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Migrants, Settlers and Colonists: The Biopolitics of Displaced Bodies


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All through the nineteenth century, Madeirans migrated from their Atlantic island to places as remote as Hawaii, California, Guyana and, later, South Africa. Scarcity of land, a rigid social structure, periodic famines and rampant poverty made many embark to uncertain destinies and endure the harsh labour conditions of sugarcane plantations. In the 1880s, a few hundred Madeirans engaged in a different venture: an experience of “engineered migration” sponsored by the Portuguese government to colonize the southern Angola plateau. White settlements, together with military control, scientific surveys and expeditions, contributed to strengthen the claims of European nations over specific territories in Africa. At that time, the long lasting claims of Portugal over African territories were not matched by sponsored colonial settlements or precise geographic knowledge about the claimed lands. There was little else representing Portugal than the leftover structures of the slave trade, the penal colonies and the free-lance merchants that ventured inland. In fear of losing land to the neighbouring German, Boer and British groups in south-western Africa, the Portuguese government tried then to promote white settlements by attracting farmers from the mainland into the southern plateau of Angola. As very few responded to the call, the settlement consisted mostly of Madeiran islanders, who were eager to migrate anywhere and took the adventure of Angola as just another destiny out of the island where they could not make a living. Their bodies and actions in the new place became highly surveilled by the medical delegates in charge of assessing their adaptation. The reports document what were then the idealized biopolitics of migration and colonization, interweaving biomedical knowledge and political power over displaced bodies and colonized land. At the same time, those records document the frustrations of the administration about the difficulties of the settlement experience and the ways in which colonial delegates blamed their failure on the very subjects who enacted and suffered through it. The eugenicism and racialism that pervade those writings, a currency during the age of empire, may now be out of taste both in science and in politics; however, they are not fully out of sight, and the subtle entrance of social prejudice into the hard concepts of biomedical science is still with us. Learning from this example may help analysing contemporary processes of medicalizing diversity or pathologizing the mobile populations, or, in other words, the biopolitics of migration in the 21st century.
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Migrants, Settlers and Colonists:
The Biopolitics of Displaced
Cristiana Bastos*
All through the nineteenth century, Madeirans migrated from their
Atlantic island to places as remote as Hawaii, California, Guyana and,
later, South Africa. Scarcity of land, a rigid social structure, periodic
famines and rampant poverty made many embark to uncertain destinies
and endure the harsh labour conditions of sugarcane plantations. In the
1880s, a few hundred Madeirans engaged in a different venture: an
experience of ‘‘engineered migration’’ sponsored by the Portuguese gov-
ernment to colonize the southern Angola plateau. White settlements,
together with military control, scientific surveys and expeditions, contrib-
uted to strengthen the claims of European nations over specific territo-
ries in Africa. At that time, the long lasting claims of Portugal over
African territories were not matched by sponsored colonial settlements
or precise geographic knowledge about the claimed lands. There was lit-
tle else representing Portugal than the leftover structures of the slave
trade, the penal colonies and the free-lance merchants that ventured
inland. In fear of losing land to the neighbouring German, Boer and
British groups in south-western Africa, the Portuguese government tried
then to promote white settlements by attracting farmers from the main-
land into the southern plateau of Angola. As very few responded to the
call, the settlement consisted mostly of Madeiran islanders, who were
eager to migrate anywhere and took the adventure of Angola as just
another destiny out of the island where they could not make a living.
Their bodies and actions in the new place became highly surveilled by
the medical delegates in charge of assessing their adaptation. The
reports document what were then the idealized biopolitics of migration
and colonization, interweaving biomedical knowledge and political power
over displaced bodies and colonized land. At the same time, those
* Social Sciences Institute, University of Lisbon.
2008 The Author
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Journal Compilation 2008 IOM
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK, International Migration Vol. 46 (5) 2008
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. ISSN 0020-7985
records document the frustrations of the administration about the diffi-
culties of the settlement experience and the ways in which colonial dele-
gates blamed their failure on the very subjects who enacted and
suffered through it. The eugenicism and racialism that pervade those
writings, a currency during the age of empire, may now be out of taste
both in science and in politics; however, they are not fully out of sight,
and the subtle entrance of social prejudice into the hard concepts of
biomedical science is still with us. Learning from this example may help
analysing contemporary processes of medicalizing diversity or patholo-
gizing the mobile populations, or, in other words, the biopolitics of
migration in the 21
The ethnographic study of colonial archives has gathered anthropolo-
gists and historians in a vibrant field where, at least for the last two dec-
ades, both disciplines expanded their scopes and converged in methods,
preoccupations and formulations. Restricting the discussion to the issues
of medicine, health, and bodies, we can account for a number of works
that provided a multilayered understanding of the relationship between
political power, medical knowledge and the actual human experience in
the context of colonialism.
The volumes on medicine and empire edited by Arnold (1988) and by
Macleod and Lewis (1988), and the monographs on African, Asian
and Pacific settings that followed them analysed the ways in which
medicine in the colonies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century functioned as a tool of empire (Headrick, 1981). These works
examined how the surveillance of epidemics and sanitary campaigns
epitomized the control of the colonial state power over the bodies
and lives of the colonized peoples (e.g., Lyons, 1992; Arnold, 1993;
Manderson, 1996). Further developments included the study of colo-
nial psychiatry (Vaughan, 1991; Ernst, 1991), eventually arguing that
the categorization of the colonized peoples by the colonial authorities
changed the terms in which Foucault formulated surveillance, punish-
ment and control of individuals (Vaughan, 1991). Also addressing
Foucault explicitly, the works of Anne Stoler on Dutch colonialism
in the East Indies expanded the discussion of biopower into colonial
settings (Stoler, 1995, 2004). Other works bridged the approach to
colonialism and health and current approaches to health and migra-
tion (e.g., Marks and Worboys, 1997; Beneduce, 1998). The field
keeps alive and expanding into new sorts of approaches, including the
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relationship between the perception of the settlers health and the well-
ness services back home, as Jennings shows for the French spa treat-
ments during colonization (Jennings, 2006).
Inspired by that literature, I will address the biopolitics of empire in
the peculiar setting of Angola in the late nineteenth century, examin-
ing how state politics and settlement policies use and affect medical
and biological knowledge. In the context of a mounting tension
between European nations’ entitlement regarding African territories,
the Portuguese government called for the colonization of southern
Angola by experienced European farmers.
The campaign was not
entirely successful albeit highly scrutinised by the state. Doctors and
colonial officers were the executioners of the surveillance. Their
records, memos, reports, and comments, their references to an over-
arching project of political control over life and bodies, and their use
of on-going medical theories regarding the acclimatisation of Europe-
ans to the tropics can be regarded as an archive of the colonial bio-
politics at that moment and place.
In that sense, those documents provide the basis for discussions on med-
ical theories, colonialism and displaced bodies in general. Also, they
bring out some elements that are not part of the standard tale of impe-
rial rule: a colonial power in constant tension with other colonial powers
to the point of discussing more about them than about the colonial
subjects; and, also, a colonial power that exposed its weaknesses and
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vulnerabilities more than its strengths, to the point of suggesting further
analyses about the actual workings of empire.
In 1884, and for the following seven to eight years, hundreds of Madei-
ran islanders were boated by the Portuguese government to the coast of
southern Angola and then tracked up the mountains until the Huı
´la pla-
teau, where they were supposed to survive by creating new agricultural
communities. They found endless difficulties all the way through the
sailing, at the coast, on their way up the mountains, and finally at their
destination. None of the settings was familiar or similar to what they
had known. They had to break the sharp cliffs of Serra da Chela, which
stands almost 2,000 meters above sea level. They had to endure a cli-
mate that was harsher and colder than that of their native island. They
had to endure the prejudice that Portuguese authorities held over them.
