Manuel Raimundo Querino

Image: Leonardo Dourado


A man between two worlds

Manuel Raimundo Querino was born in the village of Santo Amaro da Purificação, in Recôncavo Baiano, some eighty kilometers from Salvador, on July 28, 1851, months after the abolition of the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans to Brazil. When registered, at least his father, a carpenter, would be a free black man. (CONRAD, 1985.) Therefore, the boy was almost privileged, born free, in a land and at a time of multitudes of workers bent by captivity. However, destiny played with the child, taking him to the brink of near perdition, only to elevate him, later, at a mature age, to a reference position in the culture of Bahia and Brazil.

In 1855, when Manuel was just four years old, the great cholera epidemic that devastated mainly the coast and the large agglomerations of the Empire of Brazil, also decimated, in the village of Santo Amaro, especially the enslaved and poor population, as always. Due to the scourge, as was also common, poor orphans were distributed among wealthy families, as “foster children”, a form of disguised servitude, which lasted post-slavery. (DALLA VECCHIA, 2001.)

The boy Querino, fatherless and motherless, was once again blessed by fortune, possibly being looked after by a family friend. Afterwards, he would have been taken to Salvador, where Manuel Pinto de Souza Dantas (1831-1894), judge of the Orphans and future head of the liberal cabinet of 1884-5, famous for an unsuccessful and restrictive emancipationist project, would have handed him over to the care of his co-religionist and friend Manuel Correia Garcia, who died in 1890.

Blessed by luck

Manuel Querino's “tutor”, lawyer, journalist, teacher, pedagogue and deputy, had been sent to study in Paris to found the Escola Normal da Bahia and organize primary education in the province. If Manuel Querino had received an explorer as his “godfather”, we would possibly not have heard from him today. He would have disappeared into the anonymity that fell upon the immense majority of the multitudes of poor free blacks at the time, fighting for survival in the context of the greatest difficulties.

Manuel Garcia didn't just use the boy's work. He was a man of the “Century of Enlightenment,” living under the heavy shadows of a slave country. Liberal, educator, spiritualist, emancipationist, founding member of the first Historical Institute of Bahia, he transformed the orphan into an expression of his world views, especially pedagogical, facilitating him to learn how to read and write and the trade of painter-decorator-drawer . By a close call, his godson did not end up with an architecture degree.

It is credible that the boy did not have greater artistic skills, not standing out as a painter, since no works, works or pictorial collaborations of his survived, despite the extensive research undertaken. There is also discussion about his authorship of a portrait of himself, exhibited at the Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos, without date or signature, and some illustrations from his publications. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 1 et seq.) Manuel Querino would, on the contrary, have stood out in essays with a technical and humanistic bias.

God is big, the bush is bigger

In 1864, the Empire went to war with the republics of Uruguay and Paraguay. The free citizens became intoxicated with patriotism and the volunteers abounded like flies in honey, hopeful of collecting the prebends promised to the defenders of the Fatherland, in a war that was expected to be soon. National ardor plummeted when the conflict proved long and painful. Then, the police authorities were forced to round up the combatants, often in a noose, the so-called “stick and rope volunteers”. For years, the cry “God is great, the bush is bigger” echoed throughout the Empire of Brazil. In those times, quilombos were repressed with almost only rebels and deserters! (MAESTRI, 2002; REIS & GOMES, 1996.)

In 1868, at the age of 16 or 17, perhaps escaping forced conscription, Manuel Querino traveled to Pernambuco and then to the interior of Piauí, where, after being recruited, he was sent to the Court, to be sent to the Prata slaughterhouse. And, once again, fortune smiled on him! From July 28, 1869, he remained ambushed at the Court, as a clerk for his battalion. Certainly not because he knows how to read and write or because he has a slight structure, as already proposed. A pre-literate soldier was doubly valued in the imperial troops and Querino, although slight, would have a physical build and health superior to the miserable people hunted across the country as “volunteers”.

It is possible that the young man was saved due to the providential intervention of a protector, perhaps Sousa Dantas. When he was mobilized, Caxias had abandoned the leadership of the fighting and was replaced, on March 22, 1869, by the inept Conde d'Eu, who joined the liberals. With the end of the war, on March 1, 1870, while Solano López and a few hundred followers were massacred in Serro Corá, Manuel Querino was promoted to squadron corporal. In October, he was demobilized like thousands of other soldiers. He was then 20 years old. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014; MAESTRI, 2017.)

Almost architect

In 1871, the year in which the so-called “Free Womb Law” was approved, which freed no one, back in his homeland, young Manuel Querino resumed his studies, enrolling in French and Portuguese courses at Colégio Vinte e Cinco de Março, concluded in 1874. These were not an evening language course, as evidenced by his mastery of narrative in the cultured standard of the Portuguese language. That year, he signed up to the Liberal Party, one of his protectors. (CONRAD, 1975.)

After completing his preparatory course at the aforementioned College, he entered the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios da Bahia, a mix of a technical school and college, as an employee and night student. To support himself, he worked on construction projects, certainly creating murals, drawings, geometric and allegorical paintings, etc. on the painting, the stucco, the escarole on the walls of the most prestigious buildings, which was widely used in those times and in those that followed.

