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The making of nature, as much as politics, emerges as a contested process that must be understood outside of conventional geographic and historiographical boundaries. Some may feel that my trans- national take on the Amazon is redolent of colonialist literary produc- tion, marketed as it was for domestic consumption. Ultimately, if all regions are made up of networks of social linkages and understand- ings that transcend bounded notions of place, any transnational method can only go so far or deep in narrating the historical past.

Of greater importance is that a transnational optic need not jettison region- and nation-based analyses of the historical formations of race, space, class, culture, politics, or nature; nor need specialization in any historical sub- field restrict practitioners to a singular methodology or research agenda. Through a composite of synchronic snapshots, multisited in nature and often thick in descriptive content, this book focuses on an array of war-era mediators involved in the making of the Amazon, bearing in mind that "what are called environments, that is relations between people and nature, get made and remade not so much in the plans but in the process.

Chapter 2 traces the origins and objectives of U. Chapter 3 explores how Brazilian and U. Chapter 4 analyzes the socioenvironmental factors that led tens of thousands to mi- grate from northeastern Brazil to the Amazon during the war. Chapter 5 assesses the varied wartime outcomes and historical legacies in and for the Amazon region. The epilogue, tacking from the s through the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development of , charts the Amazon's political reappearance as global ecological sanctu- ary, highlighting both historical links and counterpoints to the war era.

While introductions to contemporary accounts of the Amazon often begin by rattling off a list of superlatives that seemingly provide readers with definitive answers, this one closes with them to pose fundamen- tal questions. At 2,, square miles, the Amazon Basin is three- quarters the size of the continental United States, and a million square miles larger than all of Europe exclusive of Russia. Covering two-fifths of South America and three-fifths of Brazil, the Amazon Basin contains one-fifth of the planet's available fresh water, one-third of its evergreen broad-leaved forest resources, and one-tenth of its living species.

The Amazon River, the longest in the world at 4, miles and the most voluminous, has some 1, tributaries, seven of which are over 1, miles long. And the Amazon's forests, with rainfall averages of 2, millimeters 7. Who has brought such inventories to light? Why have the realities that they represent carried diverse social meanings?

How has their significance evolved over time? While residents of the more industrial states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio Grande do Sul looked upon the rest of Brazil with condescen- sion, he affirmed, they exhibited "indulgent imperial pride in the uncharted Amazon empire. Whereas elites once shunned discussion of the Amazon because it conjured images of a nation consisting largely of "vast jungled wildernesses, filled with poisonous insects and unpleasantly savage Indians," many had since decided that "there is the future South America.

In- deed, the nationalization of the Amazon "question" represents one of the dramatic transformations in twentieth- century Brazilian politics. Its origins can be traced to the first government of Getulio Vargas , and particularly to the authoritarian period of the Estado Novo , when the rehabilitation of Amazonia morphed from a localized oligarchic longing into a state-backed crusade.

While the economic nationalism of the Vargas regime has been extensively explored, this chapter examines the efforts of state officials and elites to promote the regional development of the Amazon. Rising national and global demand for rubber offered new bidders for Amazonian latex. Geopolitical doctrines legitimized the military's quest to colonize the Amazon and tap its natural resources. And the Vargas dictatorship, disbanding the legisla- ture, banning political opposition, and blaring official propaganda, upheld the development of the Amazon as a nationalist imperative.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that another full-blown, state-driven program to develop the Amazon would recur decades later in Brazil under military rule. Yet if nature, regions, and nations are produced from the power-laden struggles involving discrete human and nonhuman mediators, the task here too is to examine their protagonists during the Vargas era. Among human mediators, the Amazon's new-found resonance dur- ing the Estado Novo reflected its embodiment of multiple aspirations in a society undergoing tumultuous change.

Industrialists in southern Brazil favored access to cheap raw materials, tariffs, and subsidies, while Ama- zonian producers and traders clamored for higher prices for forest com- modities. Sani- tarians groomed robust workers to sustain national development, while forest peasants resolved to use their bodies as they saw fit.

Intellectuals searched for Brazil's organic roots, while technocrats heralded its future. Policymakers and profes- sionals trumpeted the potential of science, technology, and state planning to remake nature and society in the Amazon. And elite pronouncements compartmentalized the Amazonian region and the purported cultural lag 10 Chapter 1 of its populations, even as the centralization of state power and the expan- sion of industrial capitalism deepened national integration.

Socioeconomic, environmental, demo- graphic, and epidemiological factors in the Amazon hindered the flow of capital, the rule of law, the control of labor, the extension of social ser- vices, and popular identification with the nation-state. An area of roughly 1,, square miles, the Brazilian Amazon comprised 54 percent of national territory in Yet its population of between one and a half and two million, an average density of one inhabitant per square kilo- meter, represented less than 5 percent of the national total.

The Amazon's economic stability and long-term growth, moreover, seemed forever hostage to cycles of commodity booms and busts, sea- sonal harvesting of forest products, mobility of labor, and dependency on imports of food and consumer goods. As Agnello Bittencourt noted in his survey of the state of Amazonas The economic life of Amazonas is based on the extraction of forest products, chiefly rubber and Brazil nuts.

