National Academies Press: OpenBook

Field Guide to Brazil (1960)

Chapter: Professional Relationships

« Previous: Preparations for the Field
Suggested Citation:"Professional Relationships." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 35
Suggested Citation:"Professional Relationships." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 36
Suggested Citation:"Professional Relationships." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"Professional Relationships." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"Professional Relationships." National Research Council. 1960. Field Guide to Brazil. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18401.
Page 39

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VII. PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS The procedure for the establishment of professional relations with Brazilian social scientists and government officials will not be the same for everyone intending to go to Brazil. The nature of the work to be done will determine to a great extent the exact paths one must fol- low—and the details must be worked out for particular projects. However, a few considerations can be mentioned here. First of all is deciding on the port of entry. Rio de Janeiro is still the "front door," and it is worth any extra expense and time involved to enter Brazil through Rio. Even if the ultimate destination is Manaus on the upper Amazon, it pays in many ways to go all the way south to Rio, and, with official blessings, to return north later. While in Rio, it should be possible to make the rounds of such agencies as CAPES, the Centro Latino-Americano de Pesquisas em CieSicias Socials, the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Educacionais, and museums. With the aid of colleagues in these agencies, courtesy calls can be made on the various ministries and other departments whose services and duties may have some bearing on the field work to be done. Exchange of calling cards and letters of introduction, and the acquisition of letters of introduction to key persons in the state and rural areas, are of great benefit. Fulbright fellows are expected to enter at Rio and are usually met at the plane by a representative of the Commission. Those who are not on Fulbright appointments will do well to visit the Fulbright office and locate other Americans under the program who may be working or teaching in the area to which they are going. In Rio the research worker can start getting accustomed to shak- ing hands innumerable times with both men and women each time he meets them and leaves them, as well as learning to use the first name of the person to whom he is talking, preceeded by the title Dr. , Prof. , or Sr. The stranger also learns to introduce himself by saying his name out loud at the moment of first meeting, and in addition exchang- ing calling cards. 35

In the case of a field project among Brazilian Indians, careful workis necessary in Rio. This should have been started by letter before the research worker left the U.S. Arrangements for transporta- tion and supply lines are made here. It should be remembered that the few Indians left in Brazil constitute an emotional subject for many Bra- zilian anthropologists and each one has his opinion about how the Indians should be treated. The situation is further complicated by a certain amount of competition between the Church and Indian Bureau in regard to the care of Indians. Also while in Rio the research worker should be able to begin to feel the currents which may be at cross-purposes within the profes- sional community. After a fairly thorough visit in Rio, the field worker can proceed to the capital of the state in which he intends to carry out his work. Armed with the information gathered in Rio, letters of introduction, and hotel reservations, he is ready to undertake the first part of the actual field project, which is laying the groundwork on the local scene. As in Rio, courtesy visits are necessary in the state capitals. After making contact with the professional colleagues located in the city, the research worker should visit the Rector of the University, the Di- rector of the Faculty of Philosophy, and certain governmental officials such as the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health. The local anthropologist is an essential link in the success of any field-work project. It is safe to say there is an anthropologist in every port or capital city. Before leaving the U.S. it is best to have started contact with him by letter. If American colleagues returned recently from Brazil cannot indicate the name of the required person, the re- search worker should consult the International Dictionary of Anthro- pological Institutions published by the Wenner-Gren Foundation in 1957. The new journal, Current Anthropology, also lists most of the Brazilian social scientists. A Brazilian directory, Instituiqo'es de Pesquisa pub- lished in 1957 by CAPES lists the names, addresses, affiliations and specialties of practically all the scientists throughout Brazil in any field. Letters asking for more up-to-date information can be addressed to the CAPES organization, since it is making considerable effort to keep new and accurate information on file. A warm welcome is usually extended to the visiting anthropologist, who will receive valuable orientation and practical aid from this source. Having a colleague put one in touch with the proper local authorities, archives, public and private libraries, mapping agencies, and key people who can give further aid and information, such as introductions 36