He followed his master, the Spanish painter Miguel Navarro y Cañizares (1834-1913), with whom he had studied drawing, when he left high school, to create the Academy of Fine Arts, on November 19, 1877. In this free institute, the young Bahian He continued studying while working as a painter-decorator-drawer. In 1882, at the age of 38, Querino graduated as a draftsman from the Architecture department of the Academy of Fine Arts. For three years, he studied architecture, without graduating, due to a lack of teachers at the Academy.

Political life

Manuel Querino taught drawing at the Colégio de Orfãos de São Joaquim and at the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, and his works were awarded medals, honorable mentions, etc. He participated in examination and selection committees and boards. In 1893, he joined the Public Works Department, later called the Department of Agriculture, Transport, Industry and Public Works, as a 3rd Officer, without progressing administratively. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 2; NUNES, 2007: 239.)

Manuel Querino would not have denied his support for emancipationism and abolitionism, being more active in joining the republican movement. In 1878, he signed the Manifesto of the Republican Club of Salvador. (QUERINO, 2018: 144.) According to J. Teixeira Barros, his contemporary, he was among the “less prominent participants in the abolitionist movement”, with a “relatively anonymous or almost imperceptible presence”, regionally and nationally. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 8.) Unless I am mistaken, so far, his abolitionist articles have not been identified.

Manuel Querino was prominently involved in several initiatives in defense of craftsmen, artisans and workers, his professional category, when he was still young and as an adult. It was customary in civil construction for specialized work to be carried out by free craftsmen, black, mulatto, white and foreign, and the hardest work to be carried out by enslaved workers. There would be a strong professional and social separation between free and enslaved workers.

Workers' Party of Bahia

Querino joined the Sociedade Liga Operária Baiana (1876), formed under the tutelage of the Liberal Party, with the participation, among others heroes, by Rui Barbosa and Counselor Dantas, who ran the Society. The League was short-lived. In 1889, in the context of a strong crisis that undermined free urban labor in Salvador, Querino participated in the efforts to form a stillborn Socialist Party, a proposal defeated by a provincial deputy who participated in the meeting, as usual. (LEAL, 2004: 114, 128, 137.) Not only in Bahia at the time, socialism was a reference without precise content, infamous due to the proletarian insurrection of the Paris Commune in 1871. (LISSAGARAY, 1995.)

The Republic replaced the census vote, the right of the economically disadvantaged, with the requirements that the male voter-candidate be 21 years old and literate. Which was unusual, even among the so-called elites of the time. The reform kept the electoral college small, even expanding it in relation to the Empire. The oligarchic parties began to compete for the vote of urban “artists” and “artisans”, who had a good number of literate people and made an effort to launch “classist” candidates representing their demands through the channels of institutional political life.

On June 5, 1890, in Salvador, the Workers' Party of Bahia was founded by 56 “artists and workers”, a category that included “tailors, hatmakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, casters, gilders, machinists, typographers, lithographers, engravers, printers, bookbinders, goldsmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, carpenters, carpenters, marble workers, painters, draftsmen, shipwrights, hatters, blacksmiths”, among others. (CASTELLUCCI, 2010: 218.) Manuel Querino would have been a prominent part of that articulation, without however having been appointed to the “provisional table” of the meeting that saw the birth of the association. (LEAL, 2004: 144.)

Birth and division

At the end of the 2018th century, rural primary production largely dominated in Bahia. The Labor Party brought together mainly small contractors, various urban artisans, not a few of whom established their own businesses. The Party was concerned about the scarcity of work, the increase in the means of subsistence, the pricing of services, the reduction and exemption of taxes, the establishment of a monopoly on public works for craftsmen and artists, etc. (QUERINO, 150: XNUMX.) It was not aimed at proletarians looking to band together to face employers, owners of rare medium-sized industries, especially textiles. It sought above all to elect representatives of “artists” and “craftsmen” in municipal elections.

As soon as it was born, the Workers' Party split into two “currents”, that of the Luso-Guarany Directory and the “Central Commission promoting the Workers' Party”. The division would have arisen from personal differences and ambitions, under the strong direct interference of liberal-oligarchic politics. Querino was a member, with distinction, of the Luso-Gurarany Directory, referring, years later, in a certainly not exempt manner, to those events and his participation in them, in the book The arts in Bahia, of 1909, in the chapters “Operários Políticos”, “Movimento Operário na República”, “Congresso Operário”, previously published in Jornal de Notícias and Diário de Notícias. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 10; CASTELLUCCI, 2010: 218; 2018; QUERINO, 2018.)

In the aforementioned chapters, Manuel Querino praises counselor Manuel Pinto de Souza Dantas who, by creating dissent from the historic liberal party, would have “pitched his fighting tent in the workers’ camps”. According to him, “Councilman Dantas introduced the working class into politics”, with the “intent of making the class vote count”, the founding of the “Lyceo, Escola de Bellas Artes”. The Counselor would have granted “subsidies and protection” to the “Workers’ League” of 1876. (QUERINO, 2018: 143-4.)

