Making Patagonia an “Australian Argentina” and making the Amazon tightly Brazilian: depictions and political projects in Roberto Payró’s and Euclides da Cunha’s travel writings (1898, 1904-1905)

  • José Bento de Oliveira Camassa Universidade de São Paulo


The Patagonia and Acre territories were not part of Argentina and Brazil respectively by the time of their independences in the early nineteenth century. Instead, they were annexed during the Latin American Belle Époque, when both countries ascended economically and geopolitically and bore frontier impulses. Therefore, the incorporation of these territories was founded upon broader endeavors of national expansion and development. With these aspirations in their luggage, the Argentine journalist Roberto Payró traveled to Patagonia in 1898, while the Brazilian essayist Euclides da Cunha journeyed to Acre and the West Amazon in 1904-1905. Using a comparative history approach, this article shows how their travel writings debated modernizing and territorial integration projects and echoed similar plans, as both regions faced resemblant challenges. It also demonstrates how Payró’s and Cunha’s beliefs about race and national identity contrasted, a point that is linked to different mainstream ideas in Argentine and Brazilian intellectual debates, entailing dissonant points of view over which groups of people should ultimately populate Patagonia and Acre.

Author Biography

José Bento de Oliveira Camassa, Universidade de São Paulo