Andrea Roca: The Hinterlands and the Desert: Images of Indigenous ‘Nationalization’ in Brazil and Argentina in the Works of the Artist-Traveller J.M. Rugendas

Room 213 at MOA
Located near the MOA administrative entrance to the right to the main museum entrance and MOA café.

This presentation analyzes ‘nationalized’ images of certain Indigenous populations of Brazil and Argentina by examining two iconographic sets of paintings by the German artist-traveller, Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802–1858). In this presentation, Andrea Roca, Sessional Lecturer of Portuguese Language and Brazilian Culture, will discuss the conditions of their emergence and development in the first half of the nineteenth century, and their subsequent paths until the present. Conceptualized as artefacts and research mediators, these sets of images act as the bearers of social relations. They encapsulate and reproduce the socio-political dynamics of creating a specific image of and identity for Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian hinterlands and the Argentinean desert, and the concomitant places assigned to Indigenous peoples in the nation-building projects of these countries. Because the images naturalize conceptions of social differentiation, their documentary value rests on their potential to unveil the socio-political dynamics of their inception. And beyond their aesthetic and scientific readings, they must be seen as colonial products. These images document orders of cultural domination that have interpreted Indigenous populations as objects of thought and political intervention.

This talk by Andrea Roca is part of the MOA Visual and Material Culture Research Seminar Series.

This interdisciplinary seminar series on visual and material culture is for anyone with interest in this field across different departments at UBC and beyond. It is an informal forum to share research and exchange ideas, usually followed by conversations over a drink at Koerner’s Pub. Open to students, staff, faculty and community members in and around UBC. No registration required.

If you have questions, please contact

Image: J. M. Rugendas. “The Abduction. Scene of a battle between Araucanians and Argentine soldiers and the withdrawal of the Araucanians carrying the booty of a women”, 1848. © Augsburg, Kunstsammlungen und Museen, Graphische Sammlung.