In July 1893, the two tendencies – the Workers' Party and the Workers' Union – would have reunited in the Centro Operário da Bahia, which, in the following year, had five thousand members, mainly black, brown, mixed-race and white artisans and artists. A considerable number of adherents. The Center also did not recruit factory workers, dockers, railway workers, etc., and would have as “honorary, benefactors and benefactors” members of oligarchic politics, who worked as mediators in the Center's demands before the authorities, in the formation of electoral lists, etc. . Its orientation was strongly moderate and integrationist. (CASTELLUCCI, 2010: 211-12.)

The labor movement itself, classist, demanding, striking, revolutionary, aimed at organizing the world of urban work in the face of capital, would emerge in Salvador and Bahia, as in the rest of the capitals of Brazil, in the following years, under a leadership very soon hegemonized by anarchism. Not only due to the easy co-optation and electoral control allowed by open voting, anarchism denounced and boycotted the elections in the Old Republic (1889-1930) and harshly fought the collaborationist workers' leaderships. (ALVES, 1981; OITICICA, 1970.)

Anything goes electoral

The division at the time of the founding of the Workers' Party would remain within the reunited organization. In general, the candidacies of the majority group, in the direction of the Center, tended to be on the lists of the “party that controlled the government and the State apparatus”. Those from minority groups, in opposition, commonly participated in elections with “single candidates” and on the lists of the oligarchic opposition to the government party. Candidates from the Center rarely ran for legislative positions, much less for state or federal executive positions, a monopoly of representatives of the dominant classes.

Manuel Querino had a prominent participation in the disputes within the Workers' Party and the Workers' Center. He stood at the 1890 elections and was elected to the Municipal (executive) Council in the 1891-2 legislature. Trying to be re-elected for the 1892-3 legislature, he would have finished 22nd in the vote, surpassed in votes by several “classist” candidates. Francisco Luiz Azevedo, a mixed-race blacksmith, with his own workshop, was elected to the Municipal Council, with five thousand votes, with oligarchic support. It was precisely in 1993, at the height of his political activity, that Querino entered public service.

In 1896, the Centro Operário mobilized for the elections, committing to a “more active, proactive, autonomous and independent stance” and promising that its representatives would only deal with the “legitimate interests of the people”. Manuel Querino preferred a more reliable ticket, presenting himself on the list of the Federalist Republican Party, oligarchic and pro-government, obtaining only one substitute. The Workers' Center elected five substitutes. (CASTELLUCCI, 2010: 211, 221.)

Still in 1896, due to a serious oligarchic political crisis and resignations in the Municipal Council, substitutes from the Centro Operário and Manuel Querino, substitute on the list of the Federalist Republican Party, were sworn in. In a new election, on July 11, 1897, Querino was “redirected” to the Municipal Council as a member, obtaining a high number of votes, always on the list of the then majority republican faction. However, in the elections for the 1899-1900 legislature, he came in 23rd place, with just 324 votes. On that occasion, several members of the Centro Operário, supported by oligarchic factions, were elected to various positions, in the Municipal Council, as substitutes, for district councils, etc. (CASTELLUCCI, 2010: 226.)

The exceptionality of Manuel Querino

From November 7, 1896 to October 5, 1897, the backlands of the State of Bahia were set on fire by the peasant revolt of Canudos, which ended with the massacre of councilor combatants, without support from the urban population. We do not know whether Manuel Querino and the Centro Operário spoke out about the massacre of the population of the Belo Monte countryside farm. (MACEDO & MAESTRI, 2011.)

After the electoral defeat of 1899, Querino abandoned active politics, where he had achieved relative success, dedicating himself to intellectual production. Despite his important intervention in Bahian working-class political life, it is an apologetic exaggeration to propose him as “one of the first class leaders of the Bahian working-class movement” and a pioneer of laborism in Brazil, as two scholars Hardman and Leite would have done, during the celebrations of the 2014st Centenary of the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 7: XNUMX) His political intervention and the movements in which he participated did not have a “classist” bias and he never raised or worried about raising a “labor program for the country”. The Workers' Center remained active for many years.

Manuel Querino was fifty years old at the time. He would also achieve good results in his new intellectual endeavor, due to his unquestionable gifts as a writer and thinker and some support that has not yet been sufficiently revealed. During his lifetime, Querino would publish several books, several of them republished in a limited period of time, which was exceptional at the time, due to the high cost of editions, even more so for a black author.

Apart from two technical manuals and minor works, in 1909, Querino published The Arts in Bahia: foreshortening a historical contribution, bringing together his articles on the subject, with a second expanded edition in 1913. Also in 1909, he launched Bahian artists: biographical indications, by Imprensa Nacional, with a reissue in 1912. The first edition received a conto de réis subsidy from the Municipal Authority, showing that his passage through the political world had been fruitful. In 1916, launched The Bahia of yesteryear: popular figures and facts, also republished in 1922. And, in 1917, it appeared The African race and its customs in Bahia. An editorial campaign that not many Bahian authors of their time would have managed to carry out.

During his lifetime, Manuel Querino undertook the difficult struggle for the social progression of members of the disengaged middle classes of his time, even when they had support from the dominant classes. Difficulties, as was their case, increased when they suffered the stigma of African origin. As usual, he sought to consolidate his advancement in society by integrating and gaining support in the institutional world. To this end, he sought to distinguish himself in the world of Arts and, above all, Literature, a traditional path to recognition in society at the time. He did so without denying his class and race roots, having as one of his central themes the African and Afro-descendant contribution to the construction of Brazil.