They had to interact, fight or mingle with the existing groups of Afri-
cans and Boer farmers who had settled there a few years before them.
In spite of the difficulties, the displaced Madeirans survived and their
descendents lived through the twentieth century (Nascimento, 1891,
1892, 1912; Dias, 1923, 1926, 1928, 1940; Felner, 1940; Machado, 1918;
Correia, 1925, 1930, 1934; Silva, 1971–73; Medeiros, 1976; Arrimar,
1997; Jasmins, 2000). People of Madeiran ancestry can still be found at
the plateau today. There are no reported social studies focusing on
Madeiran descents in contemporary Huı
´la, but they appear in other sorts
of literary sources (Agualusa, 2004; Carvalho, 1999; Mendes, 1999).
Long after their migration, Madeiran settlers of Huı
´la were to be remem-
bered as pioneers and heroes. But that only happened when their tale
became convenient to feed Portuguese claims of an old control over the
area. At arrival, and at their early years in the Angolan plateau,
Madeirans were not seen as heroes at all: they were highly despised by the
colonial delegates in charge of assessing the settlement’s success (e.g.,
Almeida, 1885; Botelho, 1895, 1896). If anything went wrong, Madeirans
were to be blamed. Drunk, lazy, unfit, ignorant, stupid and backwards
were among the adjectives used to describe the new settlers in the Huı
plateau at the end of the nineteenth century. As islanders escaping extreme
poverty, Madeirans carried the nineteenth century stigmas of the poor
and the wretched, deemed to social failure, malfunction and dissolution –
a good culprit to blame if the Huı
´la experience collapsed.
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But there was something else at play. The amount of commentary about
the inaptness of the settlers suggests that there was a high level of anxi-
ety and that the whole thing might be deemed to fail. Previous experi-
ences of white settlements in Southern Angola had already failed.
Instead of turning into stable and prosperous farming communities, they
had either succumbed or blended in.
The reports assessing the failures give the impression that Africa
devoured Europeans not only by its fatal fevers but also by swallowing
and transforming them, by Africanizing them, or, in the derogatory
terms of the moment, by ‘‘caffrealizing’’ them. According to other Euro-
pean observers at the time, the Portuguese were particularly prone to
that sort of degeneration. When venturing to the tropics, they would
‘‘caffrealize,’’ that is, mix, blend and adopt the ways of the natives, or
‘‘mongrelize’’, that is, degenerate physically, mentally and racially. Dec-
ades later such stigma turned into pride through Gilberto Freyre’s luso-
tropical theories (Freyre, 1953), which converted the weaknesses of
hybridizing and mixing into the strengths of hybridizing and mixing.
But back in the late nineteenth century those stigmas shaped and gave
content to the fears and anxieties of those involved in the assessment of
the colonizing experiences.
In sum, the overall portrait that comes out of the health records is one of
fragilities, vulnerabilities, anxieties and weaknesses. It hardly matches the
standard imperial narrative about bringing civilisation to the uncivilized
via the ways of military bravery and cultural enlightenment. It is also an
attempt to think and theorize about the condition of displaced bodies,
with a particular focus on the displaced European body in the tropics.
Those reports engaged in the on-going discussions about the flexibility
and adaptability of the human body. Theories of acclimatisation claimed
that the human body, like those of plants and animals, could adapt to
life in the tropics. There might even be such a thing as intermediary sta-
tions for the purpose of acclimatisation, like the highlands with their
milder climate. Indeed, other European colonial empires had developed
‘‘hill stations’’ for the purpose (Kennedy, 1996; Jennings, 2006).
Those debates lay behind the commentaries on the physical fitness and
the adaptation of Madeirans to the southern Angola lands. They were
also interwoven with the racialist ideologies that reached their peak in
the first half of the twentieth century. But, at the time, the concepts of
flexibility and adaptation, as discussed by Harrison (1999) for India,
were still pervasive in medical commentaries regarding displaced bodies.
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What was new about promoting white settlements, or engineered migra-
tion, in colonial Africa? For centuries, the relationship between Europe-
ans and Africans had revolved around the slave trade, which forced
millions of Africans into New World plantations. The Portuguese had
been prominent in the South Atlantic traffic lines which mostly fed Bra-
zil. But things had changed in the nineteenth century: Brazil became an
independent nation in 1822; the slave trade was increasingly prosecuted
by international partners; and abolitionist currents had grown in impor-
tance and influence (Sa
´da Bandeira, 1873). In 1878, slavery was finally
abolished within Portuguese territories, even though other forms of
forced labour continued into the twentieth century affecting the indı´ge-
nas, who did not share the rights of citizenship of either Europeans or
assimilado Africans.
In the meantime, other European nations pro-
moted initiatives that fulfilled their interests in administering Africa. The
overlapping of different European nations’ claims to African territory
and the impossibility of fulfilling their different colonizing projects led
to the mounting tensions that peaked in the years 1884–5. In those
years, the famous Berlin Conference defined ‘‘who’’ among European
nations was entitled to ‘‘what’’ in matters of African land. In the
ultimate Eurocentric approach to Africa, European delegates engaged in
drawing border lines across the map while pushing for their own
interests. Some of those lines persist today as borders between African
nations marked by the histories of competing European colonialisms.
The Portuguese administration had to adjust to the new trends or be left
out of Africa. Other European nations no longer accepted old-style
claims over land based on military conquest and symbolic presence via
flags or stakes. Needless to say, at that point the views and opinions of
Africans regarding their own land and lives were not even considered by
those in charge. For Europeans involved in the ‘‘scramble’’ for Africa,
its inhabitants were a mere nuisance, a part of the landscape, and, at
best, a labour resource.
The new style of colonialism demanded a better knowledge of land and
required its permanent occupation by the rulers. Other nations were act-
ing to fulfill those requirements. Portugal tried to match the first of
them by promoting the exploratory coast-to-coast trips of Serpa Pinto,
Hermenegildo Capelo and Roberto Ivens.
As for the requirement of
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permanent settlement, the Huı
´la Plateau became the target. It was one
of the few organized Portuguese attempts to settle in the tropics in the
nineteenth century, to be celebrated later as a successful one.
However, things were not so well planned from the beginning. Much of
what happened was due to chance rather than strategy – including the
‘‘choice’’ of Madeiran islanders, who were ready to go anywhere just to
leave their home and escape the unbearable poverty and land-scarcity
that loomed over them more than their mainland counterparts. In other
words, what was meant to be an exemplary act of colonization in the
perspective of political leaders was yet another choice of labour migra-
tion for those who were actually displaced. Escaping poverty, their
bodies and skills were not ideal for the development of a pioneer settler
community. Colonial officers repeatedly mentioned that point. And yet
the colony survived and strived.
There had been previous attempts to move Europeans into the south of
Angola. After Brazil’s independence from Portugal, in 1822, there were
initiatives about resettling some discontent Portuguese from Brazil to
Africa (Alexandre, 1999; Jasmins, 2000). Even though most Europeans
regarded African lands as deadly, unhealthy and worthless places, every
now and then politicians came up with the idea of building there a sort
of ‘‘new Brazil’’ (Alexandre, 2000).
In 1839, a ship was sent from Luanda, Angola, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
in order to bring Portuguese residents into Angola (Silva, 1971: 343).
However, many among those who embarked were precisely the ones
who had failed in the Americas, and were hardly the ideal settlers for a
new project. Africa needed farmers, and those who came on board were
described as merchants, bakers, ‘‘artists’’ of different sorts, and hood-
lums (vadios). Only farmers, some authors argued, could create stable
communities. Farmers were the ideal subjects for the exercise of colonial
biopolitics: under the sponsorship of the state, farmers could reproduce
life, expand the universe of the cultivated against the wild, of culture
against nature, of the body of the nation against its enemies and rivals.
