Tag: Brazil

Between the Bitterness of Anonymity and Ethics is Racism: Reflections for Anthropological Research on Science in the ‘Backyard’

This essay is one of the results of a roda de conversa (a conversation circle) that took place at the University of Brasilia, Brazil, in December 2023. Professor Soraya Fleischer had the idea and invited her advisees: two men and three women. Since all of us were, in different ways, doing research with researchers that were also working at the University of Brasilia, the roda de conversa had as a guiding theme the following question: what is it like to conduct research with interlocutors who share the same “institutional house”—who work in the same “backyard”? (read more...)

Setting Traps: For an Insurgent and Joyful Science

While visiting the exhibition by the artist Xadalu Tupã Jekupé at the Museum of Indigenous Cultures in São Paulo, one of the works caught my attention. It was a monitor on the floor. On the screen was a modification of the game Free Fire, where it was possible to follow a virtual killing taking place from the point of view of an indigenous character wearing a headdress. For a while I couldn’t look away. I remembered a conversation I had with Anthony, a Guaraní-Mbyá professor that works with the youth of his territory. At the time I was also a teacher, working with marginalized youth. I remember Anthony’s distressed words—he was concerned about the time and attention young people were putting into games like Free Fire, creating a situation very similar to the one I lived when I worked with teenagers in the outskirts of São Paulo. (read more...)

Making Forecasts Work: The Evolution of Seasonal Forecasting by Funceme in Ceará, Northeast Brazil

Every January, government officials, urban dwellers, and rural families across the state of Ceará, Northeast Brazil anxiously await the rainy season forecasts from Funceme, the Research Institute for Meteorology and Water Resources of Ceará. Yet throughout the state, many also proclaim that Funceme’s forecasts are “wrong,” that the forecasts do not work. (read more...)

Alliances and Institutional Partnerships for an Engaged Anthropology of Science and Technology

Conceptual transformations and emerging thematic agendas in the anthropology of science and technology become clearly visible in STS conferences. Paying particular attention to conferences that take place in the global South has the potential to open up an understanding of post-colonial scientific endeavors within our own field of expertise (Kervran, Kleiche-Dray & Quet, 2018;  Anderson, 2017; Law & Lin, 2017). (read more...)

Fetishes or Cyborgs? Religion as technology in the Afro-Atlantic space

(Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of the Thematic Series Data Swarms Revisited) Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé, Umbanda or Xangô, are a cluster of religious practices that originated mostly in West Africa, especially in Yorubaland (Nigeria and Benin), but also in Congo and Angola. Similar to other Afro-diasporic religions (i.e. Vodou in Haity and Santeria in Cuba), Candomblé shares many elements with West African traditional religious practices, like the names and characteristics of their deities (called orixás in Brazilian Portuguese and òrìṣà in Yoruba). These deities embody elements of the natural landscape and atmospheric phenomena that are regarded as personas with their own material and spiritual agency. However, in the whole Afro-Atlantic space the most important common trait is the presence fabricated objects. After a ritual procedure they become the bodies and the material manifestation of the deities themselves. These objects, often referred to as “fetishes,” represent the point of mediation between the material and the spiritual world (Meyer 2012: 15). Indeed, Western conception of materiality is often charged with moral implications, opposed to the pure and transcendent qualities of the spirit (Espírito Santo 2010). Conversely, in Afro-Atlantic religions, objects, elements and atmospheric phenomena are considered to be alive or to have a certain individuality, will or personality, in a way that the scientific Western thought would consider unacceptable. (read more...)

The Work it Takes to Stop Working: Productivity in Labs and Sugarcane

In spring of 2020, thousands of scientific labs across several continents shut down. What was deemed “non-essential” research was ramped down and/or paused in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and in some cases direct resources to Covid-19 research instead. Speaking with scientist friends and interlocutors in both Brazil, where I was carrying out research, and the US, where I’m from and have worked in labs myself, there was much discussion about what work to do in the meantime to continue progressing theses, dissertations, and research projects—in other words, to maintain productivity. On Twitter, numerous threads under the hashtag #phdlife offered advice and encouragement to “scientists without a lab,” as one graphic put it: (read more...)

The Vector, the Viruses, and the “Healthy World”: Placing Aedes aegypti in Brazil

Mosquito: the “most dangerous animal in the world,” human’s “deadliest predator.” This insect is often described as the most probable target for gene-editing technologies that have the potential to eliminate the unwanted. Mosquitoes are usually presented as the number one enemy of humankind, a globally hated pest: the most killable of all beings. (read more...)

When Sex Becomes a Matter of the State: Peciagraphy as a Qualitative Method for Examining Legal Cases

For the past ten years, I have been conducting ethnographic research on the Federal Supreme Court’s (STF) decisions on sexual identities in the Brazilian legal system. Despite the variety within this realm, I have always had the same guiding question: how do the STF and social movements perform sex as a matter of the state? (read more...)