In his writing, he highlighted in positive light the associations to which he belonged and had belonged, his institutional training and professional activities. The list is immense: painter, draftsman, architect, founding partner of the Geographic and Historical Institute of Bahia; corresponding partner of the Historical and Geographic Institute of Ceará; corresponding member of the Paris Academic Society of International History, with which he certainly corresponded in French; captain of the National Guard... (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 4.)

Querino's upward trajectory in life is not out of character, to a high degree, for the time in which he lived. There are thousands of descendants of enslaved workers who progressed and not just when they received the rare support granted by members of the so-called elites, as in their case. The two most prominent Brazilian writers, Lima Barreto (1881-1922) and Machado Assis (1839-1908), recognized and renowned as fiction writers during their lifetime, had strong African ancestry. Unlike Querino and Lima Barreto, Machado de Assis tried to hide, as far as he could, his mulatisse.

Exemplary mulattoes

In one of his writings, Manuel Querino listed successful mulattoes, all dead, certainly to avoid creating problems: “Visconde de Jequitinhonha, Caetano Lopes de Moura, Eunápio Deiró, the privileged Rebouças family, Gonçalves Dias, Machado de Assis, Cruz and Souza, José Agostinho, Viscount of Inhomirim, Saldanha Marinho, Father José Maurício, Tobias Barreto, Lino Coutinho, Francisco Glicério, Natividade Saldanha, José do Patrocínio, José Teófilo de Jesus, Damião Barbosa, Chagas o Cabra, João da Veiga Muricí”. (QUERINO, 1918.)

In previous centuries, there were many mulattoes, brown, black Creoles and even Africans who managed to progress in the slave world. In the 1738th century, mulatto composers, especially from Minas Gerais, dominated baroque music in colonial Brazil, with compositions paid for in ounces of gold. Antônio Francisco Lisboa, O Aleijadinho (1814-1981), from Minas Gerais, son of a Portuguese man and a captive, was simply the most excellent sculptor, carver, carpenter and mulatto architect of his time. During captivity, through different paths, factory workers, after achieving freedom, became small and medium-sized slave owners. (LUNA, XNUMX.)

One of the richest men of his time, the Afro-descendant Francisco Paulo de Almeida (1826-1901), owner of around “a thousand souls”, was awarded the title of baron of Guaraciaba, in 1887, by the imperial state. These individual advances were due to the fact that society in pre-abolition Brazil was governed by a colonial slave-based socioeconomic order, not a racial one. As today, what divided society was property, at the time, expressed mainly in the ownership of enslaved workers. All in the context of the strong anti-black racism that persisted after 1888.

A black, mulatto or brown person, owner of enslaved workers, was elevated to the category of slave owner, despite social reticence in a reason directly proportional to his degree of Africanity, reservations increasingly hidden depending on his level of wealth. There were perhaps dozens There are thousands of black men and women who joined the middle and upper social segments during more than three centuries of slavery, thanks to luck or due to immense efforts. In general, they diluted themselves into the so-called white community, through marriage, also as a strategy to consolidate the movement for social elevation. (MAESTRI, 2023.)

However, the former captives who progressed were always a tiny portion of the millions of Africans and Afro-descendants who vegetated in slavery. And, between the first and second, class differences dominated and not color identity. It was a proverb in the slave quarters that “a black man becomes a butler, he no longer cares for his partner”. In current times, a rare few app workers will become successful “entrepreneurs”, while multitudes of their former colleagues will continue to be exploited to the core. These exceptional cases did not weaken and weaken, but strengthened and strengthened the deep social structures that support labor exploitation.

A luminous work

Manuel Querino explored multiple genres of essay writing, often in pioneering ways – historiography, anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, memoirs, journalism, etc. Its exceptionality lies, essentially, in having published, in 1918, a pioneering interpretative sketch, under pre-Abolition Brazilian society, with flashes of singular radicality – The black settler as a factor in Brazilian civilization. An interpretation that, as usual, had no development and continuity in our social sciences, as it was unacceptable to the dominant classes.

Relative cancellation that included the also luminous works of the young communist intellectual Clóvis Moura, Rebelsõis from the slave quarters: quilombos, insurrections, guerrillas, from 1959, and from the French, Trotskyist and surrealist Benjamin Péret, from 1956, What was the Palmares quilombo? (MOURA, 1959; PÉRET, 1956; MAESTRI & PONGE, 2002.) Even though they were known and published, these works did not receive the approval of the hegemonic intellectuality coeval with them, preventing them from being legitimized and leveraging works based on their germinal perceptions about Brazilian social formation.

The aforementioned book by Clóvis Moura was snubbed and rejected by his two famous Party comrades, whom he consulted for support – Édison Carneiro and Caio Pardo Júnior. Facts that we refer to, in work, with documentation provided by Clóvis Moura himself, in a book published in honor of Clóvis Moura, with little circulation, and, later, in an expanded form, in our book Son of Ham, Children of the Dog: the enslaved worker in Brazilian historiography, by. (SÁVIO, 2003; MAESTRI, 2022.)