In 1849, another attempt to resettle Portuguese people from independent
Brazil to Southern Angola was led by Bernardino Abreu e Castro. Two
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vessels left Recife with a contingent of people escaping the anti-Portu-
guese conflicts known as Revoluc¸a
˜o Praieira (Pelissier, 1998; Vicente,
1969). Bernardino Abreu had already crossed the ocean towards Brazil,
running from the Portuguese civil wars between ‘‘Miguelistas’’ and ‘‘Lib-
erals.’’ Himself a defeated ‘‘Miguelista,’’ Bernardino Abreu tried to find
a better environment for his ambitions in Brazil, but he did not succeed
there either. In Africa, according to one biographer, Bernardino Abreu
envisaged implementing a plantation system akin to that of Pernambuco
(Vicente, 1969). There, again, he failed. Neither the land nor the people
replicated the conditions of the Brazilian northeast. Slavery was in its
last days, and free labour did not abound in southern Angola.
Further Portuguese attempts to create white colonies in the area failed
for a few decades more. Sometimes, commentators blamed it on the
site, but more often they blamed it on the people used for the settle-
ments (e.g. Almeida, discussed by Silva, 1972b).
The laudatory and
pro-colonial books of Gasta
˜o de Sousa Dias (1923, 1926, 1928) were
among those who blamed the failures on the improper preparation of
the site. The more detailed analysis of Raul Silva argued that the prob-
lem was the inadequacy of the early settlers (Silva, 1973: 340). In his
views, they were people looking for easy lives, unsympathetic to the
endurance of agricultural labour and the development of sustained
communities; they were unable to engage in collective goals; they rap-
idly left agriculture for the easier ways of commerce; and when they
persisted in agriculture, they chose the wrong crops and the wrong tim-
ing. In sum, nothing was good and there was no real support from the
state besides the initial help in kind and travel. Even those who were
fully sponsored by the government, like the soldiers, had to endure
immense difficulties.
Low-rank soldiers and convicts, unsuited for the purpose of community
building, had been the majority of the Portuguese sent to Angola. But
there were others too. At some point, the Portuguese government had
sponsored the settlement of migrants from other countries, attracting a
group of Germans into southern Angola in the 1860s. However, in spite
of their claims about having masonry and carpentry skills, they were not
even able to build proper homes, something that was part of the migra-
tion contract (Silva, 1973: 313). There were also some reckless youth
from institutions, like the group of youngsters from Casa Pia, an institu-
tion for orphans and paupers, who followed the German contingent in
the 1860s; they, too, were seen as rebellious and did not help in a proper
settlement. And there were the fishermen from Algarve, the distinct
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southernmost province of Portugal often subject to prejudice by other
Portuguese fellows. A few contingents of Algarvians from Faro and
˜o had sailed in their own boats to the Moc¸ aˆ medes coast and settled
there for fishing activities, which until then had only been carried out by
Africans. They did not plan to make it into the plateau.
Adding to this variety, there were some clergy sent to the area – but
even those, chroniclers say, had gone there as a punishment for immoral
behaviour elsewhere (Silva, 1973: 339).
With so much repeated failure, it makes sense to ask: why did the settle-
ment of Madeiran islanders succeed where the others had not? Histori-
ans of the Moc¸ aˆ medes Huı
´la experience present it as a successful case
of engineered colonialism with a premeditated change in tactics, like a
controlled experiment of settlement devoted to success, fully proving
that the white colonization of Africa was indeed possible. Raul Silva
explicitly credits Pinheiro Chagas for the migration of Madeirans (Silva,
1972: 528; 1973: 342). The arguments used by the chroniclers refer to
the correct choices of human stock and place, with the appropriate cli-
mate, suitable for the acclimatization of European species, whether vege-
table, animal or human. Those two conditions, people and place, had
been spelled out already in the eighteenth century by the Portuguese
governor of Angola, Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho, in words that most
chroniclers regarded as the very beginning of the attempts to promote
the white settlement of that site: ‘‘colonisar as terras altas angolanas, por
meio de casais brancos de bo
ˆa gente e sabedores dos principais oficios
manuais’’ (to colonize the highlands of Angola with white couples of
good people, familiarised with manual crafts). This phrase became, in a
sense, the motto of the social engineering behind the late nineteenth
century migrations.
It was clear that the Plateau of Huı
´la had a climate suited for Euro-
pean-style agriculture and for European bodies, and was therefore
appropriate for acclimatization and for the development of farming
communities. But why would Madeirans provide the ideal settlers?
Although the Moc¸ aˆ medes Huı
´la saga is portrayed in secondary sources
as a successfully organized settlement that was part of a larger colonial
program, the study of primary sources shows otherwise. Rather than a
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part of a structured program, it appears as a rushed response to an
imagined threat, within the military inspired logic of conquest, defence,
and invasion. The adversaries were not the resident Africans, even
though there were violent episodes of native resistance in the 1850s–60s
(Pelissier, 1998; Silva, 1972). For the Portuguese, the threat came from
other European settlers, like the Boers marching into the territory. The
Boer nomadic drift (‘‘Northern Trek’’) had led them to settle tempo-
rarily in places claimed by the Portuguese, one of them being Humpata.
One century later they were remembered as a terrifying group: ‘‘com-
manded by a certain ‘captain Botha’, they killed and devastated the
peoples of the region’’ (Silva, 1972: 525). In the context of a mounting
tension between Europeans about African land, the Boers and the
British – ‘‘a constant fear all through the occupation of Angola’’, as
portrayed by Silva (1971: 371) – were the strong motive for a change in
the Portuguese colonial policies over the area.
Until the 1880s, the colonization of Africa was not a main political
agenda for the Portuguese. Many among the intelligentsia and politi-
cians thought that the African colonies were a nuisance rather than an
asset. Some advocated their sale to other European potencies. Things
changed with the 1890 British ultimatum against Portugal, in the after-
math of the Berlin Conference. That memo invited the Portuguese to
give up their claims about the lands between Angola and Mozambique,
either by will or by force. Taken as a national humiliation, the ultima-
tum stood at the root of a change in attitude, and from then on politi-
cians were able to manipulate the nation into pro-colonial policies. But
before the ultimatum Africa was neither a political priority nor a popu-
lar destination for migrants in search of work and better lives. They
would rather go to the New World. Madeirans, for instance, would go
as far as the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and endure the harshness of
indentured labour, just a step above slavery.
The Portuguese politicians who advocated pro-colonial positions had
to develop strong arguments in order to persuade the parliament and
government of their purposes. One of the most used arguments
resounded of biopolitics: redirecting towards the colonies the flows of
migrants that departed from Portugal. Lives should be kept under
national territory, not feeding the workforce of the rival nations and
enriching them. The idea slowly gained support in the parliament and
appeared in the legislation in 1881, the decade when the scramble for
Africa was peaking.
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the emigration of the kingdom’s continent and adjacent islands goes to
inhospitable lands, where Portuguese citizens, generally subject to lion
contracts, go, pushed by misery, seek in the hard labour of settlers and
servants, so many diseases, fatigue, and often death itself.
More than once in the parliament and in the press there has been the
expression of the need to call into our vast overseas domains the currents
of emigration that impoverish the country, by stealing them of their more
robust hands.
More than once opinion has demanded from the public powers to respond
to the situation of these disgraced beings, whom, by not finding in their
motherland neither property nor work go, often, subject themselves to a
true slavery, disguised under the colours of freely arranged conventions.
