Summary Of Go-Betweens And The Colonization Of Brazil

1196 Words5 Pages
In history, what often occurred was that influential individuals who occupied the middle ground during exploration were forgotten. These third-party individuals are called go-betweens and they helped Europeans connect with different cultural groups. The 16th century brought enormous change by the Portuguese to the indigenous groups who lived in Brazil. The colonization of Brazil owes its success to transactional, representational, and physical/biological go-betweens. The book, Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, written by Alida Metcalf explores the roles of these go-betweens and their impact. When the Portuguese first landed in Brazil it was by accident, they were aiming for India. The admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral anchored his ships off the coast and he remained in Brazil for only ten days. Cabral understood that they needed to proceed with caution because everything they did was based on what occurred when the Portuguese first went to Africa. Cabral understood the dangers of not having go-betweens in a new land. Even though Cabral had many translators on his ships, they did not have anyone that were from Brazil. The translators were Africans or Afro-Portuguese. This leads into the first type of go-betweens mentioned in the book and it is transactional.
The most easily recognized of the go-betweens are the transactional. These go-betweens were translators, negotiators, and cultural brokers. They had the power to shift their loyalties and create complex relationships. Cabral had brought two dozen criminal exiles on his journey and because they did not have any translators he left two criminals at their first stop. When the criminals were left, their job was to learn the Indian customs, language, and culture. This showed the long-term interest that they had in Brazil. This laid the foundation for the creation of translators for future use. When criminals were left their job was to learn the Indian customs, which shows the long-term interest they had.
Many of the first transactional go-betweens are unknown to historians because of being semiliterate and not writing about their experiences. By the middle of the 16th century, one group of go-betweens that appeared were the Norman interpreters. They
Get Access