In 1916, at the age of 61, Manuel Querino retired as “third official of the Secretariat of Agriculture”, with full salary. He died in Salvador, in Matatu Grande, on February 14, 1923, aged 71, in the year following the founding of the Communist Party of Brazil – section of the III International. At the time of his death, he left a widow and two living children, Paulo Querino, artist and violinist, and Maria Querino, a teacher. His friends and confreres were present at his funeral, and his death was announced in the main newspapers in Brazil. From the 1930s onwards, with the boost of anthropological and sociological studies on black people in Brazil, their pioneering works related to Afro-Bahian and Afro-Brazilian history and customs began to be highlighted. (GLEDHILLE & LEAL, 2014: 3,17.)

The centrality of the world of work

Among Manuel Querino's best-selling books, the following stand out: The Bahia of yore, of 1916, and the Culinary art in Bahia, posthumous, from 1928. Less prominent was his brief essay, The black settler as a factor in Brazilian civilization, published, as a booklet, in 1918, by the Official Press of the State of Bahia, and reissued in 1955. On the cover of the 1918 publication, it reads: “Memory presented to the 6th Brazilian Congress of Geography, meeting in Belo Horizonte”, which would have taken place , however, in 1919. (CARDOSO, 2011.) In 1980, the pamphlet was published at number 13 in Revista Afro-Ásia.

The synthetic writing rehearses a sociological interpretation that, like especially the aforementioned work by Clóvis Moura, placed the enslaved worker, hegemonic until Abolition, not as an object, but as a demiurge of Brazilian society. Thus, at the level of interpretations, he carries out an attempt to dissolve classist readings about productive work and racist phantasmagoria about Africans and Afro-descendants. A radicalized vision, from the 1970s onwards, in important sociological, historiographical and economic works, with emphasis on Jacob Gorender's masterful thesis, colonial slavery, 1978. (GORENDER, 2013.)

As could hardly be otherwise, in the initial articulation of The black settler (…), Querino relied on the current stage of development of alienated social sciences, in vogue in Brazil and in much of the world. In explaining the causes of the black-African civilizational process and the genesis of slavery, he embraced the diffusionist vision of triumphant imperialism, proposing that the entire civilizational advance, with emphasis on the Black Continent, came from a “point” of cultural “diffusion.” superior”, in the past or present. Endogenous development in Black Africa was thus denied. (MAESTRI, 2022 A.)

The black Bahian intellectual proposes that European “missionaries” were the “introducers of indispensable knowledge to the African way of life” and that the “Portuguese colonies” contributed to the civilizing process of the Continent. In the context of these visions in tune with the official literature of the time, he records his cumulative vision of the civilizational process, as a tenden- tially unitary phenomenon. In another work, he recalled that “all peoples” had gone through elementary levels of development. (QUERINO, 2021: 14.)

Builder of nationality

The Bahian thinker also supported the theses of the birth of Luso-Brazilian slavery from European greed; the Arab example and “other European nations”; the climate reality and the terrible human quality of the first “white settlers” – “vicious” “convicts”, “prison soldiers” –, a current thesis at the time in Brazil. He also agreed with the geographic and racial determinist view of the impossibility of Europeans carrying out systematic manual labor in the Tropics.

This interpretation would be reaffirmed and consecrated by Gilberto Freyre, in 1933, in Big House and Senzala, despite the hundreds of thousands of European settlers who toiled, from sunrise to sunset, without melting, especially in the Center-South and South. (FREYRE, 1990.) Manuel Querino proposed: “The Portuguese left a temperate zone to settle in a burning climate, different from that of the metropolis, they would be incapable of resisting the rigor of the tropics, of clearing forests and clearing the land [...]” (QUERINO, 1918: 14).

For him, in view of the socio-biological incapacity and moral disqualification of the “white colonist”, the civilization of Lusitanian America would essentially be born from the quality and industriousness of the “black colonist”, as defined by the enslaved black-African worker, who presents as a true “work hero”. Productive work seen by him as a qualifying and emancipatory human action, I risk proposing, from a Marxist perspective, unless I am mistaken, completely unknown to him.

Since 1530, for a few decades, the slavery of natives had been hegemonic in colonial Brazil. Its replacement by the factorization of black Africans was due, also according to Querino, to the superiority of the African worker. (MAESTRI, 2013; MONTEIRO, 1994.) Another thesis embraced by Freyre in his racial and racist hierarchization of the founding “races” of “Brazilian nationality”. Manuel Querino proposed that, with the coastal stocks of natives decimated, the “parasitic” Portuguese, without “love for work”, went to wrest the “powerful arm” and most reliable “of the African” from the “inexhaustible granary that had been the black continent” , to boost colonial production of vegetables and minerals. (QUERINO, 1918: 8, 9, 16.)

Unlike Freyre, Manuel Querino challenged the Portuguese as an agent of civilization. The sociological laziness of the Portuguese colonizer would have favored “men of color”, introduced exclusively to “mechanical” arts considered by the colonizers and their heirs as “punishment” and “infamous”. By highlighting the civilizing character of productive work, even in slavery, in a radical methodological inversion, he revealed the essences, on the one hand, of the enslaved worker, builder of the wealth of which he was deprived, and, on the other, of his opponent, the Portuguese enslaver -Brazilian, social parasite, unable to survive, except at the expense of his host, who, in turn, lived, despite the enslaver.