´rio de Governo, 1881, #185, August 20)
The government tried to make African destinations more attractive by
advertising the good qualities of some African places and announcing
consistent material support to the settlers. Announcements were posted
in the different Portuguese districts. In Braga, for instance, the governor
Jeronymo da Cunha Pimentel announced on 14 February, 1884, that the
vessel India would bring up to 50 settlers to the district of Moc¸ aˆ medes,
in Angola. Up to eight from Braga could be included. Candidates were
directed to sign the contract in town and present themselves to the Min-
istry of Navy and Overseas for departure by the following 22
– which
gave them only a week! (Governo Civil de Braga, 1884).
The advertisements called for ‘‘valid men,’’ under the age of 35, prefera-
bly married, who were farmers or farming-related artisans, such as car-
penters, masons, ironsmiths. In sum, the government tried to attract
healthy bodies, both on physical and social grounds. In turn, the
migrants were offered the sum of 30,000 R., free transport, and a num-
ber of tools, including a gun, an axe, a shovel, a hoe, and basic house-
hold ware. The government also assured them protection and guidance
into a desirable destination:
at arrival in Angola, the settlers will be under the protection of the emi-
grants office, which will give them the appropriate destiny in the district
of Moc¸a
ˆmedes, which is, as everyone knows, very healthy, rich and with
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all the conditions of the best European countries, where they will have
protection of the authorities and the convenience of those who speak the
same language and share the same motherland.’’
Few responded to the appeals. In the list of migrants aboard the India
when it left Portugal on 1 March 1884, only three settlers-to-be had
signed the term in Braga (Luiz da Silva, from Vila Flor, Braganc¸ a;
Domingos Machado, from Famalica
˜o, and Antonio Soares, from Braga).
One man had signed it in Viseu and seven had done so at the ministry.
In addition, there were nine who had signed in Funchal, Madeira (but
one, in fact, came in a later contingent). This is documented by a few
telegrams between Funchal and Lisbon, that show the willingness of
Madeirans to leave the island. Of that total of 20, some were lost – either
they died or went after non-agricultural destinies once off the boat.
This early 1884 episode remains unacknowledged by the historians who
wrote about the saga. They typically refer only to the trip of the vessel
India in October-November of that year. Without ever explaining why
the contingent of settlers was composed solely of Madeirans, Raul Silva,
who otherwise provides a detailed account of the white colonization of
Southern Angola, simply refers to the fact that,
When Manuel Pinheiro Chagas took the foreign Overseas and Navy
office the rhythm of the Angolan colonization accelerated This minis-
ter sent to the south Angolan lands the first Madeiran colony, composed
of 222 individuals of both sexes. Embarked on the vessel India, they set
foot in Moc¸a
ˆmedes in November 18, 1884, and established for good in
Lubango in January 19, 1885, under the direction of Sir Jose
´Augusto da
ˆmara Leme (Silva, 1972: 528).
But now we know why. In a rushed attempt to settle southern Angola
with Portuguese countrymen, Madeirans were the only ones ready to
embark without hesitation into the uncertain destiny. The November
trip skipped mainland Portugal. There were over two hundred Madeir-
ans eager to leave home and go anywhere.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, Madeirans were probably
the most disenfranchised among those who searched for labour and
land outside Portugal. Since the 1830s they endured the challenges of
travelling to different and distant environments as Guyana and Hawaii
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(Ferreira, 2001; Spranger, 2001). To Hawaii they had to sail all through
the Atlantic, go around the Cape Horne, sail back north across the
Pacific, and then endure the harshness of labour in the sugar cane planta-
tions. In Guyana there was also labour in the cane fields waiting for
them. British plantation owners in the recently emancipated colony
(1831) rapidly replaced slave labour by indentured labour. In the years
1834–35, plantation owners imported a few hundred Portuguese from the
Azores and Madeira, a source that was staunched by the Portuguese gov-
ernment to be revived in 1841 and combined with the importation of
labour from the India and the West Indies (Wagner, 1977: 408–9). Inden-
tured labour was complemented by an almost constant flow of economic-
driven migration, to which Madeira contribute steadily. Once in Guyana,
Madeirans also got engaged in small commerce (Laurence, 1965; Wagner,
1977). Hardly seen as ‘‘Europeans’’ (Wagner, 1977: 411), they also
became a target for angry riots against shopkeepers (Wagner, 1977: 415).
Madeirans also embarked early to the United States and to Trinidad,
both for religious reasons
and as labourers (Ferreira, 2001; Fernandes,
2004). In the twentieth century, their destinies included South Africa
and South America. Southern Angola was one other destiny among a
succession of different places, but one that came with a distinct feature:
it was sponsored by the Portuguese government, as part of a strategy
for land occupation in the context of the European scramble for Africa.
Madeirans were ready to leave their land, and for that reason the second
trip of the vessel India in our saga started already in Funchal, Madeira.
In October November 1884, about 250 people left the island for Moc¸ aˆ -
medes (Almeida, 1885). Officially, the contingent was composed of 20
operarios (labourers), plus 15 family members and 70 settlers, as well as
116 of their family members, 66 of whom were children (Silva, 1884;
Almeida, 1884-5). These were not alone, however. The day after they left
Funchal, another 20 Madeirans were found on board. They had
embarked illegally, and in the next stop, in Cape Verde, the captain
waited for telegraphic instructions from the government in Lisbon. They
all ultimately continued on to Moc¸ aˆ medes anyway, making the 200 plus
contingent that most chroniclers report.
The ship arrived at Moc¸ aˆ medes in November 1884 and the future set-
tlers were housed in four barracks – two for the families, one for the
older girls, and another one for unmarried men and boys – built for the
occasion. Following plans to cross the mountains that stood in their
way, they reached the Huı
´la plateau in January 1885. Some among them
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stayed in Lubango, some went to Humpata, and some founded the small
colony of Sa
˜o Pedro da Chibia. Three years later they were the cover
story of the Lisbon newspaper Colonias Portuguesas, one of the few pro-
colonial periodicals in Portugal at the time.
The newspaper commented that this was the only successful case among
the Portuguese attempts to colonize Africa in current times. The article
suggested that this case should provide an example for further efforts:
It is there that several colonies have kept and prospered, it is there that
the reproduction of the white race and the joyful and healthy living of the
European migrants speak louder than any study about African regions
and climates, encouraging us to send there all those who in the mother-
land do not find easy ways to provide their own subsistence.
Despite the joyful tone of the reports of Colonias Portuguesas, and the
many glorified reports produced by twentieth century historians, geogra-
phers and physical anthropologists, the life of Madeirans in their early
Source: Lisbon Geographical Society & F. Ladeira
40 Bastos
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(Source: Lisbon Geographical Society & F. Ladeira)
Displaced bodies 41
2008 The Author
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years in Huı
´la was not at all easy. Their trip had not been easy to begin
with, and that is well documented by the writings of the physician on
board, Dr. Alexandre Almeida.
While the writings of the captain refer
solely to the condition of the ocean, winds, distance, speed, motor
repairs and harbours, the physician’s writings were pungent depictions
of the passengers’ experience.
The first comment of the naval physician Alexandre Almeida regarding
the Madeirans aboard the India reveals his doubts about the appropri-
ateness of their bodies for settling and cultivating the land. He wondered
whether they had been subject to any sort of physical selection (Alme-
ida, 1884–5), which they had not. Decades later, a governor of the dis-
trict, Joa
˜o Almeida, goes to the point of suggesting that it seemed as
though Madeira had just gotten rid of its worst types by sending them
off to Angola (Almeida, 1912).
To the physician on board the India, the bodies of the future settlers
seemed just wrong for the purpose: wrong age, either too old or too
young, and wrong body skills.
