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Intimate FrontiersA Literary Geography of the Amazon$
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Felipe Martínez-Pinzón and Javier Uriarte

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941831

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941831.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Cauchero of the Amazonian Rubber Groves

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Cauchero of the Amazonian Rubber Groves

(p.113) A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Cauchero of the Amazonian Rubber Groves
Intimate Frontiers

Leopoldo M. Bernucci

Liverpool University Press

This essay explores the iconic figure of the "rubber baron," during the rubber boom era (1890-1920) in the Amazon. Portrayed by travelers and fiction writer as Janus-faced, the rubber baron can be both elegant and brutal. Historical names of Rubber Barons all exemplify the double-sided nature of this type of individual. In this essay the author argues that, mirroring personal and cultural attributes of Sérgio Buarque de Holanda’s notion of the "homem cordial”, the rubber baron evades simple characterizations, which makes him a unique social type and a sinister by-product of colonization in Latin America. Liminal in his ability to suspend his brutality, the rubber baron can become a gentleman and then rapidly return to his original barbaric state. This allows him, for example, to traffic between the Amazonian rainforest and Paris with ease, until all his wealth is wasted and he is then forced to return to his rubber estate, once again, to re-build his fortune. Finally, the essay posits that the ambiguous character epitomizes the rubber industry. By wearing different masks the rubber baron conceals from the "civilized world" the horrors of slavery, rape, torture, and mass murder that were perpetrated in Amazonia's hellish gardens of rubber.

Keywords:   Amazonian Rubber Boom Genocide, Rubber Barons, Julio César Arana (1864-1952), “Cordial man”, Liminality

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