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Social and cultural aspects of Tobacco in Portuguese America (1555-1711)

Grant number: 10/19461-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2011
Effective date (End): December 31, 2011
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - History of Brazil
Principal researcher:Jean Marcel Carvalho França
Grantee:Fernando Marques de Mello Júnior
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Humanas e Sociais (FCHS). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Franca. Franca , SP, Brazil


A native plant from the Americas, tobacco (nicotiana tabacum) had been highly used by settlers of the Portuguese America practically since the beginning of colonization. Constantly used by natives, mainly on witchy-religious rituals and on the healing of many local diseases, the weed soon prospered among the Portuguese people, negroes and mestiços due mostly to its medicinal properties, for it was believed by the settlers such weed was effective in curing a number of diseases of the new continent. The present work, however, intends to analyze the recreative use of the tobacco. Utilizing the analyzes of a few documents produced during the colonial period - narrations of travelers who crossed the territory during this time and also descriptions and agreements left, mainly, by Jesuit missionaries and Franciscans - this research will try to understand the way in which tobacco turned from a weed used only by the native 'barbarians' into the very favorite drug to accompany the laze time of the civilized people. It may be possible to say that the laze had been the most important multiplier of the recreative use of tobacco by the settlers, for, on such unknown lands of unpleasant climate to the European, petum was a great alternative to pass the time. Thus, more and more settlers seamed to surrender to the irresistible pleasure of enjoying the countless beneficial properties of the holly weed in order to kill time during the new continent's warm afternoons and evenings.

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