Family and Society in Minas Gerais
Essay topic: Analyze the arguments posed by Furtado [she challenged the stereotype of the black female] in her reconstruction of the lives of Donna Francisca (Chica) da Silva de Oliveira and chief judge and diamond contractor Joao Fernandes de Oliveira and their descendants.
Context: Pay attention to the social and cultural practices of eighteenth century Portuguese America, especially the mining districts of Minas Gerais where men outnumbered women. Minas Gerais was an ?outpost? of Portuguese society (center was in Salvador de Bahia). Consensual unions were common in the eighteenth century. Refer to references in Furtado.
To address the question/topic posed, pay attention to eighteenth century Minas Gerais (mining districts in particular) and gender and racial imbalance that existed. Facts (or reasons): former female slaves were able to achieve a higher social status in the community (case of Tejuco).
Your main objective is to analyze the arguments posed by Furtado. What were those? She examined the lives of Chica da Silva and Joao Fernandes and their children by reconstructing bits and pieces found in the documents consulted. Furtado found evidence of ?stability? in their relationship (a consensual union, not a marriage). It is important to understand this point.
Additional Ideas to take into account as you organize your own essay:
Consensual unions ? provided appearance of ?legality and stability? without the blessing of the Church
In many instances, the relationship lasted longer than a ?legal marriage?
Evidence in the relationship between Francisca da Silva de Oliveira [Chica da Silva] and Joao Fernandes de Oliveira
Measures of ?stability?
Acquisition of patrimony (assets and properties)
Use of the name ?Oliveira?
Number of children they had together ? named after members of the parents? families
Longevity of the relationship
Refer to the thirteen children, their names and family references ? evidence of ?stability?
Chica gave birth at ?regular? intervals ? evidence that she and Joao Fernandes de Oliveira had a more permanent relationship
Did not breastfeed her children ? use of wet nurses ? common practice of ladies of the upper classes ? the role of these women was to perpetuate the family line
Chica?s case ? to assure that there were male heirs ? important evidence
Church rituals (role of baptism)
Baptism ? public ceremony
Introduction of the child to the Catholic religion ? also provided social status in the community
Selection of godparents ? important way to create social alliances
Obligations of godparents; considerations of loyalty and friendship
Property; House owned by Chica ? status associated with property
Hierarchical society ? Tejuco society
External appearances revealed the social position of the individual
Evidence ? way a person dressed; whether a person attended a public ceremony or not; a walk around the village ? represented opportunities to affirm one?s position ? a social role for the individual
Eighteenth century ideas about dress not as simple, included the right accessories and jewelry
Evidence of social status ? patrimony of the individual; meant that the person was not involved with manual labor
Chica and her descendants owned slaves
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