Documenting the Amazon
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Documenting the Amazon, 1700-1850

This website aims to bring historical sources about the Amazon to a wider audience.


While serving as a teaching assistant and instructor of Latin American history courses, I realized that there was a dearth of English-language sources on the lowlands of South America. There was almost nothing available on the Amazon, my own area of research, so I decided to translate a few of the most interesting archival and published sources that I had encountered.


The project is currently limited to the part of the Amazon Basin colonized by the Portuguese (modern-day Brazil), and the documents are from the 18th through the mid-19th centuries. Thus far I have completed five sets of sources (see Documents tab on the menu above) and hope to expand the offerings here to at least a dozen sets.

Each set contains several related documents that I have translated, along with an introduction that provides context and draws attention to the main themes

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, a few questions for class discussion, and recommended secondary readings. Any of these sets would work well in a colonial survey course, and particular sets would be appropriate for upper-division courses focusing on themes such as native peoples under colonial rule, cross-cultural encounters, popular culture, forms of resistance, etc.


Most broadly, my goal in selecting the documents was to highlight the diversity of historical experiences in the Amazon during this period. There were rich and poor settlers; Christian and non-Christian Indians; people who rebelled against state authorities and people who collaborated with them. Many, if not most, people in the Amazon found themselves somewhere in between these various poles.