National Academies Press: OpenBook

Field Guide to Brazil (1960)

Chapter: Preparations for the Field

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Suggested Citation:"Preparations for the Field." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
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Suggested Citation:"Preparations for the Field." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Preparations for the Field." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Preparations for the Field." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 34

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VI. PREPARATIONS FOR THE FIELD One of the basic preparations for the field is the mastery of the Portuguese language. A knowledge of Spanish will aid in learning Por- tuguese, otherwise the two languages are quite distinct. A knowledge of Portuguese is essential for field research, and for teaching. Al- though Brazilian students must study English in secondary school, few of them become sufficiently proficient to understand lectures in English. Preparation for the study of Brazilian Indians requires a mastery of Portuguese since the interpreter normally will speak.only the native language and Portuguese, and the field worker will have to be able to work with the interpreter in Portuguese. Translators are difficult to find, even in the large cities. One procedure which has been used a great deal in teaching is for the lec- turer to write out the entire lecture and have it mimeographed for dis- tribution at the time of class. In this way students can at least follow what is going on. Even this procedure is unsatisfactory, particularly if the lecturer is giving several courses. There often is not enough time to write out each lecture completely and have it mimeographed. For active field research it is necessary that the anthropologist be able to converse in Portuguese. Most informants are patient with the struggling linguistic apprentice, but they usually have little or no patience with one who speaks no Portuguese at all. Reading in Portuguese is also essential—not only in order to read newspapers (although in Rio and Sao Paulo one can get a small, daily English language newspaper), but also in order to learn what has been written by Brazilians about themselves. Some of the better known works, such as Casa Grande e Senzala (The Masters and the Slaves) and Os SertSes (Rebellion in the Backlands), have been translated into English, but the are few in comparison with those written only in Portuguese. An effort should be made to speak English clearly, so that in situations where one's Portuguese falters, one can go on in English and a certain percentage of Brazilians will understand. The research worker's name should be especially well pronounced. Calling cards are an essential item and considerable rapport is gained through the exchange of these cards. 31

Before leaving the U.S. , the anthropologist or other social scien- tist should also familiarize himself with U.S. collections of Brazilian writings in his field. The best library is probably the Library of Con- gress, but also Columbia University, the University of Florida, New York University, Vanderbilt, Stanford, and the University of Texas are good. The library at the University of Wisconsin is not as yet satis- factory, since the program there is relatively recent. Each year a number of Brazilian professors and students come to the U.S. , to teach, to study, or to travel. It is wise for one to make contact with some of these people before going to Brazil. Some of them come by means of the Fulbright Program, others through the Inter- national Institute of Education, still others through the U.S. Department of State, by means of Foundation grants, or under the auspices of Prot- estant church groups. These individuals can often be of great assistance by giving introductions to their families in Brazil and also to academic, professional and governmental colleagues. One of the first ways to break into a Brazilian circle is by acting as a portador—that is, by taking some small object in one's luggage and delivering it to the person's family. It is also worthwhile to seek information from North American students who have recently returned from Brazil. They can give help- ful information about the currency exchange situation, which fluctuates rapidly, and about current customs regulations. Each visitor to Brazil must have a visa, which can be procured after the U.S. passport has been issued. It can be obtained at any of the Brazilian Consulates located in the major U.S. port cities or at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington. These are formalities which must be complied with. Aside from health and character references the visitor must also establish proof of financial support while in Brazil. Under the Fulbright program this is done automatically. An individual going with a Foundation grant must show that the grant is sufficient for the length of time he intends to remain. It is best to ask for a special visa, which allows a longer stay in Brazil than does the usual tourist or businessman's visa. Usually satis- factory arrangements as to the length of time in Brazil can be worked out easily. Upon arrival in Brazil for a prolonged stay the visitor must regis- ter with the Se_cj|£ta2ja_djL_Se_gjir^jic_a_^ublica, giving name, age, sex and occupation, plus date of arrival, flight number, etc. The airlines furnish a document stating that one actually arrived on the flight in- dicated. The police will issue a carteira de identidade. This identity 32

