Accepted paper:

Anthropology and the State in Brazil: some remarks on a complex relation


Antonio Carlos De Souza Lima (Museu Nacional-UFRJ)

Paper short abstract:

The State as a theme has played a constitutive role for anthropology in Brazil. The discipline has long been engaged in studying social impacts of State policies and nation building. It is important to conduct a deep theoretical reflection on state formation processes which help to form us and which we help form in daily life and on a micro-scale.

Paper long abstract:

The State has been a constant presence in Anthropological investigation. Anthropologists working in different national contexts have developed research which seeks to reveal the “impacts” and “effects” of Nation-Sates government actions on social groups (which are anthropology's declared objects of scientific analysis). They have also developed studies which investigate the construction of nations and nationalisms. The anthropology of “complex societies” has often left unanalyzed, however, the day-to-day operation of power relations and strategies of struggle, the component parts of forms of domination that emanate from and flow through this hierarchic apparatus made up of circumscribed spaces and concentrated resources we call “the State”. In the present paper, I reflect upon the constitutive role this theme has played for anthropology in Brazil (although I will pay less attention to the “construction of the nation” side of things, as this has already been dealt with by several authors). I propose that Brazilian anthropology needs to advance beyond engaging with the populations it studies and looking at the historical process of nation formation. We need to conduct a deep theoretical reflection, in dialogue with the other social sciences and sustained by ethnographic study, of the formation of the apparatuses which form us and which we help form in daily life and on a micro-scale.

panel P145
Brazilian anthropology: present and future (ABA panel)