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Peripheral eyes: Brazilians and India, 1947–61*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2015

Ananya Chakravarti*
Affiliation:
American University in Cairo, Department of History, AUC Avenue, New Cairo, 11835, Egypt E-mail: ananya.chakravarti@aucegypt.edu

Abstract

The post-Second World War era witnessed the need for new political forms to accommodate the aspirations for national identity of newly decolonized nations within the hegemonic structure of the Cold War. Although both Cold War historiography and postcolonial studies have analysed these phenomena, the place of Latin America in general and Brazil in particular remains fraught with conceptual difficulties, largely due to the very different (post)colonial experience of this region from the rest of the ‘Third World’. This article examines how three Brazilian intellectuals and diplomats observed India from its independence until the annexation of Portuguese India by the Indian Union in 1961. In exploring their peripheral gaze, it shows how Brazilian self-identification with the West, and particularly its complex relationship with the heritage of European colonialism, prevented a truly commensurable experience, despite a sense of commonality with India based on their peripheral position in the global political structure.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Footnotes

*

My thanks to the archival staff in Rio de Janeiro and to participants at the Latin American History Workshop and South Asia Graduate Student Conference, University of Chicago; the second Lusophone Postcolonial Research Network meeting; and the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies, University of Calcutta, where I presented versions of this article. Special thanks to Dain Borges, Patrick Iber, Romina Robles Ruvalcaba, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Hari Vasudevan, Susan Smith, Sherene Seikaly, Daren Ray, and Mouannes Hojairi. I am grateful too to the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Global History. All translations are mine.

References

1 Rotter, Andrew, ‘Saidism without Said: orientalism and U.S. diplomatic history’, American Historical Review, 105, 4, October 2000, pp. 1205–1217CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Klein, Christina, Cold War orientalism: Asia in the middlebrow imagination, 1945–1961, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003Google Scholar.

2 Westad, Odd Arne, The global Cold War: Third World interventions and the making of our times, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p. 396.

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5 For examples of recent work in this field, see Seijas, Tatiana, Asian slaves in colonial Mexico, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Antony, Philomena Sequeira, The Goa Bahia intra-colonial relations, 1675–1825, Tellicherry: Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, 2004Google Scholar.

6 Selcher, Wayne, The Afro-Asiatic dimension of Brazilian foreign policy, Gainesville, FL: University Presses of Florida, 1974Google Scholar, p. 16.

7 Pratt, Mary, Imperial eyes: travel writing and transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p. 7.

8 Ana Maria Lisboa de Mello, ‘Reflexos da cultura Indiana na poesia de Cecília Meireles (Reflections of Indian culture in the poetry of Cecília Meireles)’, in Ana Maria Lisboa de Mello and Francis Utéza, Oriente e ocidente na poesia de Cecília Meireles (Orient and Occident in the poetry of Cecília Meireles), Porto Alegre: Lobretos, 2006, p. 14.

9 Meireles, Cecília, Poesia completa (Complete poetry), ed. Antonio Carlos Secchin, Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 2001Google Scholar, vol. 1, p. 15.

10 Mello, , ‘Reflexos da cultura Indiana’, p. 19Google Scholar. On Brazilian orientalism, see Kuniyoshi, Celina, Imagens do Japão: uma utopia de viajantes (Images of Japan: a utopia of travellers), São Paulo: Estaçao Liberdade, 1998Google Scholar.

11 A striking example is the later poem, ‘Shakúntala’, in Meireles, Poesia completa, vol. 2, p. 1396.

12 Interview in Walmir Ayala, Solombra: um livro de magia (Shadow: a book of magic), Rio de Janeiro: Leitura, 1964, p. 20.

13 Ibid., 1608–1611.

14 My thanks to Sonam Kachru for pointing out the allusion

15 Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa (henceforth FRB), Arquivos Pessoais de Escritores Brasileiros (henceforth APEB), Arquivo de Isabel do Prado (henceforth AIP), Isabel do Prado to Meireles, Paris, 11 February 1948.

16 Ibid.

17 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 8 March and 18 April 1948.