card is used for all Brazilians and non-Brazilians and should be carried at all times. If the research worker moves about the country, staying periods of months or more in each place, he must take his identity card to the local police and register with them. This card is necessary in order to obtain a driver's license, to register an automobile, and for banking purposes. The nature of the field trip and the length of time one expects to remain in the field will determine the amount of luggage and the type of equipment to be taken. Customs restrictions are severe; further- more they change rapidly in response to Brazil's efforts to cut down on imports in its battle against loss of Brazilian currency. It is im- portant to find out from the nearest consulate or the Embassy exactly what one has the right to take into Brazil duty-free, since in many in- stances duty amounts to 100 per cent of the value of the object. Duty on automobiles, for instance, is very high. The same is true of re- cording and photographic equipment. It is easier by far to take in accompanied baggage—that is, bag- gage which goes along with you on the plane or boat. In this instance you can take it through customs yourself. Unaccompanied baggage is different. If you go by plane and send baggage by ship, be sure on ar- rival to get a statement from the airline indicating when you arrived and the quantity of baggage you brought with you on the plane. In order to get unaccompanied baggage through customs, it is best to hire the services of a despachante (a forwarding agent) who is equipped to deal with the formidable barriers of the customs people. His services will cost some money, but are worth what they cost. Under normal circumstances (excluding the question of autos) most of what a research worker takes in with him is duty-free provid- ing it is part of the original shipment. Anything else sent to Brazil afterwards will be subject to duty. This includes films, tapes, and so on, so it is wise to take a sufficient supply from the start. Kodachrome film is not developed in Brazil, but must be sent either to the U.S. or Europe. The processed slides return to Brazil duty-free. However, there is considerable risk of losing one's slides. If it is necessary to see colored slides, or colored motion picture film while still in the field, it is better not to use Kodachrome. Ektachrome, Ansco, Fer- raniacolor, as well as black and white can be adequately developed, printed, and enlargements made in any of the principal cities. One other formality having to do with the mechanics of entering Brazil and settling there, at least if the research worker is going to remain in one of the large cities, is going to the tabeliSo, the Brazilian counterpart of our notary public. However, the system is somewhat 33

different there. One goes to the tabeliao and fills out signature cards. These cards are put on file in the tabeliao's office. There is no charge for this service. Later, if the researcher is to make any contractual agreements, the copy of the contract with the signatures of both parties is sent to the indicated tabeliao for comparison confirmation of the signatures. This is necessary in renting a house or signing any official documents. A fee is charged for this confirmation. To drive an automobile in Brazil, a Brazilian vehicle operator's license is required. Since the U.S. does not participate in an inter- national agreement honoring licenses of other countries, it is necessary for a U.S. citizen to take a vision test, a health examination, a written test, and reading and driving tests in order to acquire a license. Ex- cept in cases of governmental personnel, to whom courtesy is extended in this matter, one must know sufficient Portuguese. In some areas, operators' licenses are examined at roadblocks. Automobiles must be registered. To register a car, it is best to use the services of a des- pachante, for considerable red tape is involved. Before taking a car from the U.S. , it is imperative to find out whether it must be brought back from Brazil, or under exactly what circumstances it can be sold there. In Brazil, the school year is reversed. The academic year is divided into two semesters—the first starts the first of March and runs until the end of June. The second semester starts the end of August and runs until the end of November. Therefore there are two vacation periods; the month of July, and the months of December, January and February. If the scientist has hopes of making contact with Brazilians in his field it is well to do so first by letter, making sure that the Bra- zilian is not away from home—on vacation, at meetings, or in the field. July is a particularly active month for professional meetings. The four vacation months are good months in which to find field as- sistants. It is better to arrange this beforehand by writing to the in- stitution with which one expects to have the most contact. 34

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This guide to field research in Brazil is one of a series being issued under the auspices of the Committee on International Anthropology, which was established in 1957 by the Division of Anthropology and Psychology of the National Academy of Sciences — National Research Council. The proposal that such field guides be prepared came from a conference of anthropologists held at Columbia University in December, 1956. The Committee has treated the project as an experimental one, recognizing that the audiences to be addressed are rather diverse, e.g., the research worker with a project and area in hand, graduate training seminars, the social scientist wanting to make professional contacts, and that the materials would have to be stated mostly in general terms.

The purpose of Field Guide to Brazil is to provide information which the research worker, entering an area for the first time, should have in order to plan his trip get clearances from governments, deal with interested scientific institutions and scholars, comport himself properly in relations with local leaders, and establish generally a favorable working status for himself prior to the point where he applies his professional techniques to the problem in hand.

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