The commercial and finan- cial activity of the State is always dependent on the prices of these commodities, which are, for their part, at the mercy of speculative schemes and other unforeseeable circumstances. When rubber prices dropped, workers abandoned the properties, com- mercial firms collapsed, and public finances contracted. But when they rebounded, "everything comes to life again: Ob- servers spoke of two classes in the Amazon. An urban elite of largely Por- tuguese, Middle Eastern, and Sephardic Jewish descent possessed trade goods, ships, docks, warehouses, and processing mills; in the country- side, absentee landlords claimed the most accessible territories along the rivers in vast, uncultivated holdings that extended far beyond legal property lines.

This class also included small farmers relegated to far-off, meandering channels igarapes and burdened by usurious terms of credit, punitive taxes, and lack of formal land title. Western medical care, best in Belem and Manaus— the capitals of Para and Amazonas with respective popu- lations of , and 90,— eluded most locales; populations scat- tered over vast territories with slow forms of transportation relied on botanical medicines and an irregular supply of overpriced, and often adulterated, drugs.

But tributaries east of the Madeira river are interrupted by rapids within miles of the main trunk; those to its west, such as the rubber-rich Purus and Jurua rivers, accommo- date larger boats in upriver regions only during the rainy season from November- December to April-May. In the Northern Hemisphere, environmental deter- minist theories condemned hot climates for ingraining indolence and inflaming passion over reason. Alternatively, detractors who attributed tropical "backwardness" to race, religion, or culture insisted that only "men from the Mississippi would make things hum along the Amazon and the Parana"; or yearned that "when the great valleys of the Amazon and Congo are occupied by a white population more food will be pro- duced than in all the rest of the inhabited world.

A Centuries-Long State Ambition Four centuries after Europeans first descended the Amazon river, Brazil- ian state officials still struggled to exert control over the basin's human and natural resources. In , Francisco de Orellana, a conquistador of Peru searching for the fabled lands of El Dorado, had led the first band of Europeans down the great river, which they named "Amazonas" fol- lowing a purported attack by indigenous female warriors reminiscent of classical legend.

Lisbon's success was facilitated by geographic advantage: Based on claims of prior occupation, achieved principally through the establishment of forts and missions, the Portuguese ac- quired formal rights to Amazonian territory from Spain under the Treaty of Madrid of The new colonial boundaries of the Iberian kingdoms in the Amazon— delineated according to patterns of European occupa- tion, geographic features, and waterways —were established by the Treaty of San Ildefonso of Chronic shortage of capital precluded large-scale importation of African slaves, leaving settlers overwhelmingly reliant on indigenous labor.

Comprising over four hundred different peoples, ab- original societies in the Amazon were marked by extensive settlements and fairly sedentary lifestyles. They cultivated manioc, a tuber high in carbohydrates, on the terra firme, where most of the land is of low fertility and deficient in animal life.

They also relied on animal capture, fishing, and agriculture on the varzea, the alluvial forest that is annually renewed by rich silt from the Andes and which comprises only roughly 2 per- cent of the entire Amazon basin. Cultivation on the varzea— although tricky due to the unpredictable flooding of crops, and compromised by the reduction in protein supplies during the high-water season when fish swim inland, birds fly north, and egg-laying turtles disappear— was practicable with large labor reserves.

Epidemics, warfare, and enslavement had decimated the indige- nous populations during the intervening years.

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Reorienting the Ama- zonian economy toward systematic commercialization of natural re- sources, European colonialism and Atlantic trade engendered new har- Border and Progress 15 vesting strategies, residential patterns, and forms of spatial distribution for native populations. Seeking to forge a racially integrated and European-style peasantry in the Amazon, Pombal's reforms barred legal discrimination against Indians and peoples of mixed race and rewarded marital unions between Luso- Brazilian men and indigenous women in an attempt to promote long- term settlement.

Under the Directorate , indigenous peoples continued to be mobilized to collect drogas do sertdo; to paddle canoes and trans- port cargoes; to work on the construction of forts, public works, and in shipyards; and to perform labor for settlers for derisory compensation or under outright duress 42 Whereas an estimated thirty thousand Indians lived under direct colonial control in the Amazon at the start of the Di- rectorate, forty years later the population had plummeted to nineteen thousand because of disease, overwork, and flight.

Originating in Belem as an intra-elite dispute, the rebellion soon turned into a mass rural uprising marked by guerrilla warfare and horrific violence. A half decade of fighting claimed the lives of some thirty thousand people— one -fifth of the Brazil- ian Amazon's population at the time. And the ensuing geographic disper- sal of populations dedicated to mixed subsistence and extractive activities further exacerbated the labor shortage in the province of Para 44 Official efforts to colonize the Amazon during the Brazilian Empire — including the creation of military colonies at Sao Joao do Araguaia and Obidos , as well as state-sponsored and privately administered settlements for northeastern migrants— largely failed.

Crude rubber is obtained from latex, a milky emulsion that occurs in the roots, stems, branches, and fruit of a wide variety of trees, vines, and plants; when treated properly, the tiny globules of the rubber hydrocarbon that float in the viscous liquid can be coagulated and solidified into crude 16 Chapter 1 natural rubber. Rapid growth resulted primarily from the mass influx of migrants from northeastern Brazil seeking eco- nomic opportunity and refuge from catastrophic drought. Bosses advanced merchandise and credit to workers who tapped latex from scattered wild trees, and who exchanged cured rubber for goods, and less often for cash, under highly unfavorable terms.

Moreover, most Hevea grew upriver some 2, to 2, miles from the Atlantic Ocean, far from commercial centers in Brazil and over- Border and Progress 17 seas consumption sites, and with trade hobbled by slow and irregular river transport. Subsequent discovery of the South American leaf blight Dothidella ulei , a fungus that ravaged rubber trees planted in close proximity in the Western Hemisphere, only gave additional pause. The reign of Amazonian rubber proved fleeting.