18 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 27 March 1948.

19 Ibid.; FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 18 April 1948.

20 FRB, APEB, AIP, Arnaldo Pedroso d'Horta to Meireles, São Paulo, 20 May 1948.

21 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 28 April 1948.

22 Ibid.

23 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 23 July 1948.

24 FRB, APEB, AIP, Prado to Dhingra, Paris, 13 June 1948. Meireles also put the literary agent in São Paulo, Arnaldo Pedroso d'Horta, in contact with M. Roy, the editor of Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan, the press associated with Tagore's university. FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 10 October 1948.

25 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 1 January 1949.

26 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 10 May 1949.

27 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 23 July 1948.

28 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 28 September 1949.

29 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 10 October 1948.

30 Ibid.

31 Fundação Getúlio Vargas (henceforth FGV), CPDOC, Arquivo Getúlio Vargas, GV c 1942.08.10, Carlos Martins to Oswaldo Aranha, 10 August 1942, Washington DC.

32 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 10 October 1948.

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid.

35 FGV, CPDOC, Arquivo Oswaldo Aranha, OA cp 48.07.12, Masani to Oswaldo Aranha, 12 July 1948.

36 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 23 November 1948.

37 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 1 January 1949.

38 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 3 May 1949, 31 May 1949, and 9 June 1949.

39 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 9 June 1949.

40 FRB, APEB, AIP, Meireles to Prado, Rio de Janeiro, 1 January 1949.

41 FRB, Arquivo-Museu da Literatura Brasileira (henceforth AMLB), Arquivo de Abgar Renault (henceforth AAR), Krishna Kripalani to Abgar Renault, President, Rio de Janeiro, 10 May 1949.

42 Ibid.; FRB, AMLB, AAR, Ambassador Masani to Abgar Renault, Rio de Janeiro, 21 April 1949.

43 These newsletters can be found in the FGV, CPDOC, Arquivo Gustavo Capanema, R462, as well as in the FRB, APEB, AIP.

44 In the photographic archives of the defunct Rio de Janeiro newspaper Correio da Manhã, a survey of photographs from the 1950s filed under the label ‘Vistas Índia Geral’ reveal a dichotomy of iconographic themes – several images of the Taj Mahal, many images of India's poor. Arquivo Nacional (henceforth AN), Arquivo Correio da Manhã (henceforth ACM), PH/FOT/3076.

45 On Nehru's developmentalist nationalism, see Zachariah, Benjamin, ‘Anticolonial nationalisms: the case of India’, in Magdalena Zolkos and Anna Yeatman, eds., State security and subject formation, London: Continuum, 2009, pp. 133–153Google Scholar.

46 Arquivo Histórico do Palácio Itamaratí (henceforth AHPI), Ofícios (Recebidos) (henceforth O(R)), Estante 35, Prelataria 5 (henceforth E35, P5), vol. 10, no. 104, 6 March 1956. The Correio da Manhã archives show that images sourced from India's Press Information Bureau were overwhelmingly on developmentalist themes: AN, ACM, Arquivo Correio da Manhã, PH/FOT/6698/(18), (27), (31), (36), (43).

47 AN, ACM, PH/FOT/23045 (19); (25); (28).

48 Freyre, Gilberto, ‘Tagore: a Brazilian view of his lyrical poetry’, Mosaic, no. 15, 1976, pp. 7–11Google Scholar, available at http://bvgf.fgf.org.br/frances/obra/artigos/cientificos/tagore.htm (consulted 25 November 2014).

49 See Freyre's cartoon of this meeting of familiar strangers: Biblioteca Virtual Gilberto Freyre, ‘Gilberto Freyre conversando com Rabindranath Tagore (Gilberto Freyre in conversation with Rabindranath Tagore)’, New York, 1922, available at http://bvgf.fgf.org.br/portugues/colecoes/caricaturas/0001.htm (consulted 25 November 2014).

50 FRB, APEB, AIB, ‘Conferência pronunciada por Cecília Meireles na ABI em 1961 sobre a aproximação Oriente–Ocidente (Speech given by Cecília Meireles at ABI in 1961 on the rapprochement between the West and the East)’.

