Cultural Incongruence of Democracy
Countries throughout the world are struggling to throw off their traditional forms of government and acquire the democratic way of life. For some, the idea of having the freedom to choose one’s destiny is something they never experienced. Free thought, free expression and free inquiry is something they never had the opportunity to enjoy. Having one’s life and activities dictated by a government that focuses on exploiting and plundering its people for the purpose of personal economic gain someday inevitably reaches a point of critical meltdown. People can take only so much before they strike back. The Foucauldian idea of the “contradictory complexity” of mankind makes it an outcome that all too often results in conflict and destruction. Then on the other hand, there are those that seek democracy solely for the purpose of enjoying the imagined benefits of capitalism that comes along with it. Most people throughout the world understand that one comes with the other – they are an inseparable pair. But many of the countries that seek democracy and capitalism do not understand them, or how they work, or even have the cultural background that can enable them to assimilate these concepts.
Perspectives in Anthropology welcomes you to explore our new Lecture Series where you can discover a wide range of topics, each with a unique perspective and interpretation. We hope that these lectures will reflect the values of good anthropological research and inspire your own critical thinking and imagination.
If you can’t view the lectures here on our website, you may still be able to watch some of them on our YouTube Channel. Simply go to our Lecture Series channel page and the video will be available for viewing. Please remember to subscribe to our channel.
We are also hosting conference lectures that will bring together scholars on specific themes. It is our hope to provide the work of prominent scholars who will contribute their knowledge and perspectives. Lively conversation, debate, and collaboration are the hallmarks of these events.
Unemployment and Poverty
Although there is considerable literature on conditions of unemployment and poverty in many modernized countries, there is a penuriously small amount on how these issues are addressed in developing countries. In Brazil, a good portion of the available literature is gathered by agencies such as the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (IBGE), Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), the Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (PNAD), Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade–Rio de Janeiro (IETS); also, UNESCO, the US State Department, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, and a bevy of research analysts. Overall, these studies dramatically point toward the need for Brazil to deal immediately and effectively with high incidences of unemployment, inequality in educational distribution, discrimination toward women in the labor force, and issues concerning the impact of employment upon family responsibilities.
There are many holidays celebrated in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. And on almost every occasion, you can see practitioners of Capoeira displaying their art somewhere during the festival. In Brazil, Capoeira is a very strong part of the history and culture of the people. Although it was once outlawed as a form of illegal marital arts, it later became sanctioned and thrives throughout many parts of Brazil. As an art form, it has spread to many countries outside of Brazil and even has practitioners in the US and Europe. But what really is Capoeira and where did it come from? This article is dedicated to explaining the unique history of an amalgamated form of marital arts called Capoeira.
Capoeira: phonetic pronunciation [kap-u-air-ra) is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by its quick and complex moves, using mainly speed, power, and leverage for a wide variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques. At the heart of Capoeira is the ginga – that is, the back-and-forth, foot-to-foot movement that serves as the starting point for many of the moves in Capoeria. Capoeira used in actual self-defense situations incorporates many sweeps and low moves, however in demonstrations of the art there is more of an emphasis on high moves, acrobatics, cartwheels for evasion, and flips or other exotic techniques when performing or entertaining for an audience. Continue reading
Chapter One – The Conspiracy
This review is organized as a history of the diverse elements of scholarship by which the field of African Diaspora studies has been developed. It presents research findings of selected studies emerging from distinct interests and traditions of African Diasporic communities. The history examined here emphasizes the scholarship of diasporic researchers that, until recently, had little opportunity to appear within the scope of the longer and broader development of diasporan studies. It is well known that diasporic studies developed from the history of African-American and other diasporic scholarship, however, much of it within the historical context of the English language; rarely incorporating the social science, humanistic or activist understandings of scholarship in the Portuguese language. This review attempts to establish a new compatibility with diasporan intellectual traditions by presenting a foray into the knowledge of the diasporan experience from the Lusophone perspective.
Photo: Courtesy of Gibby Zobel
Recently, I witnessed for the second time a demonstration by the Landless Worker’s Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra, or MST). As I watched and filmed the demonstration, I could not help wondering about the complex play of relations that unite and oppose people that still exist in Brazil left over from its period of colonial rule. I wondered about the differences between those people that continue to hold on to sovereignty and rule and those fighting to attain some simulacrum of decent living conditions. Clearly, these differences are born of colonial history – that is, the history of aristocrats keeping puppet administrators in their pay, creating a native bourgeoisie, and fashioning classes of peoples beaten down, undernourished, sick and terrified for the sole purpose of exploitation and profit-taking.
It is the intention of the editor to present a series of texts written by some of the most distinguished African and Brazilian scholars, intellectuals, politicians, artists, and activists involved in the movement to re-construct the interrelationship of Brazil with Africa and other countries in the Diaspora. The main objective of this series is to provide an opportunity for those that do not speak the Brazilian Portuguese language or do not have the benefit of a translation of these texts to become aware of and, hopefully, engaged in this process. Continue reading
The annual Odunde Street Festival, held every second Sunday in June, brings a genuine taste of Africa to South Street, one of Philadelphia’s oldest, historically African-American neighborhoods. The festival, initiated in 1975 by Lois Fernandez and Ruth Arthur, has gained a national reputation as one of Philadelphia’s brightest cultural jewels. Odunde celebrates the coming of another year for African-Americans and Africanized people around the world. It was during a pilgrimage to Nigeria in 1972 that Fernandez first imagined the festival as Philadelphia’s celebration of African culture. Continue reading
Anyone that has traveled to Brazil can not help but be impressed with the warm, light- hearted, friendly spirit of Brazilians. They are a kind, helpful, joyous, love to eat, drink and be happy society of people. But lurking deep beneath the surface of their smiling faces is a frustration and discontent that threatens the foundations of their democratic system and severely reduces their trust of politicians. Corruption – that ubiquitous, pervasive term that seems to permeate and oppress the lives of Brazilians and many other Latin Americans. Continue reading
Anyone who has conducted ethnographic research understands the importance of the participant-observer methodology. When gathering information, it is essential to have an informant that is able to assist in obtaining accurate, first-hand information in order to analyze cultural values, ideas, forms and processes. Continue reading
One Sunday in February, 2008 when my wife and I were living in the bairro of Itapúa which is situated near the airport of Salvador, I was home alone. My wife left out early that day to visit with friends. It was a normal Sunday like so many other Sundays, bright sunshine, blues skies, birds singing in the distance, quiet and peaceful. I received a telephone call from a friend that asked if I would like to attend a festival at the house of his sister. At the time, I did not know that my friend’s sister was a devout follower of Candomblé and thought that it was simply a festival like other festivals that occur in Brazil at this time of the year. Continue reading
This year heralds two important political elections in both the United States and Brazil. Both countries pride themselves on conducting elections according to the democratic political process. But in hindsight, just what is the significance of the right to vote in a political election? Continue reading
Contemporary American religious life is experiencing a very profound crisis. On one hand, this crisis is characterized by a lack of clarity in vision, deficiency in discernment, and a tendency to fall back on personalistic and individualistic interpretations of moral law. On the other hand, politically and culturally radical forces attempt to eliminate spiritual depth by replacing it with concepts of consumerism, careerism, narcissism, and a new form of critical consciousness that undermines prevailing modes of social and moral ideal. Continue reading