Brasil Os frutos da guerra Neill Lochery

Indeed, from a mere 65, acres in , Asian rubber cultivation expanded to nearly eight million acres by , and cost one-quarter the price of wild rubber. By , Amazonia produced less than 1 percent of global rubber. The Amazonian tapper's average yearly production of to kilograms of rubber represented slightly less than one quar- ter of the Asian worker's annual yield. Plantation rubber also contained less than 2 percent of impurities and was exported in sheets, whereas Brazil's finest grade of rubber had 16 to 20 percent of impurities and arrived in the form of kilogram balls, which required additional time and expenses for cutting, washing, and purging.

In Obidos, Para, for example, the population fell from thirty thousand inhabitants in to about three thousand in Orton Kerbey, a former U. Between and , sweeping technological innova- tions such as the radio, telephone, cinema, automobile, and assembly line created new ways to think about and experience time and space.

The city long bedazzled weary visitors with its electric -lit domiciles, tramcars and automobiles, public buildings and squares, and its Belle-Epoque opera house adorned with Venetian glass chandeliers, marble pillars, and fine paintings.

Full text of "In search of the Amazon : Brazil, the United States, and the nature of a region"

Manaus contained a number of small industrial establishments dedi- cated to food and beverages, manufacture of rubber goods, and process- ing of leather and animal skins. But the city remained in princi- Border and Progress 19 Figure 1. The Teatro Amazonas, the famed opera house inaugurated in , is the domed building on the left.

Oceangoing vessels brought in manufactured goods and foodstuffs for Manaus and the hinterland, such as sugar, wheat flour, coffee, potatoes, beans, jerked beef, lard, and dairy products. On their return trips, the steamships sailed with forest products assembled in town from the launches, rafts, and small steamboats that collected the commodities on the upper tribu- taries of the Amazon River see figure 1. In October , rubber led the state of Amazonas's exports, dwarfing Brazil nuts, pirarucu fish, and lumber see table 1. Tappers extracted the finest latex horracha find along four principal rivers.

With Europe convulsed by war in September , a global scramble for rubber seemed poised to swing the pendulum in favor of the Amazo- nian trade. Rumors buzzed at the headquarters of the Associacao Com- ercial do Amazonas Trade Association of Amazonas-ACA , which congre- gated representatives from the state's tight-knit mercantile class involved in the marketing of forest products and the forwarding of credit and mer- chandise to producers.

Rubber is immediately sold upon arrival from the interior. The rise in price has given the buyers more confidence and enthusiasm. In his oration in Manaus on October 10, , officially dubbed the Speech of the Amazon River, Vargas outlined his government's intent to remake nature and society in the Amazon. Revista da Associacao Comercial do Amazonas December The Min- istry of Agriculture's Department of Land and Colonization Divisao de Terras e Colonizacao , created in , oversaw the distribution of to hectare plots on public lands, and the extension of credit and technical assistance to smallholders.

The Servico de Estudos de Grandes Endemias sege , estab- lished in , was entrusted with undertaking epidemiological surveys in the Amazon Valley to lay the groundwork for a broad public health campaign. In addition, the state-controlled Servico de Navegacao e Administra- cao dos Portos do Para snapp , a shipping line and dockyards, replaced the teetering, foreign-owned Amazon River Steam Navigation Company 22 Chapter 1 Limited and Port of Para in In , Vargas also authorized the state-owned Lloyd Brasi- leiro shipping line to issue 4, tickets per year to families from north- eastern Brazil nordestinos to work on the rubber properties of Amazonas and Acre.

Resettlement fell under the administrative purview of the De- partamento Nacional de Imigracao dni. Yet many junior military officers and progressive reformers who backed Vargas deplored Brazil's deep regional and economic disparities, champi- oning social welfare policies. The government of Hermes da Fonseca , fumbling to forestall eclipse by the Asian rubber trade, had proposed revamping Amazonia's transportation sys- tem through river dredging and construction of narrow-gauge railways to bypass rapids; the creation of experimental stations for rubber and agricultural cultivation; the establishment of mobile dispensaries and quinine posts for the rural population; the reduction of export taxes for rubber-producing states; and subsidized immigration.

The Brazilian Congress denied additional funding in , and the ascendancy of Asian rubber on the international market dashed prospects for a quick rebound. In , Brazil had imported merely four automobiles along with their chauffeurs , but by there were Border and Progress 23 , cars and , motor vehicles. And although automobiles remained a status symbol for a privileged minority, they had begun to change the pace of life in Brazil's larger cities, and even smaller towns, through the widening or paving of streets, and new opportunities for commerce and leisure.

Since the s, Brazilian legislation had granted low interest loans and federal tax exemption to rubber goods manufacturers who used domestic latex, but Amazonian producers had little incentive to favor local industries over export markets. In , more than 80 percent of Amazonia's sixteen million kilos of rubber was exported, prompting re- newed calls from industrialists and army officials for government regu- lation of the trade, particularly after the outbreak of the European war in While a treaty between the United States and Brazil had emphasized reciprocal trade, Germany offered the cash- strapped Vargas regime a barter system that allowed for the exchange of raw materials for industrial goods.