51 Cecília Meireles, Crônicas de viagem (Travel chronicles), ed. Leodegário A. de Azevedo Filho, Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 1999, vol. 2, p. 156.

52 Ibid. vol. 2, p. 158.

53 See particularly the first poem of the collection that Meireles wrote in India, entitled ‘Lei do passante (Law of the traveller)’, which expresses the pious attitude of the pilgrim. Cecília Meireles, Poemas escritos na Índia (Poems written in India), Rio de Janeiro: Livraria São José, 1961, p. 5.

54 Freyre, Gilberto, Aventura e rotina: sugestões de uma viagem à procura das constantes portuguesas de carácter e acção (Adventure and routine: suggestions for a journey in search of the Portuguese constants of character and action), Lisbon: Livros do Brasil, 1953, pp. 260–261Google Scholar.

55 Ibid., 261

56 Freyre, Gilberto, O luso e o trópico (The Lusitan and the tropical), Lisbon: Comissão Executiva das Comemorações do V Centenário da Morte do Infante D. Henrique, 1961, p. 88Google Scholar.

57 Bosma, Ulbe and Ribeira, Fernanda Rosa, ‘Late colonial estrangement and miscegenation: identity and authenticity in the colonial imagination in the Dutch and Lusophone (post)colonial worlds’, Cultural and Social History, 4, 1, 2007CrossRefGoogle Scholar, p. 46.

58 Nogueira, Franco, As nações unidas e Portugal (The united nations of Portugal), Lisbon: Ática, 1962, pp. 219226Google Scholar. On the Salazarist use of lusotropicalismo, see Cláudia Castelo, O modo português de estar no mundo: o luso-tropicalismo e a ideologia colonial portuguesa (1933–1961) (The Portuguese mode of being in the world: Lusotropicalism and Portuguese colonial ideology), Porto: Edições Afrontamento, 1998.

59 The collaboration resulted in the official bilingual publication Gilberto Freyre, Integração portuguesa nos trópicos/Portuguese integration in the tropics, Vila Nova de Famalicão: n.p., 1958.

60 Freyre, , Aventura e rotina, p. 9Google Scholar.

61 Ibid., pp. 302–7, 298–300.

62 Ibid., pp. 282–5.

63 de Souza, Teotónio R., ‘Gilberto Freyre na Índia e o “luso-tropicalismo transnacional” (Gilberto Freyre in India and “transnational Lusotropicalism”)’, Cadernos, Lisbon: CEPESA (Centro Português de Estudos do Sudeste Asiático), 2001, pp. 1–18Google Scholar.

64 Freyre, , Aventura e rotina, p. 267Google Scholar.

65 Bhabha, Homi, The location of culture, 2nd edn, Routledge: London, 2004, pp. 121–31Google Scholar.

66 Freyre, , Aventura e rotina, p. 268Google Scholar.

67 Ambedkar, B. R., What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables, Bombay: Thacker, 1946, pp. 40–102Google Scholar.

68 Freyre, , Aventura e rotina, pp. 281Google Scholar, 297, 288.

69 Ibid., p. 10.

70 João Alberto da Costa, ‘Gilberto Freyre e a intelligentsia salazarista em defesa do Império Colonial Português (1951–1974), (Gilberto Freyre and the Salazarist intelligentisa in defence of the colonial Portuguese empire, (1951–1974))’, História, 28, 1, 2008, p. 468.

71 Freyre, , Aventura e rotina, p. 30Google Scholar.

72 Details of Falcão's career until 1948 are taken from Hilton, Ronald, Who's who in Latin America, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1948Google Scholar, p. 86.

73 Felipe Botelho Corrêa, ‘The readership of caricatures in the Brazilian belle époque: the case of the illustrated magazine Careta (1908–1922)’, Patrimônio e Memória, 8, 1, 2012, pp. 71–97.

