races lived in intimate and continuous contact with one another in the populated centers; whereas the indigenous tribes remained far from the civilized areas occupied by the white race. As a worker, the Indian is unquestionably inferior to the black; he is more agile than the latter but his physical resistance and muscular strength are sensibly less. We have measured with a dynamometer the muscular strength of adult individuals belonging to the Boror,



Botocudo, and Cherente tribes, and the instrument showed a force below that observed in white and black individuals. (Lacerda 1906, 100101)

According to Lacerda, anatomical inferiority, rather than expulsion from communal lands, systematic torture, famine, and disease, the collateral effects of peripheral capitalism at the height of the Amazonian rubber boom (Taussig 1987, 3135), accounted for the decimation, unusually vast even by Brazilian standards, of the indigenous population since the proclamation of the republic. Once again, the museum had managed to transform history into nature: but then, nature had now ceased to be an empire, a harmonious and stable order, and had turned into the Darwinian republic of predators and capitals.

1. As I hope will become clear, I employ the notion of empire in a strictly historiographical sense: as Ricardo Salles (1996) has argued, with regard to Brazilian history between 1822 and 1889, the concept should be read with Habsburgian Austria or tsarist Russia in mind, rather than French and British imperialism. Empire, then, stands here in the rst place for what is perceived as a successful alternative to the former Spanish American possessions, one that assumes and preserves the colonial legacy based on a cultural and ideological valorization of territorial extension and abundance, and on a politics of transaction of competing elite factions through the arbitrating powers of the monarch (theorized in 1855 by the conservative politician Jos da Rocha). In terms of the display of material culture, as we shall see, this particular imperial state remained prone, well into the second half of the nineteenth century, to an exhibitionary aesthetic associated with the aristocratic cabinet of marvels rather than with the encyclopedic museum of high imperialism: in Stephen Greenblatts (1991) terms, we could argue that it was meant to evoke the sublime object of wonder rather than generate the systematic and disciplined understanding of resonance. 2. On the emergence and circulation of enlightened tropes and institutions in eighteenthcentury Portugal and their resonance in Brazil, see Cruz Ferreira 1999 and Neves 1999. 3. A Bavarian naturalist and botanist best known for his epoch-making work on Brazilian ora, Martius (17941868) not only published widely on palm trees and


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potatoes, but also on indigenous languages, literature, and the history of Brazilian nation formation. In 1867, once again in collaboration with Spix, he published Beitrge zur Ethnographie und Sprachenkunde Amerikas, zumal Brasiliens [Contributions to the ethnography and linguistics of America, especially Brazil], one of whose central concerns was the origin of American mana widespread and inuential debate in nineteenth-century ethnographic and archaeological writing. In a secular version of earlier disputes about the humanity or animality of Indians, nineteenth-century scientists discussed whether the Indians backwardness was a result of their primitivity (that is, of their belonging to an earlier stage of nature, still close to Jean-Jacques Rousseaus Golden Age), or if they had not rather degenerated from a former cultural bloom into a state of secondary primitivism, as a group of German idealist philosophers, known as the Freiburg circle, maintained (Azevedo 1994, 41819). Martius supported the latter position, suggesting that, savagized rather than savages, the Brazilian Indians represented the disjecta membra of extinct indigenous empires. When the Instituto Histrico e Geogrco Brasileiro, an elite society of learned gentlemen chaired by the emperor himself, proposed an essay contest in 1844 on the topic of How to write the history of Brazil, it was Martius who, a year later, submitted the winning text, one of the rst attempts to theorize mestiagem as a catalyst of Brazilian national history, the specicity of which lies in the fusion of three races: The winning project, writes Lilia Moritz Schwarcz (1993, 112), proposed a formula, a way of understanding Brazil. The idea was to correlate the countrys development with the specic striving toward perfection of the three races that composed it. 4. Contemporary institutions in neighboring countries were usually set up for the purpose of collecting and classifying the totality of national fauna and ora, as a means of endowing emergent territorial units with an enduring, naturalized image of cohesion. Among the most important examples are the Museo Nacional in Santiago de Chile, founded in 1822, and the Museo Pblico de Buenos Aires, founded in 1823. Even though the actual inauguration of both institutions took place a few years after that of the Brazilian museum, rst attempts had already been made at the beginning of the independence movements (foundational decrees being issued in Argentina as early as in 1812, and in Chile in 1813). On the Museo Nacional see Schell 2001; on the Museo Pblico see Andermann 2002, part of the virtual exhibition Relics and Selves: National Iconographies in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile (18801890) of the Iberoamerican Museum of Visual Culture.