Between and , German exports to Brazil surpassed those from the United States; and while Bra- zilian exports to the United States over the next two years more than doubled those to Germany, the trade varied considerably by commodity. For example, in , 77 percent of Brazil's total rubber exports went to the Reich, constituting 7. Brazil was particularly targeted because of its abundant resource endowment, including iron ore, quartz, chrome, manganese, nickel, bauxite, tung- sten, oil seeds, fibers, and rubber.

As journalist Mario Guedes presciently noted in , Brazil could only stand to benefit from U. In return, the Brazilian govern- ment pledged to regulate the German compensation trade, relax foreign exchange controls, and expand raw rubber production. Department of Agriculture initiated collaborative research at the Instituto Agronomico do Norte to clone and cultivate blight-free Hevea trees 92 The Vargas regime also leveraged northern Brazil's newfound geo- political importance for hemispheric defense.

Long-distance aviation had placed Brazil's northeastern "bulge" only eight hours from West Africa, and although Germany had no plans to create an Axis bridgehead in the Western Hemisphere, U. While Vargas rejected the U. Landing fields or seaplane facilities were built or enlarged in Amapa and Belem in the Amazon, and at Sao Luis, Camocim, Fortaleza, Natal, Maceio, and Recife Border and Progress 25 in the northeast, allowing for the transshipment of U. Yet efforts to remake nature and society in the Amazon issued from discrete sets of mediators in Brazil.

The heterogeneous group in- cluded Amazonian elites, junior military officers, intellectuals, plant scientists, doctors, industrialists, engineers, journalists, and geogra- phers. Hailing from the bastions of the oligarchy to the newly created bureaucracies and professionalized sectors of the Vargas era, they upheld in varying degrees the dictates of their social class and professional guild, the agendas of civilian sectors shaping public policies, and the general interests of the state.

The "Authenticity" of Regional Knowledge Although scholars have viewed the Amazon as a region invented by geo- graphic outsiders, it is very much the product of insiders as well. As Governor Lauro Sodre of Para stated in One pitch stressed the grow- ing importance of rubber for Brazil's transportation sector and military defense. As Aurelio Pinheiro lamented, an unfortified Amazon pre- sented "a danger for our sovereignty, for our integrity, for the life of the nation, because sooner or later the covetousness of stronger nations will 26 Chapter 1 extend its reach to this abandoned, isolated, defenseless region wedged between the borders of five nations.

Lambasting their "unpatriotic abandonment" by the central government, they sought to shame the commanders of state in Pdo de Janeiro by ques- tioning where Brazil's true defenders resided. Raymundo Moraes, for example, slammed foreign writers and the occasional Brazilian snob for their tendency to "exag- gerate and fantasize [about] our nature, and to misrepresent fauna, flora, water, and land. The Amazon may have been no tropical miasma, but state congressman Francisco Galvao of Amazo- nas reproached forest dwellers for aspiring to "nothing more than having the land, water, and trees furnish them with enviable prodigality.

In , Gilberto Freyre, a paladin of northeastern regionalism, stated: Born in to a rubber boss seringalista from Humaita, Maia obtained a law degree in Rio de Janeiro. Returning to Amazonas, Maia joined a circle of intellectuals whose interwar literary production highlighted the state's history, cultural ecology, and political marginalization. Between March and October , Cultura Politico,, the official Rio-based mouthpiece of the regime, pub- lished various articles on the rehabilitation of Amazonia, including a number penned by Amazonian intellectuals on regional culture.

The Brazilian Military and Amazonian Geopolitics At the time of World War II, the 60,man Brazilian army was pri- marily concentrated in the south of the country, reflecting the historic distrust toward Argentina as a regional rival as well as fear of subversive activities among German immigrant communities.

A border dispute between Peru and Colombia , the status of Dutch and French colonies in Guyana following the Nazi invasion of France and the Netherlands , and skirmishes between Ecuador and Peru further highlighted the tenuousness of national sovereignty in the Amazon. The military foray into the Amazon under Vargas advanced on vari- ous fronts. One literal marker was the delimitation of Brazil's northern borders in a physical and symbolic bounding of the nation-state.

While General Pedro Aurelio Goes Monteiro's proposal to carve out federal territories from the large Amazonian states failed to pass in the Constituent Assem- bly of , ms dream would come true one decade later in September with the wartime creation of Amapa, severed from Para and border- ing French Guiana ; of Pdo Branco, excised from Amazonas bordering Venezuela ; and of Guapore, from northwestern Mato Grosso and a small portion of Amazonas bordering Bolivia.

Colonization within kilometers of the border necessitated authoriza- tion from the National Security Council, while the Ministry of War was entrusted with the creation of military colonies in the borderlands. Thus, in a report to the National Security Council, border inspector Colonel Manoel Alexandrino Ferreira da Cunha warned that Brazil's historic riverine dominion of the Amazon was now threatened by the airplane, which allowed for poten- tial penetration of remote regions by parachute troops, and by a Peru- vian road-building project that linked Lima to colonization areas on the Huallaga River, with a projected extension to the waterways of the Uca- yali.

Ferreira, for example, took up the cause of frontier colonization and defense with the press and the Sociedade de Amigos de Alberto Torres, a Rio-based organization concerned with national issues.

Publications by members

Vargas rewarded Ferreira for his pluck: A principal strand of Brazilian geopolitical thought of the s her- alded the expansion of the nation's sphere of influence over the Amazon Basin, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. In a bid for continental supremacy over Argentina, Tra- vassos urged national development along an east-west axis— one along the Amazon River and a second across Mato Grosso aimed at the resource- rich heartland of Bolivia.