Class against class

The resistance of captives, in various forms, was a constant concern for the enslavers, who explained it above all as a product of the savagery of Creole and African captives. (GOULART, 1972.) In the 1860s, in poetry of singular radicality, Castro Alves defined the positive and revolutionary social and individual character of all expressions of that resistance. (MAESTRI, 2000.) Querino reaffirmed this vision and organized traditional forms of resistance in an evolution that suggested the captive's growing awareness.

He spoke of suicide as an elementary form of opposition to slavery, overcome when the enslaved understood that it was their exploiters who should “suffer a violent death”. So, they did not “hesitate” in putting “in practice the poisonings” and “butcherings” of the executioners, to then resort to “escape and collective resistance”, in “work centers” – quilombos – where they did not thrive “. vagabonds and evildoers.” He saw the quilombo as an American recreation of an African practice, due to the productive effort of the strong arm of enslaved people enjoying freedom conquered and maintained even if “by a thread”. (QUERINO, 1918: 24-28.)

Manuel Querino proposed: “Exhausted by a series of constant struggles, restricted by all means in his aspirations, but firm, resolute, confident in his ideal, the African slave did not become disillusioned, he did not despair; he tried another resource, actually more in keeping with the spirit of conservation – confidence in one's own work.” (QUERINO, 1918: 29.) One of the chapters of the essay is entirely dedicated to forms of liberation through productive effort.

A man between two worlds

Possibly in an effort to accommodate the intellectual world of the time, of which he was a part, Querino returns to the thesis of the only relative severity of the enslavers and the full dedication of the captive to the owner's family, two views dependent on the slave owners' interpretations of slavery, dominant in his time. Regarding punishment, he wrote: “Punishment on mills and farms, although not generally refined in wickedness and perversity, was often severe, and sometimes cruel. But, the gentlemen who abused this were pointed out with social repulsion.” (QUERINO, 1918: 19.)

He also defended the proposal of unconditional dedication of the domestic captive to the enslaver's family. “It was in the landlord's home that the black man expanded the noblest feelings of his soul, collaborating, with the love of his parents, in the creation of the tender descendants of his masters and masters, with the cultivation of obedience, acceptance, respect for old age and inspiring sympathy, and even love, to everyone in the family.” (QUERINO, 1918: 34)

His apologetic vision of the relationships between domestic captives and their enslavers was certainly also a response to the demonization of urban and domestic captives, in the last days of slavery, when the coffee growing sectors made an effort to have them sold to work on the coffee plantations. , where there was a painful shortage of arms – for the owners, of course. The vígreat executioners: pictures of slavery, from 1869, by Joaquim Manoel de Macedo, is an excellent example of fictional prose literature, which was used to spread the proposal of transferring captives from cities and homes to the coffee industry. When the novel was published, with its poisoning African sorcerers and mucambas perverting virginal ladies, Manuel Querino was eighteen years old. (MACEDO, 1991.)

Querino was born under slavery, only overcome when he was 37 years old. In the final decades of his life, he moved away from direct productive activity to live off teaching and public service, dying when the advanced interpretations of the social world offered by the modern proletariat began to take hold in Brazil. In the context in which he lived, Querino could not go beyond a working-class, plebeian, democratic reading of the world, which, in his case, in the post-Abolition period, assumed an integrationist social program.

The radicalism of Castro Alves (1847-1871) and Luis Gama (1830-1882) was a product of the struggle for the destruction of slavery, when the abolitionist assumed a revolutionary character. Abolitionism that Querino supported but did not give in to, perhaps because it would take him away from the path of life he had defined himself. It would take four decades, the consolidation of the hegemony of capitalism and the centrality of the contradiction of work versus capital in Brazil, for Clóvis Moura and Benjamin Péret to advance their pioneering revolutionary visions on Brazilian social formation.

The world of work

Manuel Querino described, in a pioneering way, the social scenario of a world born in slavery and in the opposition of exploiters and exploited due to different positions in the social structure, imposed by coercion. It would have helped him to undertake this leap in analytical quality to have worked in construction, as a craftsman, for many years, still under slavery, before rising to the status of professor and public servant.

In the second half of the 1889th century, in construction, work that required mastery of artisanal techniques was commonly carried out by free workers – black, mulatto, mixed race, white, foreign –, while the hardest tasks fell to enslaved workers. Also during the Old Republic (1930-2004), artisan painters, decorators, etc. They worked on the paint and stucco of the highest class buildings, on the wooden ceilings, applied scariola to the walls, etc. (GUTIERREZ, XNUMX.)

Manuel Querino focused on slavery seeking to rescue the centrality of the enslaved African and Afro-descendant, when thirty years ago, the enslaved worker had become extinct as a social category and the free black worker, his descendant, lived in difficult conditions, in a predominantly rural semi-colonial society-economy, under the heavy legacies inherited from slavery. (MAESTRI, 2021.)

Manuel Querino spoke of the black-African captive with his eyes fixed on his Afro-Brazilian descendant who, in some cases, he saw as an almost social regression in relation to the African. A vision perhaps inspired by the splendor of an African producer born in a free society, in contrast to his descendants, born and raised in a pathogenic slave society. He defined the “white” settler as a parasitic being and the free and enslaved Africans and Afro-descendants as an example of creativity and industriousness.

