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Posted on 28/6/13

Since the Portuguese invasion in the 1500, white people try to impose their way of seeing the world the indigenous people who have lived in these lands. This incessant massacre occurred for centuries, trying to reduce the indigenous way of life from trough prejudice and building knowledges about the indigenous without their participation. Father Antonio Vieira one of the most known Jesuits, who have been in Terra Brasilis, played an important role in the construction of stereotypes about Indians. Vieira prepares a whole range of ideas to say that the Tupinambá had two “vices”: falsehood and laziness.

More then 500 years after the invasion, we can find the same prejudices against the Indians planted in the formation of Brazil. It is curious to note that, currently, the so-called “Brazilian way” entails precisely the two “vices” that Vieira saw in the Tupinambá. A negative perspective on our way to face the difficulties encountered in everyday situations that try to subordinate us. The refusal to the imposed work and the resistance through a rebellious silence can be, in fact, an extremely potent and tactically interesting form to oppose to subordination. Rather than opposing frontally to an order or power, the “Brazilian way” uses an relative acceptance, that is, a shrewdness that can deceive and not let ourselves be deceived.

When the Indian is quiet, listening, White people think he is agreeing with everything. But in fact it is mulling to know if it serves him: he will only use what really does serve. All the time the Tupinambá listen in silence, but only embodies what is useful. His silence is mistaken for consent, but it is resistance. Similarly, the Indian is called lazy, refusing to work when he is imposed. Before the Portuguese arrived in Olivença, the ‘mutirão’ (joint work) funcionated very well. When someone needed to build a new house, he just had to call his relatives.


The “Brazilian way” also relates to the indigenous form of making agreements. They do not operate through closed contracts, in fact, pacts are always open to new negotiations. The Indian does not refuse to work for laziness, but for considering that this work does not serve him. He simply agrees to the terms which seem unfair to him, but does not follow. It is a denial of orders and reversal of the command. This way there is a resistance to the formation of a position of absolute power: through the open agreements, the power is always present at the base.


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