Maria Graham’s Tropical Landscaping of Brazilian Independence
Keywords:tropical landscape, picturesque, botany, Brazil, travel writing, British Imperialism, nature-culture
This article argues that landscape is an instrument that travel writer and amateur artist and botanist Maria Graham uses to accentuate the momentous changes she witnesses during and after the Brazilian independence movement. Rather than being a background, landscape is a tool with which she inscribes the scene of Brazilian independence. Her self-awareness as a privileged British citizen leads her to champion a political movement that valorizes the mythology of innate British liberty, and landscape serves as an ideal medium through which to channel this conviction. Her 1824 Journal of a Voyage to Brazil demonstrates a way of looking at South American land that articulates a harmony between its natural and political structures; her construction of the Brazilian landscape orders it so as to align the natural and political environments. At the same time, her work bears witness to the discursive processes that forge the ever-unstable binary oppositions of nature and culture, aesthetics and politics.
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