The Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition (1882) and the presentation of Botocudo Indians: first contact performances in a Brazilian human zoo case

Marina Cavalcante Vieira About the author


This article reconstitutes the Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition, displayed in the Second Empire, in the year 1882, at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro. The reader it is invited to interpret this forgotten event of Brazilian history, with the intention of reconstituting the presentation of seven Botocudo Indians, brought to court for the purpose of being exposed to the public and at the same time analyzed by the researchers of the National Museum. After the participation of the Botocudo Indians in this exhibition, it is published in the news that some of these same Indians had been sent to Europe, generating heated discussions in the national press. From institutional documents of the National Museum and newspaper reports of the time, this article sheds light on the phenomenon of great anthropological exhibitions of the late nineteenth century, understood here as human zoos. Before this event and the practice of collecting and trafficking people and ethnographic objects, a mirror is opened, from which one can glimpse the formation of Brazilian anthropology and fundamental questions to the national identity.

ethnographic collections; Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition; human zoos; Botocudo

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