Freg J Stokes

Freg James Stokes (PhD in History, 2022). ‘The Hummingbird’s Atlas: Mapping Guaraní Resistance in the Atlantic Rainforest during the Emergence of Capitalism (1500–1768)’.
This thesis maps the resistance of Guaraní peoples to colonisation in the Atlantic Rainforest of South America during the emergence of capitalism, from 1500 to 1768. As such, it addresses a gap in the existing literature, where the resistance of stateless Indigenous groups has not been sufficiently acknowledged in both environmental histories of the Atlantic Rainforest and global histories of capitalism. The dissertation’s research method draws on archival sources, alongside interviews with contemporary Guaraní writers, to make maps and other infographics visualising and analysing this history.
In the sixteenth century, Guaraní resistance strategies impeded the creation of a silver route through the inland Atlantic Rainforest. The failure of the Spanish to overcome this decentralised resistance network contrasts with the rapid Spanish defeat of the nearby Inca Empire. Coupled with the subsequent Guaraní struggle against the yerba mate commodity frontier in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these actions obstructed capital accumulation in Paraguay, hindering local deforestation and ensuring the survival of autonomous Guaraní populations.
Simultaneously, in the coastal Atlantic Rainforest, appropriated Guaraní labour played an important role in the restoration of Portugal’s Atlantic Empire and the opening of the Brazilian gold commodity frontier. The subsequent flow of gold from Brazil to England assisted the development of British capitalism in the eighteenth century. Consequently, the thesis argues that this appropriation of Guaraní labour and knowledge should be acknowledged as a contributing factor in the global emergence of capitalism. But this process did not end with a complete victory for the forces of capitalist integration, with Guarani peoples continuing this political struggle to the present day, ensuring that the teko, the Guaraní way of life, endures.
Supervisors: Professor Sara Wills, Professor Sean Scalmer