Ethnology Brazilian Style

Essay Excerpt

To write about the work of our colleagues and our own is never an easy task, not only because of the close involvement with the subject matter, but also because, in characterizing someone else's writings, there is always the risk of misunderstandings, distortions, omissions, and other injustices. 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. But, being totally immersed in the ethnological community of the country, I could never pretend to pose as an impartial observer.

The reason I propose this exercise is twofold; one is to present to a non-Brazilian audience some of the features of ethnographic work done in Brazil; the other is to address the question of the social responsibility of ethnographers in their actions and writings regarding the peoples they study. (Ramos, 452)

About the Author

Alcida RIta Ramos is a professor of anthropology at the University of Brasilia. She has defended indigenous peoples, particularly Yanomami, acting as expert witness to the Brazilian Attorney General's Office and as mediator between the Sanumá and emergency medical teams working to combat epidemic malaria. She is the author ofSanumá Memories: Yanomami Ethnography in Times of Crisis, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and two other books.

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