“They were as we were” : the Tupínamba, travel writing and the missing ‘individual’ in New World historiography
Clarke, Christopher John
Using the travel writings of Amerigo Vespucci, the voyage of Pedro Álvares Cabral and Jean de Léry’s book, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, Also Called America, this thesis will investigate the role of the individual in the narrative of New World contact. This thesis specifically moves against the tendency in New World historiography to rely upon meta-narratives and a singular, universal European presence to explain the circumstances of the New World contact. This project seeks to gain greater understanding of the unique and divergent representations of indigenous cultures contained within travel writing by being sensitive towards the travel writer’s individual characteristics such as educational background, religion and participation in intellectual endeavours. The specific example used in this thesis will be the Tupínamba of coastal Brazil and will be supported by the anthropological understandings we have about this extinct indigenous group. Overall, this thesis seeks to show that in the creating of metanarratives regarding the New World experience of Europeans, it is easy to forget that the word “European” is as meaningless as the word “Indian” in terms of academic usefulness.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMiquelon, Dale; Nelson, Brent; Deutscher, Tom