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Natural Resources and Narratives of Progress in Nineteenth-century Brazil and the United States

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Abstract:

Referred to as “Sister Nations” and the “Two Giants of the New World” in the nineteenth century, the frontier nations of Brazil and the United States had much in common: both were nations of continental scale with immense unexplored (by whites) interiors; both were viewed positively in Europe due to their diverse forests, mineral resources, and potential for agricultural expansion; and both were grappling with some of the biggest controversies of the day, including contentious debates about slave vs. free labor. This essay will focus on the question of frontier expansion and the ways in which narratives of progress in each nation incorporated natural resources and exotic landscapes (the “Great American Desert” in the U.S., and the Amazon in Brazil) into visions for economic development and progress, frontier settlement, and ultimately national identity.

Through a comparative analysis of the reports of the U.S.-sponsored expeditions overseen by John C. Fremont, Clarence King, and Howard Stansbury with the seminal writings of Brazilian authors such as Aureliano Tavares Bastos’ O Valle do Amazonas and André Rebouças’ Agricultura nacional: estudos econômicos, propaganda abolicionista e democrática, this essay looks beyond narratives of progress centered on the construction of machines and technology (railroads in particular) to argue that representations of natural resources were essential to the emerging nineteenth-century nations of Brazil and the U.S. in successfully projecting a modern image abroad. Such imaginings of nation and nature also reveal important insights into the ideologies that shaped the settlement of wilderness areas in both nations, the environmental impact of which is still very much present in agricultural practices and economic development policies today. In doing so, this essay places the U.S. —a nation whose history of frontier expansion is often characterized as unique and exceptional— within a greater, hemispheric understanding of wilderness exploration and settlement.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171241_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Cribelli, Teresa. "Natural Resources and Narratives of Progress in Nineteenth-century Brazil and the United States" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171241_index.html>

APA Citation:

Cribelli, T. "Natural Resources and Narratives of Progress in Nineteenth-century Brazil and the United States" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171241_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Referred to as “Sister Nations” and the “Two Giants of the New World” in the nineteenth century, the frontier nations of Brazil and the United States had much in common: both were nations of continental scale with immense unexplored (by whites) interiors; both were viewed positively in Europe due to their diverse forests, mineral resources, and potential for agricultural expansion; and both were grappling with some of the biggest controversies of the day, including contentious debates about slave vs. free labor. This essay will focus on the question of frontier expansion and the ways in which narratives of progress in each nation incorporated natural resources and exotic landscapes (the “Great American Desert” in the U.S., and the Amazon in Brazil) into visions for economic development and progress, frontier settlement, and ultimately national identity.

Through a comparative analysis of the reports of the U.S.-sponsored expeditions overseen by John C. Fremont, Clarence King, and Howard Stansbury with the seminal writings of Brazilian authors such as Aureliano Tavares Bastos’ O Valle do Amazonas and André Rebouças’ Agricultura nacional: estudos econômicos, propaganda abolicionista e democrática, this essay looks beyond narratives of progress centered on the construction of machines and technology (railroads in particular) to argue that representations of natural resources were essential to the emerging nineteenth-century nations of Brazil and the U.S. in successfully projecting a modern image abroad. Such imaginings of nation and nature also reveal important insights into the ideologies that shaped the settlement of wilderness areas in both nations, the environmental impact of which is still very much present in agricultural practices and economic development policies today. In doing so, this essay places the U.S. —a nation whose history of frontier expansion is often characterized as unique and exceptional— within a greater, hemispheric understanding of wilderness exploration and settlement.


 
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