Settlers, gauchos and ethnic groups

The flight mentioned in the last text was to Porto Alegre. For reasons I can’t specify, I know a lot of southerners, both in Salvador and on the internet. Therefore, although I had never set foot in Rio Grande do Sul, I had already heard and collated a lot of explanations from people who did not know each other about how this business of being or not being a colonist, of being a gaucho or Rio Grande do Sul works. . The explanations are all cohesive, even if they come from different states.

And one very interesting thing that goes unnoticed by southerners themselves is that they are closer to the Indians than to ordinary Brazilians in the following aspect: have ethnicities. Indian has ethnicity, southerners have ethnicity. Bahia, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Paraiba, they have no ethnicity.

What is ethnicity

Thanks to the racist laws promoted by the progressive agenda, the Brazilian, with its racial background, has come across the terms race, ethnicity and color, mixed and used as synonyms.

Race is a biological concept widely used in the 19th and 20th centuries. The intention was to create a classification in the manner of Linnaeus, capable of accounting for the different human types found around the globe. The traditional range of white, black, yellow and red races comes from this endeavor. Breeds happen to have color names. In the history of Brazil, we work with the notion of colors, without classifying aspirations of a scientific nature. When we say “John is black”, we are only referring to the color of his skin. If we want to further refine the classifications about João, we can say that he is drawn to the cafuzo, as he has straight hair. Or we can highlight that you have green eyes. Another common classification (which the Black Movement detests) is that of “fine features”. But even though João is a fine-featured black, even if he is coveted for his rare combination of phenotypes, João is still black. If his ancestry is questioned, it is only to explain what kind of miscegenation produced him. And, very important thing, João is not seen as a member of a biological collectivity defined by science.

Color and race are different things. Color is a thing of Brazil, race is something of a rich white country that is scientific. (In the important 19th and 20th centuries for this matter, this included Argentina.) When it became ugly to talk about race, cultural anthropologists invented the concept of ethnicity: a human grouping united first by language, culture, and in between of all this, blood ties. Well, saying “red race” doesn’t help anyone who wants to study Tupinambás and Nambikwaras. For that, first you have to learn the language, then follow the customs.

Just as in Brazil, there is a confusion between the notion of color (which we understand) and the notion of race ( that we don’t understand), in Europe the advent of national states gives rise to a difficulty in understanding what is ethnicity and what is belonging to a national state. If by chance a child of non-integrated immigrants gains French nationality, that makes him equal to other French people before the State, but not as much as the rest. It is possible, therefore, to be French in a bureaucratic sense and French in an ethnic or cultural sense. So much so, that Europe is all over the place.

Tupis and ploughs

It is an imprecision to say that Brazil is made up of Indians, whites and black people. Is it not important to specify that the whites in question were Catholics, Latinos and Portuguese? If, instead of Portuguese, Protestant Germans were the main Europeans around here, surely this territory would be something different from Brazil.

And what about the Indians? The base in Brazil is Portuguese, marrying the daughter of a Tupi chief. The Tupi were all over the Brazilian coast and were related to the Guaraní (in Tupi, “carijós”), who lived in what is now Paraguay and had a lot of interchange with São Paulo because of the bandeirantes. From the Semiarid to the South there were the Jes, to whom the Jesuits strove to evangelize teaching Tupi instead of Portuguese – to the fury of the Marquis of Pombal.

(A very popular survey came out of FAPESP saying that the hillbilly erre belongs to the Jés slaves. It doesn’t convince me, because there aren’t erre caipira in the Northeast, but there are in Paraguay. It must be Guarani.)

Meanwhile, in the far south between Rio Grande, Uruguay, Argentina and a small part of Paraguay were the charruas, wild Indians who escaped Jesuit rule and whose integration relations with the Crown I do not know. What I know about them is that they ended up mixing with the Spaniards and the Portuguese.

The entire area that consumes mate yerba and a lot of beef is the plow area, and this culture was maintained through national states and different languages. The words Tche and Gaucho exist in this region. As the Argentine Ernesto Guevara called everyone “chê”, Tchê became his nickname, written in Spanish as Che.

Gaúchos and gauchos

As far as I know, there are a lot of etymological explanations of the word gaucho (or gaucho, with tonic “a”, in Spanish), none of which are very reliable. It is interesting to note that the meanings and connotations vary according to the languages.

In Portuguese, there is an ambiguity of the term. There is the gaucho with the ethnic meaning and the gaucho with the bureaucratic meaning. In terms of bureaucracy, people from Rio Grande do Sul are born in Rio Grande do Sul, even though they speak Italian at home and live on chicken with polenta. In the ethnic meaning, it serves to mark a specific culture (as in “churrascaria Gaucho”, or when pointing to the Gaudério), either celebrating it or differentiating it from non-Gauchos Riograndens.

No moreover, let us note that “gaúcho” is not a pejorative or flattering term. It is, today, merely descriptive.

In the Spanish language, however, gaucho has no bureaucratic meaning, has pejorative connotation and serves to mark a culture.

Colonists and “Brazilians”

Thus, we can assume that Brazil and Argentina dealt with immigration in opposite ways . In Brazil, the gaucho was raised to an official symbol, while colonist is a term with a pejorative connotation that designates the members of immigrant communities that settled in the South.

This is an ethnic distinction. When a person from Paraíba goes to Rio de Janeiro and raises a family there, his children are from Rio de Janeiro, even though they live in a favela full of Paraíba. They stand out from other cariocas just because they have a better knowledge of the northeastern culture. Cariocas have a term to designate the northeastern migrant from the Semiarid region: it is “Paraíba” and has a pejorative connotation. But son of Paraíba is not considered Paraíba. And what is not lacking in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro is Carioca with northeastern ancestors – a sign that Cariocas accept the children of Paraíba for marriage. The same goes for Bahians in São Paulo.

With the settlers in the South, things are quite different. There are different types of settlers, because there are immigrants from different national origins. A “German” settler is “German” not because he was born in Germany or has citizenship – he was not born and probably is not. He is German in the ethnic meaning of the term. I have before me a package of wafel made in Ivoti with the following slogan on the label: “The real Dutch wafel.” It is understood that “Dutch” there also has an ethnic meaning. It does not mean that it was made in Holland, but that it was not made by imitators of the Dutch colonists.

If they themselves are German, Italian, Dutch, etc., who will be the inhabitants with ancient roots in Brazil ? Well, Brazilians. So a colonist is, from a bureaucratic point of view, a Brazilian; but, from a cultural point of view, a non-Brazilian. Recipe for confusion.

The issue of marriage is important. In principle, they only got married within their own communities, then they opened up to different communities (for example: marrying “German” with “Italian”) and today there are already settlers descended from “Brazilians”. They say things like “My father is Brazilian”, implying that they themselves are non-Brazilians. But if you ask “So are you a settler?”, they won’t like it, because the term is a bit pejorative and the settlers’ reputation is not the best in capitals.

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