Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Art History, Chapman University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of California / Santa Barbara
Feathered Identities and Plumed Performances: Tupinamba Interculture in Early-Modern Brazil and Europe

My dissertation reconstructs the material and ritual culture, based on featherworking, of the Tupinamba peoples of 16th­and 17th-century coastal Brazil, one of the most poorly understood pre-Columbian cultures of the contact period. The colonial "interculture" that developed between the Tupinamba and the recently arrived European merchants, Jesuit missionaries and colonial authorities centered on ritual performance, theater and ceremonial costume. I refer specifically to a number of cultural spaces that served as sites of Tupinamba performances: Brazilian coastal forests, Jesuit missionary settlements called "aldeias", early-modern European courts, and the heterogeneous collections which preserved the extant ritual feathered capes, bonnets and rattles. I demonstrate how this colonial interculture had an effect far beyond Brazil's shores, fashioning European attitudes towards the New World at large and thus also the colonial process itself. Further, I discuss how it reciprocally shaped and was shaped by the emerging discourses of natural history, ethnography and art well into the 19th century.