He seems to point out as the solution to the anathema launched, by “scientific racism”, on the Brazilian nation, due to its black and mixed-race population, the racial and social overcoming of the African and Portuguese categories. (RODRIGUES, 1977.) He proposes as the country's main “greatness” and resources the “soil freedom”, as was traditional, and the “talent of the mestizo”, which was new. He was, in this sense, a “miscegenist”. He lists, as an example of this national wealth of resources, magnificent mestizos.

Manuel Querino, a revolution for language

The language that Manuel Querino uses in his narrative is a magnificent but little studied aspect of his production. At a time when pompous, scientific and rebarbative language dominated in essayism, he wrote in a neat, direct, precise and simple way. His writings record a resource writer who did not produce longer narratives due to lack of material conditions and time. His greatest contribution was to unveil, as proposed, the true essence of the enslaved worker in the “black slave”, as a demiurge of national society, beyond the class views of his time, which are perpetuated in many current readings.

Some of his works, always written with perfection, constitute an equally powerful eulogy for the millions of enslaved Africans who built nationality, at a time when they were dying out in the traditional abandonment and poverty known to old workers, especially ex-captives. Querino is aware of the pall of oblivion that spreads over the past with the disappearance of the last generations of enslaved Africans in Brazil. (QUERINO, 2021.)

Above all, but not only, in The black settler as a factor in Brazilian civilization, Taking on the guise of a linguist, Querino sensed the impossibility of presenting the new profound social realities that he had revealed using language and categories generated in the process of social exploration that he criticized. In the essay in question, his writing records the need to revolutionize traditional linguistic forms to express the new and essential content of the phenomenon he unveiled. (CARBONI & MAESTRI, 2005.)

Querino designates the inhabitant of Africa as “African”, and not anachronistically and ideologically as “black”, a concept that is used only five times in the work in question. He certainly intuited that the form “negro” obliterated the fact that, in Africa, until the arrival of the Europeans, there were not “blacks” and “blacks”, but Africans of different cultural traditions, divided by multiple national, ethnic, generational, sexual, economic, social. African populations became “black” only in relation to the voracious Europeans who landed on the continent’s coasts.

Even decades before drafting The black settler (…), the term “African” functions as synonyms for “slave”, a category he uses fourteen times, less frequently using “slave African” and “enslaved African”. Manuel Querino only uses the category “slave” five times, in isolation, to refer to Africans or Afro-descendants who were made slaves. In general, to replace the term “slave”, the category “black settler” or “black settler” and even “work hero” are used. It also uses the terms “negro” or “preto”. The term “slave” is used to designate, above all, enslaved workers in Greece and Rome.

Enslaved language

The category “black settler” is a pertinent suggestion to define the quality of the work of direct African and Afro-descendant producers on factory farms. However, it confuses the enslaved African and Afro-national worker with the free black peasant, from before and after 1888, diluting the distinct forms of exploitation they knew. The category “white settler”, used once, does not refer to production, but to the act of colonizing. “For this reason, the white settler came (from Portugal to Brazil) with a spirit tormented by greed […].” And the two categories do not register the class opposition between them, between the enslaver and the enslaved.

Querino overcomes this contradiction by commonly using the past participle to describe the man and woman subjected to slavery – “enslaved African” or, above all, “enslaved”. This verbal form suggests a hidden agent, the enslaver, who enslaves someone, the enslaved, who had known freedom or was, by nature, a free being. This form is beginning to be used today in social sciences.

Manuel Querino would intuit that the use of the category “black slave” and “black” emphasized the “black” and “black” color of the skin of African and Afro-descendant factory workers, ideologically and socially devalued, in relation to a “white” color. , prestigious. Thus, the aforementioned use of the past participle, pure, that is, enslaved, dilutes the alleged servile nature suggested by the substantization or adjectivation, as occurs, partially, in the Aristotelian forms of origin – “black slave” and “African slave” and, fully , in the word “slave”. (CARBONI & MAESTRI, 2005.)

Manuel Querino's effort to overcome the language inherited from slavery was opposed to the concealment or veiling of social contradictions allowed by nominal forms and vocabulary inflections, an issue that only today arouses the interest it deserves. In this sense, “enslaver” is the name that most perfectly explains the essence of the exploiter of enslaved workers. Like the terms “slave” and “enslaved”, the forms “enslaver” and “slave” also have semantic insinuations that conceal the act of exploitation.

Through the suffix “ista”, the nominative “slavemaker” describes a being in favor of slavery, as an institution, and not an active agent of achieving that order, through the submission and violent exploitation of the enslaved worker for its benefit. The substitutions of “black”, “black”, “slave” for “enslaved worker”, on the one hand, of “master”, “slave-master”, “slaver”, etc., for “enslaver”, for on the other, they reestablish the historical connection, in the context of their singular determinations, between the exploited and explorers of yesterday and today. It recomposes Ariadne's thread that unites, in diversity, all forms of work and exploitation.