Travassos's ideological eclecticism— melding Rudolf Kjellen's theory of the porousness of territorial boundaries with Halford Mackinder's creed that control of the continental "heartland" held the key to military superiority— championed not only Brazilian do- minion over Amazonia but of Bolivia as well. In sum, Travassos articu- lated, and foreshadowed, Brazil's push for hegemony in South America.

The nation's political elite had long labored to "civilize" the back- lands, as evinced by the suppression of nineteenth-century regional re- volts and the Canudos and Contestado millenarian communities. In a strict scientific purview, they strove to mar- shal medical and epidemiological knowledge to combat transmissible diseases and improve the quality of life and productivity of the region's inhabitants.

For example, the Belem-based Instituto de Patologia Experi- mental do Norte ipen , established in , boasted a hospital and re- search laboratory, and a staff of pathologists, entomologists, and zoolo- gists who conducted extensive research on malaria, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis in Para. More broadly, in identifying pathogens and treat- ments, health care professionals sought to remold social perceptions of nature and politics.

Since the Republic, a cadre of physicians, army officials, politicians, and intellectuals had called for the coordination of public health policies in Brazil. While early projects had concentrated on urban areas and port cities, during the decade of sanitaristas took part in backland ex- peditions to study health and social conditions. Between and , Oswaldo Cruz eradicated yellow fever in Belem by eliminating the Aedes aegypti and their larvae, and by quarantining infected patients during the period of potential transmission by the mosquito.

Two years later, Cruz devised a program for the Superintendencia de Defesa da Borracha focused on a malaria control program targeting its human hosts rather than mos- quito control and eradication , advocating widespread use of quinine and bed nets, and the creation of mobile sanitation posts to administer and standardize doses of quinine to rubber tappers.

In , a medi- cal school was founded in Belem. Two distinguished doctors from Para who studied at the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz— Antonio Periassu and Jayme Aben-Athar— became specialists in the fields of malaria and leprosy, re- spectively. Born in to renowned parasitologist Carlos Chagas, Evandro served as a medical doctor, biologist, and director of the labo- ratory of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz— all before he turned thirty-five.

Evandro Chagas helped found ipen which also boasted on its staff para- sitologist Leonidas Deane, a native son of Para and professor of micro- biology , and conducted malaria surveys in the Amazon for the projected sanitation campaigns of the Servico de Estudos de Grandes Endemias. Indeed, it was his father who had noted that ma- laria was so endemic in the Amazon that rubber tappers considered only its acute feverish state as illness and thus often refused to take quinine, and that spleen enlargement in children, reflective of repeated infec- tion from the disease, was so commonplace as to be considered merely a "swollen belly.

Physicians in Brazil, however, operated more broadly as remodelers of natural and political landscapes. As Julyan Peard has shown, a number of prominent doctors in nineteenth-century Bahia challenged dominant understandings of geography, attributing so-called tropical diseases to social conditions and customs rather than climatological factors.

To be sure, by the s most physicians worldwide refuted the notion that tropical climates impaired human physiology, up- Border and Progress 33 holding that proper sanitation, hygiene, medical care, and personal disci- pline would allow for white acclimatization in the tropics or, at the very least, the rationalized extraction of its natural resources by a reformed native population.

In the Amazon, perhaps the most renowned Vargas-era physician- cum-social scientist was Jose Francisco de Araujo Lima. Born on the island of Marajo in , Lima attended medical school in Paris and in- terned at the Pasteur Institute. Upon returning to Brazil, he practiced medicine in Manaus and held a distinguished record of public service as school superintendent in Amazonas, mayor of Manaus, and federal con- gressman during the Republic.

But Lima perhaps became most widely known outside his hometown as the author of Amazonia— A Terra e 0 Homem, first published in As a physician, Lima's familiarity with germ theory and medical prophylaxis led him to reject climatic explana- tions for Amazonia's social or physical ills. Slamming Baron de Montes- quieu, Ellsworth Huntington, and even Euclides da Cunha for their rants against tropical climates, Lima noted that Amazonia was neither heaven nor hell. Improvements in nutrition, public health, education, and pub- lic policy would enable humans to transform the nature of the Amazon.

Yet Lima's repudiation of climatic determinism was compromised by neo-Lamarckian principles upholding the importance of culture and en- vironment for human heredity. According to Lima, while the environ- ment did not determine physical anatomy, it did shape the psychologi- cal realm: Only "savages allowed them- selves to be enslaved" to nature's whims, he noted, while "cultured and advanced man modifies the environment with the apparatuses that sci- ence inspires and industry produces.

Yet Amazonia's natural and political land- scapes had been anthropogenically shaped and historically patterned rather than psychologically wired, as Lima suggested. And although geo- graphically isolated and subsistence-oriented, Amazonia's rural poor were linked to economic markets through intermediaries who processed their products and furnished consumer goods under inequitable terms of exchange. As a medical doctor, Lima had claimed the scientific objec- tivity to diagnose and cure the Amazon's problems, but his class and pro- fessional bias led to a tendentious rendering of nature and politics: Engineers of Amazonian Development Engineers were also prime movers in the Amazon's transformation, im- planting the infrastructure that channeled flows of people, goods, and information.

Although institutional histories have viewed engineers in Brazil as distanced from political decision-making due to their under - representation in legislative assemblies, the claim reflects a reduction- ist understanding of the political realm. More broadly, engineers spearheaded the re- organization of space and human behavior through the dissemination of new regimens and principles of efficiency, speed, and thrift and the inter- weaving of cities and hinterlands.

