História (São Paulo)
On-line version ISSN 1980-4369
MIRANDA, Luiz Francisco Albuquerque de. The mestizo desert: the backlands and their inhabitants in travel records from the early 19TH century. História [online]. 2009, vol.28, n.2, pp.621-644. ISSN 1980-4369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-90742009000200021.
The objective of this paper is to analyze the representations of the backlands in the works by travelers and naturalists August de Saint-Hilaire and Johann von Spix & Carl von Martius, who traveled Portuguese America in the early 19th century. This study exclusively investigates the travel records from trips taken to the interior of the provinces of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Goias. The naturalists, led by European cultural references, strove to recognize and understand the areas which were still not considered civilized and yet were at the frontiers of colonization. The backlands, defined as a barbarian and desertic environment, poses a challenge for the scientists, who projected the progress of Brazilian society.
Keywords : Backland; Civilization; Saint-Hilaire; Spix & Martius.