74 Antonio Alexandre Bispo, ‘Voz do Brasil junto ao Instituto Português-Brasileiro de Colonia: Ildefonso Falcão e a propaganda dos estudos lusófonos de inserções políticas em Pernambuco nos anos 30 (The voice of Brazil along with the Portuguese-Brazilian Institute of Cologne: Ildefonso Falcão and the propaganda of Lusophone studies in political interventions in Pernambuco in the '30s)’, Revista Brasil–Europa, 124/5, 2010, p. 2, available at http://www.revista.brasil-europa.eu/124/Ildefonso_Falcao.html (consulted 27 November 2014).

75 Lesser, Jeffrey, Welcoming the undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish question, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995, pp. 6364Google Scholar. Falcão's letter can be found at http://www.arqshoah.com.br/arquivo/1227/ (consulted 27 November 2014).

76 Bispo, ‘Voz do Brasil’.

77 Ibid.

78 Dumont, Juliette, L'Institut International de Coopération Intellectuelle et le Brésil (1924–1946): le pari de la diplomatie culturelle, Paris: IHEAL-CREDAL, 2008, p. 67Google Scholar.

79 Ibid., p. 69.

80 Ibid., p. 70.

81 The Brazilian foreign ministry even sought to enlist Freyre's services during his trip on Salazar's behest for its own purposes. Freyre, Aventura e rotina, p. 262. Indeed, the Brazilian embassy had followed both his and Meireles’ travels in India with interest. See, for example, AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 6, no. 4 (24 January 1953).

82 FGV, CPDOC, Arquivo Oswaldo Aranha, OA, pi 427.10.00.

83 Ibid.

84 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 6, no. 23 (7 June 1953).

85 In addition to monthly economic reports, special reports on key industrial sectors were also sent: AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 231 (18 November 1954); vol. 8, no. 232 (18 November 1954); vol. 8, no. 234 (20 November 1954); vol. 8, no. 268 (15 December 1954); on raw materials including tea, coffee, and monazite: AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 7, no. 39 (27 February 1954); vol. 7, no. 262 (7 December 1954); vol. 6, no. 9 (27 February 1953); vol. 7, no. 90 (21 May 1954); vol. 7, no. 100 (31 May 1954); and on Indian expansion into other markets: AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 97 (15 April 1955); vol. 9, no. 10 (14 May 1955); vol. 13, no. 346 (19 October 1956).

86 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 129 (25 July 1954).

87 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 10 (18 January 1955); vol. 12, no. 97 (5 March 1956); vol. 9, no. 112 (9 June 1955).

88 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 84 (31 March 1955); vol. 10, no. 112 (9 June 1955); vol. 12, no. 50 (14 February 1956).

89 Rupprecht, , ‘Socialist high modernity’, esp. pp. 510513Google Scholar.

90 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 7, no. 15 (23 January 1954); vol. 4, no. 36 (4 June 1951); vol. 8, no. 223 (12 November 1954).

91 See, for example, AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 5, no. 19 (18 June 1952); vol. 8, no. 130 (26 July 1954); vol. 7, no. 54 (23 March 1954); vol. 9, no. 86 (31 March 1955); vol. 8, no. 250 (30 November 1954); vol. 6, no. 37 (20 September 1953).

92 See, for example, AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 6, no. 36 (August 1953); vol. 6, no. 38 (3 October 1953); vol. 9, no. 185 (10 June 1955); vol. 12, no. 165 (2 April 1956).

93 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 154 (30 August 1954); vol. 12, no. 164 (2 April 1956).

94 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 26 (26 June 1954); vol. 8, no. 116 (4 July 1954); vol. 8, no. 160 (30 August 1954).

95 On the challenge to bipolarity presented by India's neutralism, see Dix, Jacqueline, ‘The United States and India: the challenge of neutralism to bipolarity’, in Alan P. Dobson, Shahin Malik, and Graham Evans, eds., Deconstructing and reconstructing the Cold War, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999, pp. 152–177Google Scholar.

96 Rupprecht, , ‘Socialist high modernity’, pp. 508509Google Scholar.

97 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 165 (13 September 1954).

