The ethnic diversity of Brazil is a fascinating amalgamation, according to Dr. Lisa Crutchfield, Assistant Professor of History at LaGrange College.
“Historically, Brazil is like many other countries who were settled by the Europeans,” she said. “First, there was the native population, followed by the Portuguese, who then brought in African slaves. What makes Brazil different is that each ethnic group has managed to maintain a cultural identity in modern-day Brazil.”
Crutchfield will be discussing that diversity in her 3D Journeys lecture at 10 a.m. Monday in the Dickson Assembly Room.
“We will be looking at the background of the variety of people who call Brazil home,” she said.
The country was settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century in what Crutchfield calls “a very typical colonial endeavor.”
“Portugal was looking to extend its reach westward, and searching for ways to make money. Ultimately, the country became a leading producer of sugar, and that led to the reliance on African slaves.”
Another interesting part of Brazilian history deals with an exiled court and a prince who didn’t want to go home.
As Napoleon Bonaparte was advancing on Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, in 1807, the king and his court fled to Brazil and established the colony as his empire’s capital. When it was deemed safe to return to Portugal, Dom Joao went home and left his son Dom Pedro I in charge.
But when Portugal pushed to have Brazil returned to its subordinate status as a colony, Dom Pedro refused and declared the country’s independence from Portugal.
In the 19th century, coffee became Brazil’s most important product, replacing sugar. The coffee boom brought about a wave of European immigrants (mostly Italians) – adding yet another dimension to the ethnic tapestry of Brazil.
But unlike some other colonies and countries, there has always been more of an acceptance of the intermingling of people and cultures.
“That helped each group maintain its traditions,” Crutchfield said. “Even today, the Brazilian culture is influenced by all those traditions.”
The lecture series will continue on March 25 as Dr. Mark Yates, Assistant Professor of Biology, discusses “Diversity and Ecology of the Amazon.” He has spent time on the Amazon River looking at forest systems and timber management methods.
Concluding the series on April 22 is college President Dan McAlexander with a session on “Brazilian Inspired Music.” Dr. McAlexander has earned degrees in piano performance from the University of Kansas, The Juilliard School and the University of Cincinnati.
For more information, phone (706) 880-8244 or email 3Djourneys@lagrange.edu