They had not been selected correctly
for biopolitical purposes. Their bodies did not seem up to the task of
expanding the nation and building empire by settling themselves and
administering the land and living world. Among those onboard, some
were extreme cases, like the ones who embarked illegally and showed up
a few days later asking for food. They were a total of 24, in total indi-
gence, deprived even of clothing. ‘‘Escaping the misery of their home-
land,’’ maybe motivated ‘‘by the love of the unknown’’ and the ‘‘desire
of seeing lands,’’ in Dr. Almeida’s words, their health was in ruins, and
their life expectancy too short. Some among them would willingly aban-
don the trip in the Capeverdian island of Sa
˜o Vicente.
The physician elaborated extensively on the adaptations needed on the
vessel in order to provide a better and healthier trip to the passengers.
As it was, they were forced to breathe improper air, due to poor ventila-
tion, and endure unnecessary dampness, due to the sailor’s habits of
throwing buckets of water as a method of cleaning. In spite of all this,
the health condition of the passengers was considered regular and stable.
One only death happened during their brief stop in Luanda to fix the
engine and clean the vessel thoroughly. It was an 8-month old infant
who had come on board already in ill health, showing the symptoms of
42 Bastos
2008 The Author
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profound anemia, refusing alternatives to the mother’s weakened milk,
and slowly falling into an uninterrupted sleep that lead to death. But
there was a counterpart to that: on the day they left Luanda a Madeiran
woman gave birth to a baby girl who they named ‘‘Maria India.’’
The vessel India continued sailing to South Africa and Mozambique and
back after leaving the Madeirans in Moc¸ aˆ medes. There, the Madeirans
started a new chapter of their lives. The hardships of life were not left
behind in the island: they were to see many more difficulties ahead,
including being thrown upon a plateau whose farming would be differ-
ent from what they were used to in their subtropical island. One of the
ironies was that the African climate in the highlands was much colder
than what they knew and expected. Everything in them seemed inappro-
priate and medical reports were easy in dismissing them by criticizing
their food choices: how could they prefer a vegetable-based diet of yams
and sweet potatoes when the land allowed for cattle raising and meat
consumption, as did the Boers and some native groups?
One of the sharpest examples of the biomedical assessment of the Madei-
rans performance upon their early arrival comes in the medical reports of
the Moc¸ aˆ medes sanitary district signed by Joaquim Bernardo Cardoso
Botelho in 1895 and 1896. Botelho was particularly insulting to the Madei-
rans: in 1896, in a long digression on acclimatization, he described them as
‘‘indolent,’’ ‘‘pariahs’’ and ‘‘unsuited for colonization.’’ Being ‘‘lazy,
drunk, immoral and dirty,’’ Madeirans – with some exceptions – did not
have ‘‘one quality that brings them above the blacks from whom they only
differentiate by colour’’ (Botelho, 1896).
Among his comments were assumptions and beliefs about race and
human flexibility that reflected both scientific theories and a few of the
floating prejudices and commonsense ideas that Europeans had about
themselves and about Africans regarding issues of body, health, race
and environment. Botelho was immersed in the discussions about accli-
matisation. He distinguished between aclimatac¸a
˜oand aclimatamento,
referring, respectively, to the individual processes of adaptation and the
promotion of policies towards that goal, or to the ‘‘adaptation of race.’’
Simplifying the discussion by choosing acclimatation, he considered that
its study should be a political priority which required cooperation
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2008 The Author
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between the government and medical entities. To guarantee a successful
colonization, the health and bodies of migrants should be monitored
ever since they registered to leave. In other words: biopower as phrased
by a nineteenth century colonial physician in southern Angola.
Botelho elaborated on the procedures towards adequate and appropriate
monitoring of the settlers’ health and the simultaneous development of
acclimatisation studies. It should all begin at the moment of recruit-
ment: the future settlers should first get a detailed medical account of
their physical condition written by the physician of their home town.
Then the report should be brought to a medical inspection in Lisbon,
reviewed and annotated. The document should then be sent to the
health services of the colony of destination, and provided to the local
colonial physician. This person should then monitor the health of the
settler and report all possible details to the colony health services, who
in turn should report them back to Lisbon. Only in this manner could
the studies of acclimatisation be accomplished.
That was a fantasy of colonial biopower which was never implemented;
yet it reveals the beliefs on acclimatisation as a branch of biomedical
knowledge. In Botelho’s writings, those beliefs co-existed with several
others – what were then the scientific views on race, the pervasive back-
ground notions about human flexibility, and the European fears about
tropical climates and African settings. Even though inter-tropical, the
Moc¸ aˆ medes district had places with European-like climate. Botelho
argued that clinical observations indicated the influence of the Moc¸ aˆ me-
des climate over the white race, ‘‘and therefore the adaptability of that
race to that climate.’’ Reviewing the different flows of migrants that
arrived to the area and their bodily responses, Botelho concluded
that ‘‘the acclimatisation of the white individuals in Moc¸ aˆ medes is
incomplete, less imperfect than in other sites in the province, except in
the plateau of Moc¸ aˆ medes’’ (Botelho, 1896).
In his words, the ‘‘white race’’ of the district suffered from a generalized
asthenia, caused by a slow impoverishing of the organism. One of the
symptoms of the impoverishing of the race (depauperamento da rac¸a)
was the fact that women were prone to hysteria when getting close to
puberty. Using the jargon common to medicine and physical anthropol-
ogy of his day, he noted that the transplanted human bodies had gone
down from the strong constitution of their original types, lymphatic-san-
guineous, to the debilities of a nervous-lymphatic type. Botelho was so
prejudiced about the Madeirans that in his study of acclimatisation he
44 Bastos
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included in the original types those from Beira Alta, Tra
Minho, Douro and Azores – that is, those who had originated in the
Northern parts of the country and had landed in Moc¸ aˆ medes probably
via Brazil – and explicitly excluded the Madeirans, whom he saw as use-
less pariahs.
The spectre of degeneration was alive and well in Botelho’s thoughts
and writings, to the point of recommending that the descendents of the
settlers should intermarry with uncorrupted whites coming from Europe.
This was a topic that lingered well into the twentieth century, with or
without the support of physical anthropologists and their measuring
compasses. Similar issues were addressed in the context of French and
British colonialism (Jennings, 2006; Kennedy, 1987, 1996).
Decades after Botelho’s reports, the descendents of the Madeira settlers
were measured by the metal compasses of physician and physical
anthropologist Germano Correia, who served in Angola in 1922–23
(Correia, 1925, 1930, 1934). The children and grandchildren of those
who had been expected to degenerate were now applauded as the epit-
ome of the extreme adaptability of the Portuguese to the tropics. The
‘‘Luso-Angolans’’ had not succumbed to tropical illnesses; they had not
mixed with the local population; they had not decayed in any sense;
according to the ‘‘scientific measurement’’ of their bodies, their condi-
tion had improved in an inter-tropical zone.
For Correia, they were the ultimate proof that white colonization of
Africa was possible and viable, and, contrary to widespread beliefs,
might ‘‘improve the race.’’ He used this case to elaborate endlessly on
the virtues of a scientific colonization. In his views, colonization could
not be carried in the amateurish and ignorant ways done by many Euro-
pean nations. By sending their nationals to settle in inhospitable lands,
like the French in Guyana, they had seen nothing but massive death
and degeneration. To overcome those problems, colonisation should be
developed ‘‘scientifically.’’
The case of the Huı
´la Luso-Angolans was also used to support Correia’s
views on race and white supremacy. He spoke and wrote to audiences
who might question the viability of creating European settlements in
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2008 The Author
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Africa. Europeans should and could do it, and he was showing them
how. Needless to say, both speaker and audience disregarded at all lev-
els that the place was actually inhabited by Africans. It was all about
moving Europeans there.