Indeed, between and , the Comissao das Linhas Tele- graficas e Estrategicas de Mato Grosso e Amazonas, under the direction of army engineer Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, linked Rio de Janeiro by telegraph line to Brazil's northwestern regions. Cartography, geographic surveillance, and border demarcation were also executed by Border and Progress 35 engineers: And under the aegis of the Servico Geologico e Mineralogico do Brasil, created in , engineers undertook a systematic geological study of the Ama- zon Basin, prospecting for coal and mineral resources and petroleum deposits in the Maues region of Amazonas.

As engineer Pedro de Moura recounted his experience conducting geologi- cal exploration in Amazonia in the s: Bathing was in the river, sometimes with alligators in sight. The monotony was only broken when every forty or sixty days the ship of the Amazon River Line arrived with month-old newspapers. That was party time, just to be able to get a hold of an ice cube. Later that year, the Vargas government entrusted his colleague Paulo Assis Ribeiro with coordinating the wartime transfer of tens of thousands of nordestino men to the Amazon see chapter 4.

Touting the profession's expertise in regimenting human nature, the journal Engenheiro would note: In the meanwhile, a tremendous responsibility rests on their shoulders. Managers of Plants and People As plant specialists, Brazilian agronomists, botanists, and biologists like- wise aimed to wrest order and profit from the forest tangle. As the Belem- 36 Chapter 1 based Norte Agronomico affirmed in The organization of labor [is needed] for the organization of production and efficiency in landholding. Why not make the agrono- mist the mastermind of this organization that, sooner or later, Amazonia awaits.

The journal of the School of Agronomy of Para, for ex- ample, exhorted in In the forests or on the rivers. Moreover, amidst broader societal concern with health, fitness, and eugenics, plant scientists monitored popular diets for nutritional balance and vitamin intake whose scientific discovery peaked between and Following World War I, a number of plant scientists and biologists in Brazil and other Allied nations touted the capacity of their craft to im- prove agriculture, ensure social justice, and bridge national divides.

Yet they would also produce nature through modification, quantification, and representation. Botanists' battle against South American leaf blight, cast as the struggle of science against nature, is a case in point. By nature, rubber trees grew dispersed in the forests of the Amazon, protected against the spread of leaf blight by the foliage of trees of other genera. Geographers and the Delimitation of Amazonia During the Vargas era, applied geography held forth the possibility of remodeling the Amazon through scientific study and public planning.

Given Brazil's territorial expanse, resource abundance, sparse settle- ment, and weak interregional articulation, geographic knowledge had long bolstered claims to political problem-solving. Although repudiating en- Border and Progress 39 vironmental determinism, geographers in Brazil nevertheless natural- ized territorial divides and cultural essences. As an intellectual site where politics, space, and environment inter- sect, geography, like history, offers an ideal medium to foment nation- alist sentiment. Most of the ihgb's nineteenth-century members, however, were self-taught readers of Euro- pean geographic texts and observers of the environment, rather than for- mally trained geographers, since geography had not yet been established as a discrete academic discipline in Brazil.

Among the first generation of professional geographers that emerged in Brazil during the s and s— which included Carlos Delgado de Carvalho, Fernando Antonio Raja Gabaglia, Everardo Backheuser, and Jose Verissimo— several had been educated in Europe and had been involved with the Escola Livre Superior de Geografia, created in In the early s, military geog- raphy became a required subject in Brazilian army academies, and offi- cials with geographic training came to serve in the ihgb and the Socie- dade de Geografia do Rio de Janeiro.

Human nature has shown here a unique adaptability. The ibge's administrative division of the nation held that the "natural region"— defined as a space possessing "typical characteristics in geology, topog- raphy, ecology, climatology, and corresponding reflections in cultural manifestations of human geography"— offered the most effective basis for analyzing Brazilian realities. From its inception in , Revista Brasileira de Geograjia published numerous articles, photographs, maps, and drawings to docu- Border and Progress 41 ment the distinctive flora, fauna, soils, and climate of the Amazon see map 1.

Moreover, between and , the Revista dedicated nine entries to "human types and aspects of Amazonia"— including cowboys from Marajo Island, alligator hunters, and rubber tappers— who were said to define and to be defined by their natural region. Geographers drew boundaries in Brazil: They had not invented, of course, aspects of regional geographies.

Rivers, alli- 42 Chapter 1 gators, rubber tappers, and Manaus's small white population were fac- tors that very much comprised the "natural region" of the Amazon. The day-to-day struggles of an Amazonian extractivist surely had little in common with a Sao Paulo businessman— even if it might with a paulista peasant and Manaus-based import-export merchant, respectively. Yet de- pictions of Brazilian regions as static and distinct entities also reinforced erroneous notions of fixity in time and space, rather than fluidity and interconnectedness.

Moreover, geographers' evolutionary theories, measuring a group's "civilization" by its "independence" from nature, condemned and mischaracterized forest dwellers' adaptive extractive and subsis- tence economies, while upholding prospective northeastern migrants as "more amenable to progress.

Amazonia's Cultural Brokers The invention of Amazonia through varied literary genres and visual arts has been amply explored in the field of cultural studies. In any event, representations of the Ama- zon were not marked by a strict boundary between the arts and sciences: Jose Maria Ferreira de Castro's A Selva , which denounced the brutalization of tappers as a metaphor for social injustice in Brazil, drew on an intellec- tual tradition dating back to the writings of Euclides da Cunha.