to the prefeitos of municipios in which the field work may actually be carried out, simplifies greatly the initial tasks. It may be possible to enlist the active collaboration of the local anthropologist in the field work. This has many advantages for both sides, and success seems to depend more upon the personalities in- volved than any theoretical or methodological orientations. In any event the field worker will be dependent to a great extent on the local anthropologist. It may seem that a local anthropologist has considerable free time, but this can be deceiving. With a few exceptions, mainly in Rio and Sao Paulo, the Brazilian social scientist is not teaching on a full- time basis and the low salary which accompanies part-time academic work must be supplemented by income from other occupations. Some individuals have two or three jobs simultaneously, and therefore are not as free as their easy-going manner may indicate. The Brazilian social scientist usually has family responsibilities which are augmented by the network of extended family relationships which occupy most of the free time he has. This frequently makes it necessary to confine professional relationships to the working day only. Usually some attempt will be made to invite the visitor to the Brazilian's home for presentation to his immediate family. This is a necessary oc- currence, and yet one which can be highly unsatisfactory. If the Bra- zilian and his family do not speak English, and the visitor and his family (if present) do not speak Portuguese, such a gathering can be quite pain- ful for all concerned. As a result one is frequently left on his own for evenings and weekends. On the other hand, if the initial social gather- ing is a success and communication is established, the visitor will have many doors opened for him socially as well as professionally. In the larger cities there tend to be cliques whose lines run all the way back to Rio. One type is faithful to a former mentor, or to a theoretical or a national orientation, while another holds its own views. It is possible for the visitor to walk between these groups, visiting and being friends with both sides. Frequently the visitor is asked to teach a class or two, or to give an evening lecture. These are good opportunities to look over the stu- dents, especially when looking for an assistant. The matter can be broached delicately, making sure not to try to hire away someone's favorite pupil who is already at work for his teacher. The search for a suitable community is complicated by a number of factors, such as lack of adequate public transportation throughout the 37

interior, great distances involved, lack of rapid communications, and in many instances lack of hotels or even pensSes in the small towns of the interior. For these and other reasons, the research worker must have some kind of personal transportation. He may have brought his own vehicle. Or he may have to depend on local state authorities to help him by allowing him to go into the field with school inspectors, malaria service personnel, and others who travel considerably using official transportation. These are matters which the research worker must work out for himself in collaboration with the local Brazilian anthropologist. Once the community is chosen and housing arrangements are made, there remains the question of letters of introduction to the prefeito, or the leading citizen, to the municipal statistics agent, and to the local school principal. If the project involves a cattle ranch study or a large plantation study, it becomes necessary to get an introduction to the landowner. In many instances the research worker will have to stay in the "Big House," the guest house, or the administrator's house as a guest while• carrying out his study. This may impose some limitations on his free- dom as well as raising questions of propriety, payment, and social ob- ligations . Once in the field, the research worker is on his own, responsible for himself and for any assistants he has taken with him. However, if he has done the proper groundwork in Rio, in the state capital, and in the choosing of the community, he should experience no difficulty as far as professional relations are concerned. Relations with the com- munity are something quite different and will be treated below. One other aspect of professional relations remains to be discussed. In recent years less individual research has been carried out in Brazil by American anthropologists and sociologists. Rather the tendency has been for North American social scientists to go to Brazil in the capacity of advisers or technicians to the various applied science organizations, such as CBPE and el Centro Latino Americano. This position calls for quite different kinds of professional relations. The individual undertaking this sort of activity will find that there is little or no opportunity for individual research. Rather, he is ex- pected to assist in the carrying out of research projects already planned by others and which may be well under way when he arrives on the scene. A current of nationalism causes many of the younger Brazilian social scientists to feel that they no longer need the tutelage of foreign 38

experts in the social sciences, particularly in the social sciences as the cornerstones in the building of a modern Brazil. This tendency places the expert in a rather delicate position; nevertheless, he can make a contribution. The importance of handling Portuguese competently is even greater in this situation than in one where the research worker is carrying out his own project. He may find that something is expected of him which is quite outside his field of competence, or else, as has happened, which he feels is a useless research plan which will add nothing to the problem at hand. Before accepting such a commission, it is well to have it completely understood on both sides what the expert is to do. It may be better not to go than to spend a year of almost complete frus- tration as far as the work is concerned. At the same time, some of the best insights and understanding of contemporary Brazilian culture are coming out of this type of association, particularly in the field of national character studies , since the range of research projects and sites is far larger and more organized than any individual study could be, due to the resources behind it. A third area in which the social scientist is participating, is that of teaching in various universities, under the Fulbright Act. In dis- tinction to a decade or more ago, the visiting professor does not occupy a chair, but rather is attached to the catedratico who does occupy it. Rather than designing his own course, he must teach what is already on the agenda of the department. If the professor cannot speak Portu- guese his teaching will suffer, and furthermore, his relations with the catedratico and the rest of the staff of the faculty will be almost non- existent. He will be shown his classroom, told the hours at which he is to meet the class. He will be isolated from the rest of the activities in the faculty. Relations with students are also limited by lack of com- munication, or are restricted to banalities. 39

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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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