Professor Lisa L. Crutchfield presented “‘I Remain’: The Enduring Diversity of Brazil” Monday morning, the second lecture in LaGrange College’s 3D Journeys “The Rhythms of Brazil” series. This lecture focused on the colonial roots of the country which ultimately led to its diverse population and present sugar cane industry.
In spite of the rain, individuals boarded the college’s van to be shuttled to Turner Hall for this month’s lecture. For some, this was their first time attending one of the college’s lectures in the 3D Journeys series and for others it was a regular event.
Betti Martin attended the lecture with her husband, Bill, and before she sat down she explained how much she and her husband look forward to the series.
“We have been to everyone of these lectures, we started with the very first one,” Martin said. “I think that this is the greatest gift that they (the college) can give to the community, just look at all of the new faces who are here today.”
LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander welcomed everyone and told the group about the five-year Global Engagement program that the college is undertaking to improve their students’ learning experiences.As part of the program, the college is promising every freshman a sum of $2,500 that can be used towards a travel program that may be taken during their junior or senior year at the college. In addition, revamped curriculum in every single area will help students become more accustomed to dealing with people from other cultures.
“Global Engagement will be helping the entire campus to be part of the larger world,” McAlexander said.
Crutchfield started her presentation by sharing with the audience the excitement and wonder people feel with the discovery of a new culture, a new group of people. She showed a slide that was of mostly dense vegetation, but upon closer examination two eyes could barely be made seen peering out. It was a slide of “The Man of the Hole,” an individual who was discovered in the late 1980’s and is believed to be the last survivor of a small Brazilian tribe. Crutchfield also showed a slide that was taken from the air of a group of people who were from an isolated tribe. Crutchfield said that the Brazilian government is trying to protect these last pockets of isolated cultures by a “no contact” policy.
Crutchfield said that there are about 68 tribes that are disconnected and that there is a belief that there are still people and cultures yet to be discovered.
Crutchfield traced the colonial period of Brazil.She showed a series of maps that the Portuguese had developed from their early exploration of the Brazilian shores. The first map was from 1489.
“People think that they know about their world,” Crutchfield said. Looking at the slide, she continued, “They thought that they knew what their world was like, they thought they knew it all.”
The map, at best, was a very distorted view of what we know about the world today. Crutchfield showed how the Portuguese view of the world slowly evolved as could be seen by their maps that were drawn in 1519, 1574, 1630 and 1719.
The Portuguese first used the Brazilian natives to harvest Brazilian dye woods until they depleted both the product supply and their workforce. The Brazilian natives fell prey to illnesses that they were exposed to by the Portuguese. The colonists then had to eventually change both their crop and source of laborers. Sugar cane became the new crop while imported slaves from Africa were forced to be their workers.
As a result of the earlier colonial years of Brazil, miscegenation, the mixing of different races, is responsible for the complexity of the modern Brazilian population.
“From a recent survey 43 percent of the population said that they were of the brown race (being from different racial backgrounds), but in reality if they were genetically tested it would be closer to 92 percent,” Crutchfield said.
During her lecture Crutchfield also outlined major differences between the use of African slaves in European America and Brazil. She ended the lecture with a question and answer segment.