And the designation of pre-Columbian Marajoara pottery and Portuguese colonial fortification in the Amazon as official national patrimony was established by federal officials in the newly created Servico do Patrimonio Historico e Artistico National. Modernist writers from southern Brazil, Bopp and Andrade had each traveled to the Amazon in the s in search of the nation's organic roots, inspired by the European avant-garde and the anthropological fas- cination with the "primitive.

As secretary of the Federal For- eign Trade Commission in Buenos Aires, Bopp wrote Vargas in the late s of the geopolitical significance of the Amazon River "the spinal vertebrae" of Brazil , and warned of threats posed by U. Bopp also opined that Belem would one day surpass the Argentine capital in importance due to its greater geographic proximity to New York and London. As a source of information and entertainment, a commercial venue, and the regime's soapbox, the radio had much to sell with and in Amazonia Some radio programs were aural travelogues of the old jungle book genre: The radio station of the Ministerio da Educacao e Saude and the Radio Difusora da Prefeitura do Distrito Federal, for example, beamed forty speeches between and on topics such as agricultural modern- ization, frontier colonization, rubber tapping, and rural uplift.

Brazil's first filmed cartoon, Sinfonia Amazonica, created by the Latini Brothers be- tween and , used the region's flora, fauna, and myths in its story lines. The short O chefe do governo no Amazonas contained footage of Vargas's Amazon River speech of October 10, — an event officially commemorated each year throughout Brazil over the next five years As Brazilian historiography has noted, there was much that was not new, or true, about Vargas's vaunted New State. In response to a questionnaire from the federal police chief regard- ing the regime's efficacy, Carmo stated, "today we are still in the same situation: Amid the twin crises of the Great Depression and the Sec- ond World War, Brazil's industrial bourgeoisie ascended, as did a newly institutionalized technocratic sector.

Vargas created Brazil's first truly co- herent national government with the machinery to distribute aid and co- ordinate development at the national level, although public investment continued to be channeled primarily to the more industrial south. The nationalization of the Amazon "question" during the Vargas era embodied such trends. As I have argued, a confluence of national and global factors propelled this transformation: The Amazon's rehabilitation was launched through regime policies and pronouncements that pro- moted subsidized migration, agronomic research, rationalization of the rubber trade, nationalization of transport, and public health programs.

And it was popularized through nationalist discourse that recast the Amazon as a metonym of Brazil: As Vargas affirmed in his speech in Manaus in October I have focused on the political projects and narratives of discrete class and professional sectors in Vargas-era Brazil, whose diverse truth claims to effect socioenvironmental change in the Amazon were anchored in a combination of scientific reasoning, pro- fessional expertise, and hands-on experience.

These mediators did not invent physical realities of the Amazon any more than they created fix- tures of Brazilian politics or the global economy, but their knowledge claims regarding regional landscapes and populations aimed to control and transform human nature. In forging national integration, they re- inscribed regional and social inequalities in the spatial ordering of the New State Historians of borderlands have long argued that the study of na- tions' boundaries— where geographic and social divides are fortified, transgressed, or blurred— can yield great insight into the formulation and contestation of national identities.

But as a geographic as much as a concep- tual border, and an internal as much as an external boundary, the Ama- zon, in fact, can shed new light onto the making of region and nation in Brazil during the Vargas era. Amazonia redefined the ambit of the Brazilian state under Vargas, much as the regime and its era would come to redefine the region.

What had once been the millennial vision of colonial clerics or the fancy of nineteenth-century European naturalist-explorers in the thrall of science and imperial service was now the pursuit of varied Brazilian government Border and Progress 47 bureaucracies and newly institutionalized social sciences. From the site for laboratory research in the nineteenth century the Amazon became the laboratory of research in the twentieth century.

And what had once been the backstage entreaties of backwater elites now resonated in the forefront of state policies and pronouncements toward a high-profile region. With the advent of World War II, the scramble for raw materials and hemispheric defense would precipitate U. A set of U. Binational wartime efforts to remake nature and society in the Amazon would reflect such overlapping and competing visions. Rubber Dependency and the Lure of the Amazon It is probable that the past two years have seen more actual explo- ration of the basin, more knowledge gained about its physical nature than have all the four centuries since that early conquis- tador, Francisco de Orellana, was the first white commander to traverse it," an American author noted of the Amazon in Although the writer rehashed the image of untrodden territory, "knowable" only through exploration by whites, over the previous years the United States government had sent hundreds of clerks, administrators, engineers, airline pilots, agricultural technicians, and doctors into the Amazon to increase rubber yields, improve health conditions, and study possibilities of raising foodstuffs in the basin.

Americans had turned to the Amazon in search of rubber. Fol- lowing the Japanese invasion of the Malayan peninsula in May , the United States lost access to 92 percent of its supply. But the growth of the iron and steel industry had transformed warfare, increasing the strategic importance of minerals and other raw materi- als as key determinants of national power. Chaired by businessman Bernard M. Baruch, and comprising James B.

Institutional Information

Conant and Karl T. Comp- ton, the respective presidents of Harvard University and the Massachu- setts Institute of Technology, the committee assembled a technical staff, consulted with chemists, chemical engineers, and rubber manufacturers, and heard testimony from government officials and industry represen- tatives.

Product details

In its final report of September , the committee endorsed government development of synthetic manufacturing plants largely on the basis of petroleum as the cornerstone of the wartime rubber pro- gram, and the appointment of a rubber director to oversee policy. Aside from synthetic's start-up delays, the tires of heavy military vehicles, trucks, and buses required an admixture of natural rubber as high as 30 percent to ensure greater resilience, tensile strength, and tear-resistance.

