Conference Panels

CHALLENGES IN BRAZILIAN ANTHROPOLOGY: A GLOBAL VIEW

Convenor: Bela Feldman-Bianco, Universidade Estadial de Campinas (UNICAMP)
E-mail: bfb@uol.com.br

Panel Abstract

Anthropology in Brazil is undergoing many transformations. Concomitantly with its increasing expansion and consolidation as a field of study, ongoing processes and reconfigurations which have been propelled by accelerated social, political and technological changes have brought new dilemmas, new challenges and new perspectives to both anthropological research and the roles played by anthropologists in distinctive areas of specialization. We invite papers that aim at providing a global (and critical) overview of the multiple challenges faced by both anthropologists engaged with the more established studies of Indigenous and Afro-descendant populations in Brazil, as well as by those more directly involved with issues pertaining to contemporary globalization and global capitalism.

  • SESSION 1     Room: 161 ARTS     Wed 6/7/2011     Time: 11.00-12.30     Room Location Map
    • Paper 1: Mapping the field of Anthropology in Brazil: Predicaments, Challenges and Perspectives
      • Bela Feldman-Bianco, Universidade Estadial de Campinas (UNICAMP)
    • Paper 2: Social Anthropology with Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and Australia: a comparative approach.
      • Stephen Grant Baines, Universidade de Brasília
    • Paper 3: Indian rights and anthropological expertise in Brazil
      • João Pacheco de Oliveira, Museu Nacional/UFRJ
  • SESSION 2     Room: 161 ARTS     Wed 6/7/2011     Time: 13.30-15.00     Room Location Map
    • Paper 1: Social movements in the Amazon: New ethnicities and environmental consciousness
      • Alfredo Wagner Berno de Almeida, State University of Amazonas/Federal University of Amazonas
    • Paper 2: Development and environmental conflicts in Brazil: challenges for anthropology and anthropologists
      • Andréa Zhouri, Federal University of Minas Gerais and Raquel Oliveira
    • Paper 3: "Rodar": the movements of Brazilian soccer players abroad
      • Carmen Rial, Federal University of Santa Catarina
  • SESSION 3     Room: 161 ARTS     Wed 6/7/2011     Time: 15.30-17.00     Room Location Map
    • Paper 1: Negotiating tradition and nation: analyzing the East-Timorese state-formation from Brazil
      • Kelly Silva and Daniel Simião, University of Brasília
    • Paper 2: The different faces of the monster: anthropology and failed states
      • Omar Ribeiro Thomaz and Sebastião Nascimento, UNICAMP

    SESSION 1

    Chair: Bela Feldman-Bianco

    Paper 1: Mapping the field of Anthropology in Brazil: Predicaments, Challenges and Perspectives

    Bela Feldman-Bianco, Universidade Estadial de Campinas (UNICAMP)

    In this paper, I intend to present the main predicaments, challenges and perspectives prompted by the reconfigurations of the field of Anthropology in Brazil in face of ongoing processes of social change. These include, among others, the current scientific policies favoring the expansion of graduate programs in Anthropology and the emergence of new undergraduate courses in anthropology, museology and archaeology; the internationalization of field work; and the increasing demand for anthropologists in the labor market in contemporary globalization. Besides a strong impact of "audit culture" on teaching and research, there have been also changes in the role played by anthropologists regarding public policies including in their relations with the Brazilian state and society (NGOs, social movements and other institutional public and private institutional channel). In addition to the emerging re-appropriation of the four field models and the ongoing revision of the relations between Anthropology and the other areas constitutive of the social sciences and the humanities, the transformations of the conceptual and analytical corpus of the discipline itself have been further accompanied by changes in the relations with the subjects of anthropological research, by either their access to formal teaching or the crescent political agency that they have played in globalized sceneries.

    Paper 2: Social Anthropology with Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and Australia: a comparative approach.