Good and bad use

In recent years, Manuel Querino has aroused greater interest in academic and intellectual circles, due to the value of his production, an attention previously semi-monopolized by Bahian scholars, infatuated by this valuable intellectual produced by his homeland. This is allowing easier access to his writings and a better understanding of his life. Despite new and valuable studies, such as the doctoral thesis by historian Maria das Graças de Andrade Leal, we still do not have an exhaustive biography of this outstanding thinker. We lack a meticulous and exhaustive collection and publication of his articles written in newspapers and magazines. Despite some valuable works, unless I am mistaken, we lack more precise information about his life as a construction worker and his years in political activism.

This greater knowledge will also allow us to better understand the analytical quality leap made in The black settler (…), from 1918, and its insertion in the tenuous and little-known line of critical interpretation of the Portuguese, Portuguese-Brazilian and Brazilian slave order since the XNUMXth century. Critical views of slavery carefully silenced, repressed, canceled by the dominant social classes.

Manuel Querino certainly belongs to the line of Portuguese, Portuguese-Brazilian and Brazilian intellectuals who expressed, directly or obliquely, in the world of representations, enslaved workers in opposition to the slave order that oppressed them. Among them, the Old Christian and grammarian Fernão de Oliveira (1507-1581), in a more oblique form, the New Christian and Jew António Nunes Ribeiro Sanches (1699-1783), the paradoxical Portuguese-Rio slave charqueador, stand out. -grandense Antônio José Gonçalves Chaves (c. 1781-1837), the poet Castro Alves (1847-1871). (MAESTRI, 2022.)

The millions of lost Querinos

In the context of this First Centenary of Manuel Querino's death, a pragmatic, utilitarian and opportunistic reading has been advanced, which uses the life of the magnificent Bahian intellectual, with reductive political-ideological objectives. In this assessment, Manuel Querino would be an excellent example of the path to be followed for the individual social ascent of Afro-Brazilians in the context of the current capitalist social order. He would be a kind of patron of the much-hyped “black entrepreneurship”, promoted day in and day out by the mainstream media and other apparatuses and institutions of big business.

In this opportunistic cut and paste of history, for random use in the present, there are many who point to the black intellectual from Bahia as an unavoidable example of the magnificent results of “positive discrimination” actions, in general, and university “quota policies”. , in particular. Manuel Querino would have been able to overcome the likely miserable fate of a poor black child in the slave world, only due to the individual protection he could count on, boy, teenager and adult, from prominent members of the ruling class.

There is a grain of truth in this proposal. If it weren't for this support, the boy Manuel would possibly have disappeared in the whirlpool of anonymity that sucked in millions of other Querinos abandoned to their fate in slavery and post-Abolition. It was the exceptional opportunities that allowed him to progress in his effort to achieve social mobility, despite the enormous obstacles he faced, in a slave and post-slavery society full of social barriers and racial prejudices. And thus, you can obtain many individual victories and social contributions.

These readings obliterate an unavoidable reality. Manuel Querino was born into the free black community and was driven by the rare support given to him. This allowed him to develop his intelligence and determination, to progress, first, as an artist-craftsman, in a slave society, and, later, as a teacher, politician, writer and public servant, in the post-slavery period. He thus integrated, with relative success, into the fragile middle segments of the end of the Empire and the Old Republic.

Free and enslaved

Having been born free, Manuel Querino was able to follow a path, albeit difficult, that was completely forbidden to enslaved people. In the almost forty years that he lived, free, under slavery, millions of Africans and Afro-descendants made slaves, in order to free themselves, had to flee to a quilombo, across the border, to try to emulate the black population in the backlands and cities . For enslaved people, the doors of freedom opened most commonly upon death, unproductive old age, or after earning or purchasing manumission, broken by hard work.

For the captives who were born and lived under slavery, a highly formulaic society, the path to freedom was not an impossible literacy, and, in the end, not very functional, as has already been suggested. Even today, the level of education of the working classes has increased significantly, without this corresponding to a decline in exploitation, unemployment, bad employment, low wages, etc. Throughout the developed world we already have tens of thousands of Uberist graduates and post-graduates, among them, not a few historians. What interested the captives was to free themselves from captivity, individually or in groups, and destroy it, when possible.

Mutatis mutandis, Crowds of exploited and marginalized people of all colors today live in a situation somewhat similar to that of captives in the past. For them, it doesn't matter if some lucky person rises in the despotic national society, if they continue to be sunk in all kinds of difficulties. Manuel Querino defined the worker as the demiurge of the world of his time, when he lived under the material backwardness of slavery and post-Abolition. Today, when unproductive wealth overflows in impudent form throughout the world and in Brazil, it is an accident to propose, to the exploited, as a goal, the social promotion of a few privileged, truly lucky people, consolidating class society.

 There is no point in advocating that a few more board, generally in the second and third class of the train of happiness for the privileged, which despite having room for everyone, continues to move forward half-empty, with the effort of the exploited as its locomotive. The fight for social emancipation must be a movement that advances and strengthens, inexorably embracing, in the here and now, all those who are subordinate, without privileges and exceptions. In Brazil, there are well over ten million young people “between 15 and 29 years old who do not study or work”. (Extra class, 11/12/2023.) Nothing against someone shouting and demanding that the State water their vegetables, as long as they don't say demagogically that they're trying to make it rain on everyone's garden.

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Sons of Ham, sons of the dog. The enslaved worker in Brazilian historiography (FCM Editora).

Article written with the support of the linguist Florence Carboni .


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