In aircraft tires, where high speeds, resistance to shock, and flexibility at low temperatures were more important than mere abrasion, synthetic was rarely used at all. Between March and October , the State Department, in conjunction with the Rubber Development Corporation, negotiated agreements with sixteen rubber-producing countries in Latin America for the sale of their exportable surpluses of crude rubber and rubber manufactured goods to the United States for a term of years at a fixed price, and the limitation of local consumption.

Brazil, the largest rubber producer in Latin America at the time, signed the first agreement on March 3, By , annual rubber production in the Brazilian Amazon, extracted from wild trees, totaled a mere 16, to 18, tons, a smidge of the ravenous U. As David Harvey notes, "To say that scarcity resides in nature and that natural limits exist is to ignore how scarcity is socially produced and how 'limits' are a social relation within nature including human society rather than some externally imposed necessity.

The com- mittee noted there were two types of "shortages": In most cases, the committee pointed out, the problem was the latter, due to the "The Quicksands of Untrustworthy Supply" 51 use of materials for purposes not essential to the conduct of war; the lack of conservation, inventory control, and the finding of substitutes; and complicated or ineffective methods used to distribute materials and to control prices.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, U. None was successfully pursued. Since the loss of Asian markets kindled U. Indeed, more than just a for- est, the Amazon loomed, then as now, as a flashpoint for deeper Ameri- can anxieties over modernity and national identity. The Reign of Rubber The history of industrial materials differs in their exploration, pro- duction, application, and geopolitical importance.

It has a high abrasion resistance, far greater than steel or any other metal, is unaffected by the corrosive action of most common chemicals, insulates against electrical shock, and can be bonded firmly both to textiles and to steel. As Arjun Appadurai notes, even if we accept the anthropological insight that "things have no meanings apart from those that human transactions, at- tributions, and motivations endow them with.

For that we have to follow the things themselves, for their meanings are inscribed in their forms, their uses, their trajectories. In , for example, the United States consumed 52 Chapter 2 1, tons of crude rubber, and by , only 27, tons, with footwear leading in usage. Along with iron, steel, coal, and petroleum, rub- ber became an essential material, entering into factory and household, farm and transportation facilities, peacetime goods and implements of warfare. Bryan of the U. Department of Commerce noted in , the history of rubber and its adaptations over the previous century— "a very short time in the life of mankind and the world"— was "symbolic of the progress achieved by man in the past years.

From to , With its vast land area and hinterland of scattered and isolated settlements and relatively low popu- lation densities, the United States had a greater need for individualized automotive transportation than the nations of Western Europe. More im- "The Quicksands of Untrustworthy Supply" 53 portant, a higher per capita income and more equitable income distribu- tion allowed Americans to take advantage of mass automobile ownership a generation ahead of Europeans. These market conditions, combined with low raw material costs and a chronic shortage of labor, especially skilled workers, encouraged the mechanization of industrial processes in the United States, necessitating the standardization of industrial prod- ucts and volume production.

The automobile boom of the s also owed to an unprecedented expansion of consumer installment credit to finance sales, cementing the middle-class pattern of purchasing expen- sive consumer goods on credit as a mainstay of the U. Trucks facilitated long-distance hauling, re- ducing the delay, damages, and labor expenses associated with railway freight shipments.


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The automobile decentralized urban space, enabling some thirteen million Americans by to live in communities lack- ing public transportation, and expanding social networks beyond nearby friends and family. Rural families could more readily avail themselves of urban amenities, and migrant workers obtained greater geographic mobility. The automobile offered middle-class women escape from the domestic sphere and access to employment, consumerism, and leisure through a form of transportation promising a measure of privacy, safety, and speed unmatched by public transit.

The car undercut parental super- vision and authority, and abetted romantic adventurers, adulterers, and prostitutes.


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  • It helped to sustain entertainment and recreation based on mass participation, allowed for extended vacations away from home heretofore the privilege of the rich , stimulated the outdoor movement, and fueled strong public support for the acquisition of parklands and the conservation of natural resources. Bridging regional, sectional, and urban-rural divides, the car served to homogenize America's cultural landscape.

    Wherever the automobile went, rubber goods rolled along. An aver- age automobile contained around three hundred rubber parts, but the most prominent, of course, were the tires. As automobile makers in- creased vehicular weight and speed capacity, rubber manufacturers built 54 Chapter 2 larger tires and introduced antiskidding treads to ensure riding comfort. The balloon tire, introduced by Firestone in , had 30 percent more rubber than older tires and twice the air capacity.

    The higher velocity at which autos could travel, in turn, called for four-wheel brakes, while the absence of vibration rattles encouraged more customers to buy closed cars, promoting year-round riding. Faber and Faber, Fifty Years of Dictatorship. Escape and Evasion A Portrait and a Prospect. Travel Book Club, Nazis and Good Neighbors: Cambridge e Nova York: Farrar, Straus and Young, A Wandering Jew in Brazil: An Autobiography of Solomon L. The Azores and the War in the Atlantic.

    Naval Institute Press, The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich. Berkeley e Los Angeles: University of California Press, George Allen and Unwin, British Intelligence in the Second World War. Ambassador on Special Mission. A Year of War, The Memoirs of Cordell Hull.

    Hodder and Stoughton, Salazar and Modern Portugal: University Press of New England, Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, Brazil and the Jewish Question.