5. It is interesting to note, however, that in its initial years the museum, due to the lack of vernacular expertise, principally operated as a mediator between the imperial state and foreign expeditioners, for whom it helped to secure ofcial protection in exchange for a modest share of the specimens the parties brought back from their travels. In spite of its imperial aspirations, the museum was thus forced to negotiate constantly with naturalists from the very countries whose scientic hegemony it was seeking to challenge: in order to acquire complete classied collections, it had little choice but to buy them from foreign specialists, as in the case of the Werner collection of minerals, purchased from the German geologist Gottfried Pabst von Ohain in 1818 for twelve thousand reis. Only after the declaration of independence in 1822 and the appointment as minister to the court of Jos Bonifcio de Andrade e Silva, an illuminated reformer and a trained mineralogist, did the local authorities seem to take a rmer stand on the museums claim to items harvested by visiting naturalists (Lopes 1996). 6. On the concept of empire as an archival ction, see Richards 1993. 7. Illustrious visitors to the institution included, for instance, Hyacinthe de Bougainville, son of the great navigator, who arrived at Guanabara Bay in 1825 in command of the frigate Le Thtis and the corvette LEsprance on his way around the globe. His memories of a visit to the museum conclude: As it is set up, or rather as it was then, this museum is highly recommended for viewing, and the way the mineralogical sectionthe only one that was nished has been organized, clearly demonstrates that it is not due to the lack of taste or want of instruction that a kind of disorder reigns among the other pieces. This one is splendidly rich in precious stones, and every sample has been classied and numbered in a way that makes it impossible to mistake its nature (Bougainville 1837, 612). Aubert du Petit-Thouars (1840, 62), a French botanist who visited the museum a dozen years after Bougainville, was less generous in his account: The Museum, situated on the most beautiful square in Rio de Janeiro, is remarkable only for the order and cleanliness to be found there; it is rich in ornithology and mineralogy, but still poor in all other elds; it is little visited and does not seem to be to Rio de Janeiro more than a scarcely useful object of luxury. 8. Early modern wonder cabinets were, of course, very different from the image of picturesquely decaying mumble-jumble that romanticism fashioned of them. Modeled principally on Plinys Historia naturalis, wonder cabinets aimed to reconstruct in miniature the cosmic order inherent in the scattered fragments of the material world, so that this orders recovered image would mirror the imposition and reproduction of worldly order by the aristocratic sovereign