98 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 5, no. 7 (30 January 1952); vol. 8, no. 131 (27 July 1954). Significantly, the trope is most explicitly stated in Falcão's scathing attack on the Indian populace's support of annexing Goa: AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 240 (26 July 1955).

99 Chakrabarti, Dipesh, Provincializing Europe: postcolonial thought and historical difference, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008Google Scholar, p. 8.

100 AHPI, O(R), E35, P 5, vol. 7, no. 2 (5 January 1954).

101 AHPI, O(R), E35, P 5, vol. 9, no. 50 (28 February 1955).

102 AHPI, O(R), E35, P 5, vol. 9, no. 112 (26 April 1955).

103 Ibid.

104 de Menezes, Adolpho Justo Bezerra, O Brasil e o mundo ásio-africano (Brazil and the Afro-Asiatic world), Rio de Janeiro: Zahar Editora, 1956Google Scholar. His prescriptions foreshadowed the foreign policy shifts under Kubitschek, Quadros, and Goulart, until the 1964 military putsch ended these experiments.

105 Falcão sent a confidential report to Itamaratí entitled ‘Política anti-ocidentalista do Senhor Nehru (Mr Nehru's anti-Western policies)’, triggered by Nehru's speech on apartheid: AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 94 (31 March 1955).

106 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 12, no. 23 (18 January 1956).

107 Selcher, , Afro-Asiatic dimension, p. 11Google Scholar.

108 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 4, no. 23 (24 April 1951).

109 Ibid.; AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 4, no. 24 (4 May 1951); vol. 4, no. 33 (22 May 1951); vol. 4, no. 37 (5 June 1951).

110 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 4, no. 43 (12 July 1951).

111 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 75 (29 April 1954).

112 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 7, no. 89 (18 May 1954).

113 Shirodkar, P. P., Goa's struggle for freedom, New Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1988, p. 95Google Scholar.

114 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 121 (27 July 1954).

115 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 5, no. 50 (24 December 1952).

116 Ibid. See also AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 80 (28 March 1955).

117 Falcão often compared Nehru unfavourably to Vinobha Bhave, who was widely perceived as Gandhi's true heir. AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 249 (1 August 1955).

118 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 20 (27 January 1955); vol. 9, no. 207 (1 July 1955).

119 See copies of letters annexed to AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 145 (24 August 1954).

120 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 145 (24 August 1954); vol. 9, no. 251 (2 August 1955); vol. 8, no. 260 (6 December 1954); vol. 8, no. 265 (10 December 1954).

121 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 9, no. 20 (27 January 1955).

122 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 8, no. 205 (22 October 1954); vol. 8, no. 280 (19 December 1954).

123 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 12, no. 105 (7 March 1956); vol. 9, no. 348 (10 November 1955).

124 AHPI, O(R), E35, P5, vol. 13, no. 211 (3 May 1956).

125 Selcher, , Afro-Asiatic dimension, p. 16Google Scholar.

126 Ibid., pp. 80, 116.

127 Ibid., pp. 82, 181. On this orientation towards Africa, see Rodrigues, José Honório, Brasil e Africa: outro horizonte (Brazil and Africa: another horizon), Rio de Janeiro: Editôra Civilização Brasileira, 1964Google Scholar.

128 Rodrigues, , Brasil, p. 156Google Scholar; Shirodkar, , Goa's struggle, p. 243Google Scholar.

129 Hershberg, James G, ‘ “High-spirited confusion”: Brazil, the 1961 Belgrade Non-Aligned Conference, and the limits of an “independent” foreign policy during the high Cold War’, Cold War History, 7, 3, August 2007, pp. 373–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

130 Museum of Modern Art Archives, Lincoln Kirstein Papers, correspondence from January 1943 regarding the Brazilian composer Camargo Guarnieri. See Jussilene Santa, ‘Martim Gonçalves: uma escola de teatro contra a província (Martim Gonçalves: a school of theatre against province)’, PhD thesis, Universidade Federal de Bahia, 2011, p. 61.

131 Moya, , ‘Continent of immigrants’, p. 24Google Scholar.

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