Geography Reference
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authenticity, they are qualified as mendigos, or less than human, and are thus denied
access to basic human rights. Today, the desire to be viewed as Guarani, rather than
poor peasants, has led Guarani children and young adults to decide to incorporate
certain alien features (feather headdresses, for instance) into their cultural repertoire,
especially when displaying themselves in public. Luiz Karaí, the young headman
of the Itaóca village, wears a head ornament at important business meetings among
non-Indigenous folks so that, as he put it in July 1998, “the white folks listen to what
I have to say.” Luiz Karaí, 35 years old in the year 2012, represents a generation in
which we can clearly see Guarani children and young adults mapping their space,
time, and the body as agents of their own destinies.
In Brazil alone, the total population of the Guarani nation has been estimated at
40,000 individuals, divided into three subgroups: the Guarani Kaiowá or Pãi
Tavyterã, located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul; the Guarani Mbyá, located in
São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande
do Sul; and the Guarani Nhandeva, also known as Avakatueté and Chiripá, who
live in Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo, and Paraná (ISA 2010). The largest Guarani
population outside of Brazil can be found in Paraguay, where approximately 25,000
Kaiowá live, followed by Argentina with 10,500, and 5,000 in Bolivia. In the state
of São Paulo, where the Itaóca Indigenous Land that interests us is located, there are
currently 1,307 Mbyá distributed in 13 territories (whether officially demarcated
or not), and 445 Nhandeva living in three Indigenous lands and two coastal shanty
towns in the cities of Itanhaém and Mongaguá (Ferreira 1999e; see Fig. 3.2 ).
The three Guarani groups - Mbyá, Kaiowá, and Nhandeva - are affiliated with
the Tupi-Guarani linguistic branch. The first two, Mbyá and Kaiowá, speak the
Guarani language with slight dialectical variation, and share cultural knowledges and
practices about apocalyptic time, transitory space, and the ideal of the indestructible
body. Historical perspectives on the migratory movements of the Guarani show a
concentration of Kaiowá in the area of the Paraguayan Chaco migrating towards
southwestern Brazil (what is now Mato Grosso do Sul), while large groups of Mbyá
were initially contacted by Spanish conquistadores in Argentina and southern Brazil
(Brandão 1992, Cherobim 1986, Métraux 1948, Monteiro 1984). The third Guarani
subgroup, named Nhandeva by anthropologist Egon Schaden (1974:2), is comprised
of remnants of various Tupi-speaking groups, such as the Apapokúva, Avakatueté,
Tanhyguá, and Chiripá. These nations were almost entirely decimated by Portuguese
and Spanish conquistadors, and ended up forming small contingents of people in
São Paulo, Paraná, and Mato Grosso do Sul who are basically Portuguese speakers
today. The extent to which the Nhandeva share the cultural repertoire of the other
two Guarani groups is not clear. Early studies about the Nhandeva categorized them
as “acculturated Indians” inevitably headed towards extinction (Cadogan 1950,
Métraux 1948, Schaden 1974). 12
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