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Amazonian RoutesIndigenous Mobility and Colonial Communities in Northern Brazil$
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Heather F. Roller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804787086

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804787086.001.0001

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“The Indians of This Town Ebb and Flow”Absentee Movements Within the Colonial Sphere

“The Indians of This Town Ebb and Flow”Absentee Movements Within the Colonial Sphere

4 “The Indians of This Town Ebb and Flow”Absentee Movements Within the Colonial Sphere
Amazonian Routes

Heather F. Roller

Stanford University Press

This chapter traces the spatial trajectories of Indians who left their assigned villages and relocated, sometimes repeatedly. Some of these absentees returned to their original territories or joined fugitive communities. But that path leading into the forest and out of the Portuguese colonial sphere was not as well traveled as many contemporaries and historians have assumed. An analysis of absentee records kept by village administrators during the second half of the eighteenth century reveals that among those absentees with specified destinations, the majority headed to other Directorate villages, where they became productive members of their new communities. This finding challenges the historiography’s characterization of the villages as state labor distribution centers that repelled, rather than attracted, migrants. It also calls into question the validity of the assessment, made by both contemporaries and historians, that native absenteeism had depopulated the colonial villages. Instead, one village’s population loss was often another’s gain.

Keywords:   absenteeism, fugitives, internal migration, colonial communities, community membership

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