Correia’s data on Luso-Angolans were insufficient to make scientific
claims about their ‘‘acclimatization’’; he had only measured 23 subjects.
Trained in the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie in Paris after graduating in
medicine from the Medical Schools of Goa in 1909 and Porto in 1912,
with further training on the Tropical Medicine Institute in Lisbon, he
was aware of the standards of validity for scientific work. However, he
could not help his enthusiasm about the case of Luso-Angolans, whom
he saw as potentially strengthening the argument he had developed for
the Luso-Descendents of Goa, India (Correia, 1919, 1920, 1928, 1931,
1945–46). His enthusiasm is better understood once we know that he
was a part of that group, seen as a minority who claimed supremacy
within the context of Indo-Portuguese society (Bastos, 2003, 2005). He
suggested that the Portuguese in the tropics improved their race by not
interbreeding with the natives; he was still fighting against the prejudice
that hung over him and over the Portuguese in general, regarded by
other Europeans as hybrids who had mixed too much with the natives
of tropical lands.
Correia’s views were like an upside down ‘‘luso-tropicalism,’’ the very
opposite of Gilberto Freyre’s apology of miscegenation developed a few
decades later (see Bastos, 2003). Freyre claimed that the very essence
and originality of Brazilian society lay in the hybridization promoted by
the Portuguese colonizers, who had gone around the world mixing with
other peoples and creating a new universe of mulattoes and creoles. Like
Freyre’s luso-tropicalism, even though looking the inverse, Correia’s
attempts to theorize about the Portuguese adaptation to the tropics were
a sort of blending of ethnic pride and imperialism in response to the
accusations of degeneration by hybridism and miscegenation that hung
over anyone of Portuguese descent in Africa and Asia.
Correia’s future in the history of ideas was a dead-end. His views on
human fitness and race were critically close to those upon which eugeni-
cist ideals developed, leading to some of the horrors of the twentieth
century. His works – particularly those about the Luso-Angolans –
should be kept as a reminder of the dangerous liaisons between science,
ideology and power as enacted by the relationship between physical
anthropology, racialism, acclimatisation and colonial biopower.
46 Bastos
2008 The Author
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Such dangerous liaisons are not a mere curiosity from the past. Like the
theories of miasma that survived long after the general acceptance of
germ theory, whether explicitly or underground, so the ideas associating
physical fitness, adaptation and ‘‘race’’ that were developed by Europe-
ans who studied displaced populations in the tropics are still around us,
haunting representations about migrants and illness in the contemporary
world. ‘‘The perennial problem of medicalised prejudice,’’ as Alan Kraut
(1997) puts it, affected southern Italians migrating to the United States
as well, and many others to come all through the twentieth century and
into the 21
(Markel and Stern, 2002). Medical language is easily
embeddable with prejudice regarding migrants. Cultural fears and persis-
tent xenophobia pave the way to discourses that in the past insisted on
physical fitness, degeneration or appropriateness, and in the present are
associated with carrying diseases, modern epidemics and, again, threats
of dissolution.
In a world where human mobility has accelerated drastically, when
northerners travel south and southerners go north, east goes west and
west goes east, it remains under the control of the established powers –
as if in a new form of empire – to define danger and assign it to people
and groups, to spell out who is dangerous and who is in danger, provid-
ing elements to the broth in which the ‘‘scientific’’ basis for the new bio-
politics of migration and mobility will take shape.
Research for this article was funded by the Foundation of Science and
Technology, with the projects ‘‘Empires, Centers and Provinces: the
circulation of medical knowledge in the 19
century’’ (PTDC HTC
72143 2006), and ‘‘Medicina colonial, estruturas do impe
´rio e vidas
´s-coloniais em portugueˆ s’’ (POCTI ANT 41075 2001), developed at
the Institute for Social Sciences, University of Lisbon. A first version of
the paper was presented at the Conference Diaspora and Disease, SOAS,
March 31–April 1 2005. I thank the organizers Paru Raman and Ian
Harper for their support and comments, plus the anonymous reviewers
of International Migration for their helpful remarks. I am also very
thankful to the commentaries of Rosa Williams, Jean Comaroff, John
Comaroff, Kesha Fikes and other participants of the African Studies
Displaced bodies 47
2008 The Author
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and Comparative Colonialism Workshop of the University of Chicago,
where I presented a preliminary analysis of these issues in October 2004.
The paper was finalized during a period as a visiting faculty at the Por-
tuguese and Brazilian Studies department and the Watson Institute,
Brown University (2006–7), with the support of the Luso-American
Foundation for Development. Further thanks to Gabriel Mendes from
the Writing Center for editing assistance. A special acknowledgement
goes to the librarians of the Geographical Society of Lisbon (S.G.L.)
and the overseas Historical Archive (A.H.O.) for their support over the
1. Islands of White (Kennedy, 1987) provides a preciously documented com-
parison of the Anglophone white settlements of Rhodesia and Kenya that
started not too long afterwards. The obscure Huı
´la experience, in all its fra-
gility and helplessness, was, at least chronologically, a pioneering one.
2. Assimilados (literally ‘‘assimilated’’) were the native individuals who had
adopted a certain degree of the colonizer’s culture (language, religion,
rituals, dress codes, table manners, etc.), implicitly rejecting their ancestors’
culture. The condition of assimilado could be achieved by an exam and cer-
tificate. Only the assimilados counted as citizens and were granted the rights
denied to the ‘‘natives’’.
3. The Foundation of Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa (Geographic Society
of Lisbon) in 1875 explicitly addressed the need to know better the African
inland. In direct competition with its colonial rivals, the Portuguese govern-
ment sponsored in 1877 the explorations of Serpa Pinto, Hermenegildo
Capelo and Roberto Ivens from the coast of Angola to that of Mozambi-
que. They used navigation techniques in what was then unchartered terri-
tory for Europeans. In 1884–85, Capelo and Ivens completed the crossing
of the hinterland between Huı
´la, in southern Angola, and Quelimane, in
Mozambique (Capelo and Ivens, 1886).
4. It remains to be investigated whether Abreu was himself the abolitionist
that some of his chroniclers refer to, or merely another slaveholder that
exploited the system to its limits.
5. Some authors extended the deprecation into Madeirans, depicted as ‘‘a
scum of drunks and hoodlums’’ (Nascimento, 1909, apud Silva, 1972b: 435).
6. Edital, Braga, 1884, Arquivo Historico Ultramarino, sala 12, Angola, diver-
sos, mac¸ o 1079 (emphasis added).
7. Already in the eighteen century a group of Madeirans had converted from
Catholicism to a protestant church and followed their leader, ending up in
Illinois via Trinidad (See Fernandes, 2004).
8. As Colonias Portuguezas, 30 Abril 1888, p. 29.
48 Bastos
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9. I thank POCTI ANT 41075 2001project research assistant Monica Saave-
dra for the transcriptions of those diaries.
10. In his words, there were some ‘‘valetudinarians’’, some ‘‘into age’’, many
without the necessary fitness for the agricultural work; many were just too
young, and some had skills or arts that were useless for the taking off of a
new colony.
11. In a recent visit to the area I was able to identify the tomb of Maria I
at the ‘‘Boer cemetery’’ of Humpata, in which most of the tombs are actu-
ally from Portuguese settlers. Maria I
´ndia’s tomb had a peculiar cement
cover and contours; the scribe referred to her birth in Moc¸ aˆ medes, 1883;
she actually arrived to Moc¸ aˆ medes already as a newborn, and it was in
November 1884. I am very thankful to Rosa Melo and to her relatives San-
dra and Dionisio, from Lubango, for the opportunity of wandering around
Humpata in November 2005.
