One of the poster presentations during the 1st. INTERNATIONAL MEETING HISTORIES OF NATURE AND ENVIRONMENTS: PERSPECTIVES AND DIALOGUES (March 15-17, 2017) focussed on early modern whaling in Brazil.

Nina Vieira summarized her research:

Marine animals and their products abound in the historical sources of the Portuguese Expansion, from  marine shells to hippopotamus of the African coast, to the ox – fish of the Amazon or the whale  throughout the Sea Ocean. From currency trading to butter and oil, those animals were soon seen as  valuable resources to the Portuguese crown, not only in the establishment of the empire overseas as also  within Atlantic trading dynamics. Some of them were part of the exotic world, used by natives and  completely unknown to European eyes, as for instances the manatee, others were not new  per se but  their abundance was, as the whale. In the case of whaling in Brazilian waters  – today known as breeding  areas for some species  –  the commercial exploitation started at least in the beginning of the 17th century  in numbers of captured animals that have not yet been determined. The activity was a royal monopoly  from 1614 to 1801, and old practices of an indiscriminate hunt, as the killing of calves and females, are pointed as one of the major reasons for the decline of the activity success and profit. Some economic  reports and memories, focused on the economic value of the whales, offer interesting insights to rebuild a trajectory of change towards whales use. Having as a starting point that the relation between whales  and humans is marked by ambiguous perceptions since immemorial to present times, the study of  whaling and the economic, cultural and scientific values of this animal can largely contribute to  understand how marine environments and animals were interpreted and handled over time. Ultimately  can also foment the discussion on how ecosystems, populations and species are being perceived  nowadays and what are the impacts of the human dominance over nature.” (Text taken from Conference Book of Abstracts)


For more information contact : Nina Vieira, CHAM-FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa and Associação Para as Ciências do Mar. Portugal, ninavieira.pt@gmail.com.


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