Based on research in Brazil, the author discusses three local situations of conflict and social protest, using a transnational perspective. She concentrates on the use of universal claims of Catholicism in local negotiations of religious change under the influence of different cultural campaigns. The clashes in question are divided into those involving local political problems and those concerning the religious domain itself. The analysis shows that in each of the cases—albeit with different intensity and outcome—the interconnection between translocal processes and the meaning and experience of locality has a significant role in the power plays and the formulations of religious or social protest in the local context.
Marjo de Theije
João Feres Júnior
The author argues that the development of a critical history of concepts should be based on a programmatic position different from that of original Begriffsgeschichte, or of its main interpretations. By drawing upon theoretical insights of Axel Honneth, he reassesses the basic assumption of Begriffsgeschichte regarding the relationship between the history of concepts and social history, and calls attention to the problems that spring from focusing analysis almost exclusively on key concepts. According to Feres, special attention should be paid to concepts that are socially and politically effective, but, at the same time, do not become the subject of public contestation. Based on this programmatic position, he ends the article proposing a sketch for organizing the study of conceptual history in Brazil along three semantic regions.
Navigating a critical ethnography of wealth elites
Drawing on ethnographic research on philanthropy within a Brazilian family business, this article proposes a “critical ethnography” of wealth elites. This family’s narrative of historical commitment to social responsibility is crucial to the success of delicate succession processes within the family firm. By insuring the reproduction of the wealth and status of elite families, such business succession processes serve in turn to maintain the structural inequalities shaping Brazilian society. In this family’s account of its past, however, a series of very different activities— rooted in philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), labor legislation, and commerce—are collapsed within a single, coherent narrative of historical commitment to social responsibility, which sits at odds with alternative versions of this history presented by sources outside the family.
The making of race and class in Brazil and the United States
Sean T. Mitchell
The extensive literature critiquing the weakness of cross-class Afro-Brazilian solidarity is perhaps equaled in size by the structurally similar literature on the weakness of cross-race working-class solidarity in the United States. For many critics, marginalized or exploited people in Brazil and the United States do not have the political consciousness they ought to have, given apparently objective conditions. What if we started, instead, from E. P. Thompson's insight that class is a “cultural as much as an economic formation,” that it is “a relationship and not a thing,” acknowledging that political consciousness is the partially contingent result of culturally specific struggles and utopias, as much as of determinate historical conditions? Drawing on ethnographic research on conflicts between Afro-Brazilian villagers and Brazil's spaceport, supplemented by comparative data on the mobilization around inequalities in Brazil and in the United States, this article sketches a comparative anthropology of political consciousness that attempts to avoid the objectivizing pitfalls of the genre.
The concept of internal colonialism h as been used to frame studies of marginalized populations exploited by the dominant or majority population. Brazil’s regional inequalities have gained notoriety, as wealth tends to be concentrated in the southern regions, while poverty is most rampant in the north and northeast. Inequality in Brazil is connected to geographic region and related to complex factors such as race, ethnicity, color, kinship, and class, and is deeply rooted in Brazil’s colonial history. Using data from in-depth, qualitative interviews with seasonal sugarcane workers, this article argues that the inequality that motivates their migration pattern is rooted in internal colonialism. These temporary labor migrants travel from northern and northeastern states to the cane fields of São Paulo, where labor demands are high and they face many of the challenges that international labor migrants encounter, including discrimination, poor wages, and inhumane working conditions.
Brazilian prisons are typically crowded and poorly resourced, yet at the same time may be active places. Of particular interest to the sociology of prisons is institutional reliance on inmate collaboration and self-ordering, not only to maintain prison routines, but, in the most low-staffed prisons, security and prisoner conduct as well. This article explores the roles played by inmates in running one such penal institution, a men's police lockup in Rio de Janeiro. At the time of research the lockup had over 450 prisoners, but just five officers. Both on and off the wings inmates performed janitorial, clerical, and guard-like duties, mostly under the supervision not of officers but other prisoners. The lockup appeared to be operating under a relatively stable, if de facto and provisional order, premised on common needs and shared beliefs, and maintained by a hierarchy of prisoner as well as officer authority.
The expansion and intensification of agriculture is a major driver of deforestation in tropical forests and for global climate change. However, over the past decade Brazil has significantly reduced its deforestation rates while simultaneously increasing its agricultural production, particularly cattle and soy. While, the scholarly literature primarily attributes this success to environmental policy and global economic trends, recent ethnographic depictions of cattle ranchers and soy farmers offer deeper insight into how these political and economic processes are experienced on the ground. Examples demonstrate that policy and markets provide a framework for soy farming and ranching, but emerging forms of identity and new cultural values shape their practices. This article argues that to understand the full picture of why Brazil’s deforestation rates have dropped while the agricultural industry has flourished, the culture of producers must be present in the analysis.
Analytical Routes through Multiple Meanings
Translator : Jeffrey Hoff
In 2016, news circulated about the construction of a monument in the city of Imbituba in Santa Catarina, a state in southern Brazil. The monument is a large portrayal of Saint Paulina, whose official sanctuary is located in another city in the same
The study of mobility in Brazil remains a diverse field of inquiry, with (as yet) no unified research agenda. This article reviews recent scholarship, principally by Portuguese-speaking Brazilian academics, between 2010 and 2013. A broad range of topics exists, from urban planning, infrastructure, bicycling, walking, migration, and tourism (including for sex, for cosmetic surgery, and for slum visits). The article suggests that the range and work of current academics publishing in English-language journals is encouraging; however, steps still need to be taken to break down remaining language barriers between Portuguese and English scholarship.
Alcida Rita Ramos
What follows is the personal view of someone who has been conducting indigenous studies since the 1960s, and has, therefore, her own understanding of the field. My reading of ethnological production in Brazil will probably differ from that of my Brazilian colleagues, and will certainly be different from that of foreign ethnologists. However, being totally immersed in the ethnological community of the country, I could never pretend to pose as an impartial observer.