Books
Héctor Palma

Savage and civilized

On a sunny January morning in 1833, through one of the Southern Channels of Tierra del Fuego, a British vessel sails alongside a smaller boat. The natives of the area, through screams and smoke, quickly communicate with each other the novelty, and dozens of canoes with hundreds of natives emerge to observe the peculiar event. Curious and friendly for the most part, somewhat aggressive at times, they observe the smallest boat approaching the shore with three Fuegians (two men and one woman) returning to their homeland after almost a year in London. To the surprise of their compatriots, who receive them almost naked, these three Fuegians dressed in European clothes, with short hair, speak English and they bring with them porcelain tea sets, bed linens, hats and dresses. This unique scene is only a small part of a larger story that was headed to oblivion at that hostile Southern tip of South America, except for the fact that it was part of extensive passages in the journey diaries of the two British protagonists of the same story: the expedition captain Robert Fitz Roy and the naturalist on board, and eventually one of the most influential scientists in the modern world, Charles Darwin. But in addition to those direct testimonies, a more or less standard version has been installed, restated time after time for almost two centuries; with a series of assumptions and errors that deserve to be reviewed and reassessed. The aim of this book is to reconstruct this story and, above all, review it from a critical perspective.
177 printed pages
Original publication
2021

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