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... As classificações raciais resultam de processos sociopolíticos que procuram biologizar hierarquias sociais, pelo que as condições laboral e de cidadania condicionam os processos de racialização. Como analisou Bastos (2008), as autoridades coloniais administrativas e médicas chegaram a considerar os madeirenses da Huíla como inferiores e inaptos para a colonização, ao passo que, anos mais tarde, os propagandistas do colonialismo lhes vieram a chamar pioneiros. Ao evidenciarmos as trajetórias de vida da família Moinheiro, pretendemos problematizar esta interseção entre raça, género e classe na sociedade colonial e romper com a homogeneização do universo da população colona branca. ...
... Em 1940 que António tenha feito parte desse contingente de madeirenses que a política de colonização oficial dirigiu para as cobiçadas terras altas do Sul de Angola, numa altura em que as diferentes potências coloniais disputavam a hegemonia sobre o continente africano. A estes colonos madeirenses da Huíla, como foi o caso dos Moinheiro, foi dado pela população africana o nome de "chicoronhos" para os distinguir dos outros portugueses, um nome que ganhou o significado de "colono rude do Sul", uma distinção que sugere uma racialização diferenciada entre os portugueses das colónias (Bastos 2008). ...
... Partimos, então, à procura de uma lista de embarcados, no Arquivo Histórico da Marinha e no Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino. Chegámos a pensar que António poderia ter sido um dos embarcados no navio Índia, ainda pequeno, junto com os mais de duzentos madeirenses que, em 1884, rumaram ao porto de Moçâmedes e dali subiram o planalto com carros de boers para fundarem, em 19 de janeiro de 1885, a colónia do Lubango, depois Sá da Bandeira ( Bastos 2008). Várias hipóteses se abriam: será que do Lubango foi deslocado para a colónia da Chibia, a pouco mais de 40 quilómetros de distância? ...
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This article is the microhistory of a family from Madeira who moved to Angola, from the time they settled in the highlands of the Huila in the late nineteenth century to the decolonization process in 1975. With the use of testimonies, archival research and bibliographic research, this is a history-memory of the lived experience of a particular family. Its purpose is to achieve an understanding of the wider social, political and historical structures that marked the history of Portuguese colonization and decolonization. Focusing on a Portuguese family of nineteenth-century settlers’ descendants, people of the small business and working class, we give these outliers their place in the history of white settlers and problematize class, gender, and race relations in colonial society.
... European colonialism led to the racialisation of human mobility. Some seventeen million people emigrated from Europe to the colonies between 1814 and 1914, mainly to the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Africa (Bastos 2008;Mayblin 2021). They were fleeing poverty and famine and were encouraged to move as a strategy to establish new state territories with people of European ancestry. ...
... They were fleeing poverty and famine and were encouraged to move as a strategy to establish new state territories with people of European ancestry. European migration was always accompanied by the elimination, dispossession and displacement of the indigenous people and the settlement of their lands (Bastos 2008;Mayblin and Turner 2021). ...
For Africa as a whole we want our peoples to have the right to move, settle, work and live with- out visas or passports from Cape Town to Cairo. As steady progress is being made at regional level it makes this Pan African dimension inevitable ... It just means that they are free to do so if they wish without any security or police always harassing them as ‘foreigners’. (Raheem 2006)
... A construção do império como um fenômeno cultural e intelectual inseriu-se na agenda dos estudos pós-coloniais e passou a compor um diálogo profícuo entre a antropologia e a história (Cohn, 1996;Bastos, 2003Bastos, , 2004bBastos, , 2007Maino, 2005). Nascia, assim, uma nova área conhecida como "antropologia do colonialismo" que ampliou a observação e o estudo sobre as formas de vida humana no cotidiano -de sua existência social e cultural -para reconhecer a coetaneidade dos grupos sociais e as relações de poder inseridas nessas interações (Pacheco de Oliveira, 1999;Fabian, 2003;Bastos, 2007Bastos, , 2008Bastos, , 2009Wolf, 2009). Perguntava-se sobre as condições sociais para a produção da ciência e em que escolas de pensamento haviam se cristalizado determinadas práticas (Stocking, 1991) e com que efeitos para os povos com os quais se relacionavam. ...
... Em Portugal, os esforços de pesquisa e interpretações sobre os fatos coloniais convergiram com a criação da Junta das Missões Geográficas e Investigações Coloniais (JMGIC), em 1936, para organizar e promover atividades desta natureza. 8 As ideias raciais e próximas do eugenismo defendidas em termos científicos também ganharam força nesse contexto, conferindo mais realidade a um cientificismo do colonialismo e à noção de superioridade racial dos brancos (Bastos, 2003(Bastos, , 2008Matos, 2006). As ideias de Germano Correia, professor e antropólogo físico, contribuíram para reforçar uma ideologia racial transmitida para o ensino português e que marcaria toda uma geração de jovens, do ensino básico às universidades . ...
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Este estudo sobre a Escola Colonial e a formação de especialistas nos problemas coloniais no contexto português permite conhecer o passado e as bases sobre as quais se assentaram saberes para a manutenção da desigualdade. Essa aproximação contribui para se entender a ruptura entre o ´pré´e o ´pós´colonial de forma mais controlada, identificando as relações entre ciência, ensino e administração. O Estado colonial é apresentado como uma ´zona de contato, um campo de possibilidades de representação de populações e de um Estado responsável por nomeá-las; um campo que teve sua própria história e que se constituiu na dependência dos objetos da ação e dos campos de poder a ele conectados. A partir do diálogo com quadros da tradição antropológica e dados de campo coletados entre 2007 e 2010, este livro apresenta as reformas no colonialismo português tardio como parte de um processo de assimilação que imaginou os povos em Angola como portugueses do futuro.
... In fact, fusing Angolan peoples' diversity into a unified category was part of the race-making practices of planters and colonial authorities. Moreover, Europeans were actually manual labourers in plantations elsewhere (Bastos 2008). In his book, Castro mentioned the massive immigration of Europeans to Demerara, in British Guiana, but decided to ignore, voluntarily or not, the fact that these men and women were toiling in the sugar fields (idem). ...
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In the mid 19th century, plantations began to spread across multiple geographies of the Global South. This paper discusses this particular institution and phenomena, by focusing on the Atlantic circulation of coffee plants, agronomic knowledge and racialized labour practices. Combining approaches from mobilities studies and history of technology, it argues that plantations are particularly well suited to grasp the dynamics of displacement and resettling, and to connect the global and the local scales. More specifically, this paper follows a group of men, directly or indirectly involved in the trade of enslaved persons from Angola to Brazil, and analyses what travelled along with them, namely, plantation artifacts, technologies and ideas about labour and race. By doing so, it unveils the hidden links between the Paraíba Valley and São Tomé, and shows how plantations moved between these localities, and adapted to different social and natural environments.
... Abreviando uma história contada noutros lugares, temos que nos anos 1884-1845 um contingente de centenas de madeirenses foi transportado da sua ilha natal para o porto de Moçâmedes, hoje Namibe, no sul de Angola, a bordo do navio Índia -e com o nome de Maria Índia seria batizada a menina que nasceu durante a viagem, particularidade que me levou a mais conexões e cruzamentos auspiciosos (Bastos, 2008(Bastos, , 2009(Bastos, , 2011a. De Moçâmedes foram transportados em carros bóer através da serra da Chela até ao planalto da Huíla, de altitude de 2000 metros, e aí fundaram várias comunidades: Lubango, Huíla, Chibia, Humpata. ...