    Stephen Grant Baines, Universidade de Brasília

    Starting from the notion of "Styles of Anthropology" used by Roberto Cardoso de Oliveira in his research team in the 1990s, which examined different "peripheral anthropologies", in countries where anthropology was implanted later, outside the central countries - USA, Great Britain and France - where it emerged and had consolidated as an academic discipline, this paper looks at the styles of anthropology with Indigenous peoples which have developed in these two ex-colonies of European countries. When anthropology was first established in Brazil and Australia it was primarily defined as the study of Indigenous peoples. With very different histories and cultures, the styles of anthropology within the context of two national states which expanded over Indigenous territories are examined, and the ways in which these histories and contexts reflect on what is being done today in field research with Indigenous peoples. Some of the perspectives which anthropologists have about their own research and the way they see their roles within the national state are also compared, looking at the tensions which emerge between working within an academic discipline that aims to be international and universal while the national contexts in which it is practised are very specific. The paper aims to stimulate further comparative reflections on anthropology with Indigenous peoples in Australia and Brazil.

    Paper 3: Indian rights and anthropological expertise in Brazil

    João Pacheco de Oliveira, Museu Nacional/UFRJ

    During the period spanning from the end of the 1980s until now, different sectors of the State began to turn increasingly to the work of anthropological expertise. This demand for collaboration arose out of a national conjuncture marked by efforts to secure juridical and institutional reform in Brazil. This demand for anthropologists' collaboration also became focused on the administrative context with the appointment of anthropologists to co-ordinate workgroups formed by the governmental agency (National Indian Foundation/Fundação Nacional do Índio-FUNAI) with the purpose of delimiting indigenous lands. As our discussion unfolds, it will become clear that the anthropologist is not confined to the roles and expectations typical to conventional research. In other words, anthropologists face the challenge of defining their own performance; one which meets the demands of the specific context of research (very different from ethnographic situations), but which equally safeguards the scientific quality of their work, perfecting new cognitive instruments and establishing more refined criteria for evaluation. My aim here is to draw a parallel between fieldwork in ordinary ethnographic situations and in situations of administrative and judicial inquiries. The relevance of a more general debate should not be limited to anthropology's less canonical output (such as applied or legal reports) but which should be extended to include ethnography itself and its products.

    Discussant: Reuter, Thomas, Monash University and WCAA

    SESSION 2

    Chair: Andrea Zhouri

    Paper 1: Social movements in the Amazon: New ethnicities and environmental consciousness

    Alfredo Wagner Berno de Almeida, State University of Amazonas/Federal University of Amazonas

    During the last decade, the emergence in the Amazon of new collective identities as social movements has brought multiple challenges to anthropological research. On the one hand, there is a mobilization of the so called "old" ethnic groups for territorial rights, some of them tracing their origins to immemorial times; and, on the other hand, there is the emergence of "new ethnicities", bringing together people who place emphasis on both their cultural identities and the preservation of the humid forests with the aim of negotiating with the state interests and actions concerning their territorial and environmental rights. "New" or "old", "permanent" or "contingent", this phenomenon called "ethnicity" has become object of a vast anthropological production that tend to group together different social agents, under a "traditional peoples and communities" category. The analytical instruments in play - such as the concepts of community, tradition, identity, culture and environment - are not only are frequently activated through politicians', journalists' and magistrates' discourse but also bring challenges to fieldworkers interested in understanding these new patterns of political relations.

    Paper 2: Development and environmental conflicts in Brazil: challenges for anthropology and anthropologists

    Andréa Zhouri, Federal University of Minas Gerais

    In the last three decades, since the democratization of the country and the rise of environmental concerns, Brazil has created a regulatory framework capable of dealing with environmental impacts in the face of its core developmental policies. An environmental governance package has been constructed, having as its major instrument the environmental licensing process. Nonetheless, such a process is based on an urban modern society planning perspective with little assessment of specific local ecological conditions and social organizations. Indeed, the process of globalization has resulted in an intensive exploitation of natural resources, which aggravates the use of marginal economic areas and the expansion of the economic frontiers through territories occupied by family agriculture, traditional peoples and ethnic minorities. Hence, one can observe the creation of conflict zones involving locals, State sectors and entrepreneurial groups. Within this context, anthropologists have increasingly been required to act as experts and mediators by different groups, including State institutions, private companies, as well as social movements. Based on ethnographical research about the environmental licensing processes of hydroelectric dams in Brazil, this paper focuses on the limits of anthropological knowledge, the contexts of its production and the role of anthropologists in political processes involving unequal networks of power.

