Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas

Ethnographic Contexts (Latin America) - 1st semester



Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas





Teacher in charge

João de Freitas Leal

Weekly hours


Teaching language



The main purpose of this curricular unit is to introduce the students to Brazil´s ethnographical reality and to the anthropological debates it has inspired. Starting from a general presentation of brazilian´s anthropology main lines, the curricular unit proposes a deeper focus on a set of major themes: discourses of national identity, afro-brazilian religions, race relations, indigenous ethnology and urban sociological and anthropological studies. Students are incited to combine their attention to theoretical debates and to the examination of particularly significant ethnographies.



Subject matter

- Brazil: an introduction.
- Brazilian anthropology: historical development and main areas of contemporary research.
- Discourses of national identity: from Gilberto Freyre to Roberto DaMatta. Brazilian national identity, portraits of the colonization and debates over modernity.
- Afro-brazilian religions. The africanist paradigm in Bastide´s work. Beyond the africanist paradigm: other perspectives on candomblé and umbanda.
- Race relations. The myth of \"racial democracy\". Debates and researches on \"brazilian racism\".
- Indigenous ethnology. Its main guidelines. The \"índios\" and \"civilization\": the contactualist paradigm and beyond.
- Portraits of urban Brazil. Between anthropology and urban sociology.


Bastide, Roger, 2005 [1958], O Candomblé da Bahia, São Paulo, Companhia das Letras.
DaMatta, Roberto, 1980, “Você Sabe Com Quem Está Falando? Um Ensaio sobre a Distinção entre Indivíduo e Pessoa no Brasil”, Carnavais,
Malandros e Heróis. Para uma Sociologia do Dilema Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, Zahar Editores, pp. 139-193.
Freyre, Gilberto, 1957 [1932], Casa Grande e Senzala, Lisboa, Livros do Brasil.
Holanda, Sérgio Buarque, 2005 [1936], Raízes do Brasil, São Paulo, Companhia das Letras.
Ribeiro, Darcy, 1996 [1995], O Povo Brasileiro. A Formação e o Sentido do Brasil, São Paulo, Companhia das Letras.
Skidmore, Thomas, 1989, Preto no Branco. Raça e Nacionalidade no Pensamento Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, Editora Paz e Terra.
Skidmore, Thomas, 1998, Uma História do Brasil, São Paulo, Editora Paz e Terra.
Viana, Hermano, 2004 [1995], O Mistério do Samba, Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Zahar Editores/ Editora da UFRJ.

Teaching method

Courses follow a theoretical-practical methodology. In each course, there is a first moment of presentation of key ideas by the teacher, with the help of a powerpoint show with selected quotations and images, in open interaction with the students through questions, comments and free interventions. In a second moment, which may cross the first presentation, students are invited to analyse in more detail, through a collective discussion, certain passages or other contents which permit to deepen the subjects previously exposed in a synthetic way; and also also make brief group exercises of analysis and interpretation. In some courses, a third moment is dedicated to debating.

Evaluation method

Evaluation is based on two written tests e and on brief exercises made in class, although students may choose as an alternative a single global written test.