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Resumo Neste artigo faço uma retrospetiva dos estudos sobre epidemias a que me dediquei enquanto antropóloga, dando destaque a um fenómeno que interseta os interesses da antropologia da biossegurança e da história das plantações de açúcar e migrações laborais: os surtos epidémicos a bordo dos barcos de migrantes em finais do século XIX. Baseada num relato de mais de 50 mortes infantis por sarampo numa viagem de emigrantes da Madeira para o Hawaii em 1884, e constatando que existiu uma sequência de pelo menos três mortandades equivalentes no espaço de dois anos, discuto questões mais amplas de saúde, desigualdade, tráfico, corpo, género, família, não sem dar atenção à materialidade da vida dos navios que se foram reconfigurando no transporte de força do trabalho escravizada, vinculada e contratada.
... These discussions have begun to interrogate how Foucault's conception of biopolitics is responsible for "whitewashing" the coloniality and raciality of modern violence and power (Howell & Richter-Montpetit, 2019). Geographical work on biopolitics remains focused on overt physical forms of violence, confinement, bordering and erasure (Plonski, 2018;Schofield, 2018;Smith & Isleem, 2017) as well as the political technologies they rely on like security and surveillance practices (Bastos, 2008;Machold, 2018;Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 2015; Zureik, Lyon, & Abu-Laban, 2011), risk and supply chain management (Pasternak & Dafnos, 2018) and juridical innovations (Gordon & Ram, 2016;Hunt, 2015;Pasternak, 2014Pasternak, , 2017Tawil-Souri, 2012). Here studies focus centrally on theorizing the connections between race, white supremacy, and settler colonialism Clarno, 2017;Eastwood, 2019a;Mott, 2016Mott, , 2019Tatour, 2019). ...
Given the centrality of land, territory, and sovereignty to settler colonial formations, it is unsurprising that geographers and other scholars working on such topics are increasingly finding settler colonial studies fruitful in their research agendas. However, work on settler polities in political geography has historically been marked by the present absence of this framework, which has been consequential in terms of circumscribing the kinds of political analysis that geographers can offer. It also limits the nature, depth, and scope of radical critique of violent domination by skirting certain questions about the core drivers of dispossession and responsibility for them. This article examines political geographical engagement (or lack thereof) across each of four themes: population management/governance, territory/sovereignty, consciousness, and narrative, paying particular attention to works which challenge the present absence of settler colonial theory in political geography. We argue that analyzing settler colonial formations as such is essential to conceptualizing their workings and linkages or disjunctures with other forms of empire. Yet this focus also has broader political stakes related to geography's complicity with racialized state power, violence, and empire, as well as and efforts to decolonize the discipline.
... Chegaremos ao Hawaii, mas demoremo-nos ainda um pouco mais na conexão Madeira-Angola e na sequência de encontros inesperados que me proporcionou: o encontro com o eugenismo e suprematismo branco, mais tarde sonegado por um regime que adoptou a ideologia luso-tropicalista da cordialidade, mistura, mestiçagem como diferenciador positivo; o encontro com imagens da colónia original de madeirenses na Huíla numa publicação de 1890 dedicada a convencer os portugueses de que era boa ideia ir integrar colónias em África, quando poucos o queriam fazer; o encontro com um registo de nascimento a bordo, sendo a bebé baptizada com o nome do barco, Maria Índia; a ida ao cenário da colonização, e o encontro inesperado com o túmulo de Maria Índia e a tentativa de escrever a sua história com estes dois únicos dados, nascimento e morte; o encontro com os seus descendentes, e tomar conhecimento do facto de ela ter já, quando nasceu, dois irmãos nascidos em Honolulu, mostrando que os fluxos e trânsitos eram muito mais amplos e multivariados do que eu alguma vez poderia imaginar (Bastos 2008(Bastos , 2009(Bastos , 2011. 5 ...
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After reviewing field-archive combinations in previous research, I address Madeiran and Azorean migration to Hawaii. I discuss the contrast between the orally-transmitted theme that connects their migration to their familiarity of sugar cane and pineapple growing and what emerges from the archive, which indicates that it occurred in the context of a labor-intensive sugar plantation economy both under indigenous Hawaiian cosmopolitan monarchy and after annexation to the USA. In the end, almost 20,000 Portuguese islanders moved to Hawaii and made society there, shaping one distinct identification and ancestry group, thoroughly addressed by Chicago school sociologists and ethnicity scholars. I conclude suggesting to overcome current limitations in ethnicity/ethnogenesis studies by focusing on the hierarchized dynamics of racialization operated by the plantation system and its labor hierarchies.
A public debate has raged in Europe and the Americas for the last year, almost as predictable in its substance as in its form: Has the suppression of individual liberties, in the form of lockdowns, curfews, imposed mask-wearing, and vaccination justified by and indeed legitimated by the sanitary crisis? On virtually all levels of public debate, positions have been formulated on the right (or responsibility) of public authorities to require citizens to take measures in the name of their own personal health and the health of others. In International Studies, biopolitics has become the go-to concept for both analyzing and politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic. Three variants of biopolitical analysis dominate, overlapping, and mutually dependent: those stemming the insights of Foucault’s late work, those inspired by Agamben’s Homo Sacer, and those that extended the global analysis of Hardt and Negri. In a recently published book, The Inverse of Biopolitics, Laurent interprets biopolitics in an alternative vein, finding in the final phase of Lacan’s teaching, beginning around 1970, a preoccupation with the “speaking body,” condensed in the hybrid term parlêtre, both speaking-being and being-speaking. This article draws out the implications of this alternative conceptualization of biopolitics for the analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Population Politics in the Tropics explores colonial population policies in Angola between 1890 and 1945 from a transimperial perspective. Using a wide array of previously unused sources and multilingual archival research from Angola, Portugal and beyond, Samuël Coghe sheds new light on the history of colonial Angola, showing how population policies were conceived, implemented and contested. He analyses why and how doctors, administrators, missionaries and other colonial actors tried to grasp and quantify demographic change and 'improve' the health conditions, reproductive regimes and migration patterns of Angola's 'native' population. Coghe argues that these interventions were inextricably linked to pervasive fears of depopulation and underpopulation, but that their implementation was often hampered by weak state structures, internal conflicts and multiple forms of African agency. Coghe's fresh analysis of demography, health and migration in colonial Angola challenges common ideas of Portuguese colonial exceptionalism.
Conference Paper
Railways were key to the colonization of Africa. Railways facilitated the occupation of hinterland areas, the spread of new settlements, the trade in minerals and cash-crops, tax collection and the effectuation of a violence monopoly. From the 1930s onwards, infrastructural investments in Portuguese Africa were increasingly regarded as part of a colonial ‘development’ scheme. This paper analyses the emergence of railway geographies in Angola and Mozambique from a political economy and comparative perspective, focussing on the financing, chronological order and operation of different lines and the various actors involved, such as private companies and investors, metropolitan and colonial governments. I show that in the early colonial era railways were funded mainly by private capital - especially in Angola - but the colonial state and colonial budgets soon took over. Both colonies - especially Mozambique - raised indigenous taxes and coerced African labour to fund railway expansion. ‘Development’ through coercion thus hardly resulted in tangible welfare gains for the impoverished majority of colonial subjects.
The Belgians commonly referred to their colonisation of the Congo as a 'civilising mission', and many regarded the introduction of western bio-medicine as a central feature of their 'gift' to Africans. By 1930, however, it was clear that some features of their 'civilising mission' were in fact closely connected to the poor health of many of the Congolese. The Europeans had indeed brought scientific enquiry and western bio-medicine; but they had also introduced a harsh, repressive political system which, coupled with a ruthlessly exploitative economic system, led to the introduction of new diseases while already-existing diseases were exacerbated and spread. Tropical, or 'colonial', medicine was a new field at the turn of the century, linked closely both to European expansionism and human trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness. In 1901 a devastating epidemic had erupted in Uganda, killing well over 250,000 people.