CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed



Session 14 The Other and the Foreign: Contact, Curiosity, and Creative Exchange

State University of Rio de Janeiro


The literary description and visual representation of American animals played a very important role in the European perception and definition of America. In this process, American animals could be used as devices for 'othering'', i.e., for the formation of an identity construed as the other of Europe.

This presentation will analyze the particular case of the armadillo - perhaps, the only American animal to be systematically incorporated into European iconography in the 16th and 17th centuries. Armadillos were often represented as hybrids or monsters, and they were readily associated with elements or actions that became stereotypical in the construction of America – namely tupinambás, animal hybridity. and cannibalism. The armadillo - a strange, unfamiliar animal in European eyes – thus came to embody the unreachable alterity of the natural world overseas. In spite of its gentle nature, in texts and images it would be associated with war, violence and degeneration.



Maria BERBARA (PhD, University of Hamburg) is professor of Art History at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). She specializes in Italian and Iberian art history during the Early-Modern period, and has written extensively on the cultural and artistic exchanges between Italy, Portugal and the New World. Among her recent publications are the papers “Imperial Propaganda and the Representation of Otherness in Portugal and Its Colonies in the Early Modern Times”, in the book Visualizing Portuguese Power. The Political Use of Images in Portugal and its Overseas Empire (Zurich: Diaphanes, 2016); “Reflections on Portuguese Cosmopolitanism during the Manueline Period and its Aftermath in Luso-Brazilian Art and Historiography”, in the Jahrbuch fur Geschichte Lateinamerikas (2013); “Nascentes morimur: Francisco de Holanda as Artist, Reader and Writer”, in the book The Artist as Reader. On Education and Non-Education of Early Modern Artists (Leiden: Brill, 2012), as well as the editing of the book Portuguese Humanism and the Republic of Letters (Leiden: Brill, 2012). She has coordinated several international projects, among which Unfolding Art History in Latin America, funded by the J. P. Getty Foundation, the conference Global Dialogues. The Italian Renaissance as seen from Latin America, funded by Villa I Tatti and the Kunsthistorisches Institut of Florence, and the Brazilian-Spanish project Para uma historiografia hispano-brasileira da arte ibero-americana, jointly funded by Brazilian governmental research agency Capes and the Spanish Ministry of Education.