    Paper 3: "Rodar": the movements of Brazilian soccer players abroad

    Carmen Rial, Federal University of Santa Catarina

    Among the 5 millions of Brazilians who currently live abroad, nearly 5 thousand play soccer, some of them at the world's top clubs. This paper makes use of an anthropological perspective to analyze the migration of Brazilian players whose careers have been successful, seeking to understand the characteristics of this particular global circulation of people and money, which has enormous impact on the mediascape (Appadurai). The constant exchange of employers (club or global club), countries and the large number of "repatriates", characterize this migratory movement as a circulation. It is what the players call "rotation", seen positively as an opportunity for experience. This circulation takes place in protected zones, where a banal nationalism (Billig) is constantly activated. Even after obtaining legal citizenship, they perceive themselves and continue to be seen as foreigners. Nationalization thus has a strategic purpose (Sassen). It is important to point out that, for this analysis, categories activated in studies of migration like "immigrant", "repatriates", "border", "nationalization", "documentation" were replaced by others, such as zones or bubbles and global-clubs, thus, enabling the conclusion that these soccer players cross geographic borders without entering the countries, because their borders are the clubs and not the countries. Also the challenges faced by research in a multi-sited internationalized fieldwork and by dialogue with "stars" (Morin) are discussed.

    Discussant: Reuter, Thomas, Monash University and WCAA

    SESSION 3

    Chair: Carmen Rial, UFSC

    Paper 1: Negotiating tradition and nation: analyzing the East-Timorese state-formation from Brazil

    Kelly Silva and Daniel Simião, University of Brasília

    The paper examines some of the processes involved in negotiating and creating "tradition" among different groups in urban spaces of Dili, East-Timor. Through discussing cases in which sites and forms of "tradition" are used to support images of the Nation - particularly cases related to the social spaces of marriage negotiations and forms of conflict resolutions - we bring to the fore the challenges of approaching those issues from the viewpoint of anthropologists who were trained in Brazil. From this positioning, we indicate the relevance of enlarging the scope of Anthropology in Brazil's usual intellectual interchange by including increasing dialogues with: a) the anthropology of colonialism and with global forms of governance; b) the ethnology of Eastern Indonesia and c) the history of Nation-State formation in Southeast Asia and Oceania. We approach such an enlargement as an important part of the reconfiguration of anthropological research and teaching agenda in Brazil, while concomitantly exploring the legacies that Brazilian anthropology itself brings for the construction of new ways of examining Southeast Asia issues, such as the discussions on Nation-State formation and cultural meanings for equality in highly unequal societies.

    Paper 2: The different faces of the monster: anthropology and failed states

    Omar Ribeiro Thomaz and Sebastião Nascimento, UNICAMP

    The deterioration of social and political conditions in a given society, leading to the emergence of so-called failed states, somehow has entered the realm of conventional wisdom among social scientists. For specific political spaces that usually fall under that label - particularly those located in the African continent or, in the Western hemisphere, cases such as Haiti -, the notion of a failed state is resorted to as some kind of self-explanatory category, not requiring further analytical or descriptive effort. Invariably, what is missing from the picture is either the history of these specific states or a study of the differentiated role played by political institutions with regard to specific groups living under the scope of those states. Resorting to ethnographic research carried out both in Mozambique and Haiti, I propose an approach to the state in these two political spaces based on autonomous historical processes and the contemporary dynamics of their public spheres and institutions. I intend to show that the mantra of the failed state is very narrow and limited by notions of state modeling that both lack in universality and are marked by the particularistic interests of specific subjects who are part of a large apparatus associated with the universe of international aid.

    Discussant: Minnegal, Monica, University of Melbourne