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who owned the collection, and whose image featured centrally in it, mostly at the cross-point of the axis of natural and manufactured objects, in portraits of his ancestors and other famous collectors, and in other works of art representing mans embellishment of natures forms. See, for example, Eva Schulzs (1994) discussion of early modern museological tracts and Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregors (1985) study of wonder cabinets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 9. This is the museums most important showroom. I say the most important because, to the vast and rich mineralogical cabinet (showroom no. 5), of which we have already given a rough sketch, we might oppose equal if not better ones in the European museums, whereas this showroom holds the most complete ethnographic collection of our numerous indigenous tribes ever to have been displayed (Netto 1870, 266). 10. It is necessary here to stress the fact that Nettos museum guide is previous to Moreira de Azevedos: rather than as reecting a modernized order of display already in place, it should be read as the outline of such an order, one that, as Moreiras text seems to suggest, had still not been translated into the actual space of the exhibition seven years later. But then, Moreiras account need not necessarily be an objective depiction either: whereas Nettos guide points to the future (of science and of the empire), Moreiras clearly points toward the past. There is, I would like to suggest, a point in this disagreement between visitor and curator about the performative dimension of museums, one that Michael Baxandall (1991) has attempted to formulate as a multiple interaction between the producers, museumizers, and visiting observers of objects, whose sometimes conicting attitudes intersect in the space separating object from label. 11. The Exposition Rtrospective de lHabitation Humaine, organized by Louis Garnier, the eclecticist architect of the Opra de la Bastille (an exact copy of which was to be erected in Rio de Janeiros city center), featured an impressive range of monumental buildings erected along the Seine, divided into three principal groups: the prehistorical period, the historical period, and isolated civilizations. As a subgroup of the latter, the indigenous populations of America were represented by three model homes, one of peaux rouges of the North American prairies, as well as an Aztec and an Incaic building, which Garnier had reconstructed following archaeological treatises and museum catalogues. Within the Maison Inca Netto showed a number of objects of Amazonian Indians, especially Botocudos and Jvaros, in what he called a museu retrospectivo: cups, urns, clubs, axes, spears, ritual objects, a shrunk human head, and several of Villaress and Figueiredos oil paintings commissioned by the museum in 1882. See Barbuy 1996, 22829.



12. Living people exposed at nineteenth-century museums and fairs were either made to stage recreations of cultural performances or the drama of everyday life itself. As objects of exhibition, these performances of authenticity were posited in an apparently hermetic illusionary space fenced off from the visitors point of view, thus creating the illusion of everyday life (of an imaginarily entire back region of other peoples intimacy) glimpsed at without the other being able to return this gaze: the museographic framelike the panopticon relies on the noninvertibility of the gaze, and this is what morties the other, rather than his or her installation in a showcase. See Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1991, 40513. 13. Jean Thodore Descourtilz, an ornithologist, collected samples in Esprito Santo from July 1854 until his death in February 1855; Alfred Sohier de Gand, a naturalist and merchant of botanical and zoological specimens, was sent to the provinces of Par and Amazonas in 1855; Louis Jacques Brunet, a Frenchman living in Pernambuco, was contracted to collect in the Amazon region between 1860 and 1861; and Jules Audemars de Brassus held the position of traveling naturalist from 1863. Another compatriot, Arsne Onessim Baraquin, was granted, in exchange for sending samples of his collections from Par and Amazonas, the title of honorary naturalist. See Lobo 1923 and Lopes 1996. 14. The rst foreigner to assume a permanent position was Lutz Riedel, a German botanist who participated in the Russian exhibition to Matto Grosso commanded by the baron Langsdorff in 182628. In 1842, when the museum was divided into separate sections, Riedel was appointed as director of the botanical section, a post he was to hold until his death in 1861, to be succeeded by Netto. Theodor Peckolt, a German, was the rst head of the chemical laboratory; Charles Frederick Hartt, a U. S. geologist and paleontologist who had been a disciple of Agassiz at Harvard and a professor at Cambridge, directed the geological section in 1876 and 1877, to be succeeded by his compatriot Orville Adalbert Derby. Wilhelm Schwacke, Fritz Mller, and Hermann von Ihering, German zoologists living in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul (who, like Derby, would eventually move to the Museu Paulista after resigning from their posts in the capital), held titles as traveling naturalists, and their Swiss colleague Emil August Goeldi, who was later to assume the direction of Belms Museu Paraense, was subdirector of the zoological section from 1885 to 1890. Among these, Mller demands attention for his Fr Darwin (1864), a complex discussion of the law of ontogenesis, dedicated to his friend and correspondent Charles Darwin, that is considered the rst


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major theoretical scientic work published in Brazil. The book relied on experimental research Mller had carried out in the frontier areas of Santa Catarina.

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