SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 issue73Degenerate Heirs of the Empire. Climatic Determinism and Effeminacy in the Mercurio PeruanoThe Strike, the Carnival and the Elections: The World of Dock Work in Buenos Aires and the Configuration of a Working-Class Community in the Summer of 1904 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Historia Crítica

Print version ISSN 0121-1617


PEREIRA ANTUNES, Anderson; MASSARANI, Luisa  and  CASTRO MOREIRA, Ildeu de. “Practical Botanists and Zoologists”: Contributions of Amazonian Natives to Natural History Expeditions (1846-1865). hist.crit. [online]. 2019, n.73, pp.137-160. ISSN 0121-1617.


This paper analyses the relations between 19th century travelling naturalists and the indigenous inhabitants of Brazilian Amazonia. The region was a favourite among travellers during the latter half of the 19th century. On their travel books, naturalists reported not only on local Nature, but also on local inhabitants and their contributions to the expeditions, making them valuable sources for understanding the interactions between them and the natives.


The originality of the paper rests in the use of a diverse set of primary sources, in the form of 19th century travel books. The article contributes to the current historiography on Natural History expeditions while aiming specifically at the relations between naturalists and the indigenous inhabitants of the region.


The analysis relies on primary sources, which consist mainly of the travel books written and published by some of the most well-known 19th century travelling naturalists that visited the Brazilian Amazonia. It is from their personal reports and observations that we aim to understand, on the one hand, how these foreign naturalists interacted with the local indigenous inhabitants and, on the other, how the natives were able contribute to the scientific expeditions led by European naturalists.


It is safe to conclude that the indigenous inhabitants of Brazilian Amazonia were a constant presence during 19th century expeditions in the region. The interactions between naturalists and natives, sometimes mediated by a third party, were often essential to the success of these expeditions. The principal contribution of the indigenous inhabitants, as stated by the naturalists themselves, was the aid in the collection of specimens. The natives’ expertise on the habits and habitats of animals and plants, paired with their hunting and to navigational skills through the region’s complex river system, seem to have been a subject of admiration as well as a source of information and specimens.

Keywords : Brazilian Amazonia; circulation of knowledge; Natural History; 19 th century..

        · abstract in Spanish | Portuguese     · text in English     · English ( pdf )