Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics

Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics

Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics

Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics

Excerpt

When I went to central Brazil in 1939, it was but one of several possible areas of the world that might have been selected for research among primitive peoples. For almost eighteen months I lived and studied among the Tapirapé Indians, an isolated tribe who still followed, in the main, their aboriginal way of life. They provided an excellent field of research for a social anthropologist, but living among them I learned little of modern Brazil. When I left Brazil in 1940, I knew that I would return. My casual acquaintance with the country during my passage from Rio de Janeiro through São Paulo and Goiás to and from the Tapirapé village convinced me that Brazil was one of the world's most exciting laboratories for research in social anthropology. Since that time I have devoted myself in one way or another to the study of modern Brazil.

In 1941 I returned to do research among the Tenetehara Indians, a tribe which was in close contact with rural Brazilians and which was being gradually incorporated into the nation. Then, in 1942, world events brought me directly into contact with the problems of modern Brazil. That year, as part of their common war effort, the Brazilian and United States governments established the cooperative public-health program which came to be known as SESP (Serviço Especial de Saúde Pública). SESP was first conceived as a wartime measure, and one of its principal programs was to provide medical protection to the producers of strategic raw materials--the rubber gatherers in the Amazon Valley, the migrants from the drought-stricken northeast who were moving into the Amazon to collect rubber, and the mica and quartz miners in the mountains of central Brazil. Since so many of these people lived in the backlands, a social anthropologist with experience and knowledge of these Brazilian hinterlands could be useful to the program. During the . . .

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