Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology

By Sally Cole | Go to book overview

Series Editors' Introduction

F T O L I V E in interesting times is a curse, it was one that beset Ruth Landes (née Schlossberg). As an unconventional partici- I p a n t observer of Afro-Brazilian culture and a Jew in an increasingly Nazi-sympathizing Brazil during the 1930s, she made the times in that place still more interesting. In many ways her stay in Brazil before World War II resembled that of the Ingrid Bergman character during the war in Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Notorious. Landes was branded as "notorious” for nonmarital sexual relations (and for "betraying” her class and race in associating with the black "lower orders”). There were spies and wild accusations of spying (these led to Landes's expulsion from Brazil). She had a suave and romantic champion (a darker Cary Grant type), and her enemies tended to be connected to local Nazis and Nazi sympathizers.

After the very interesting time in Brazil Landes had a long after- life as a marginal anthropologist, not securing a stable position until 1965, three full decades after earning her Ph.D. from Columbia University, and then at what she considered a Canadian backwater (McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario). As Sally Cole's perceptive and massively researched biography shows, being a woman in a man's world was less of a problem for Landes than underestimating the will to dominance of those whom she supposed were on the same side as she, other inter—World War students of Franz Boas.

Not just Landes's field results but also her living among her subjects and doing participant observation in Afro-Brazilian Bahia challenged the patronizing Brazilian authority on "Negroes, ” Artur Ramos, who never got his hands dirty visiting the slums. Ramos was allied with American anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits, who was claiming for himself paramount authority for identifying what was African in the cultures of "the new World Negro” and

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Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Ruth Landes - A Life in Anthropology *
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations *
  • Series Editors' Introduction *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Part One - Beginnings *
  • Chapter One - Immigrant Daughter *
  • Chapter Two - New Woman *
  • Chapter Three - Student at Columbia *
  • Part Two - Apprenticeship in Native American Worlds *
  • Prologue *
  • Chapter Four - Maggie Wilson and Ojibwa Women's Stories *
  • Chapter Five - Lusty Shamans in the Midwest *
  • Part Three - She-Bull in Brazil's China Closet *
  • Prologue *
  • Chapter Six - Fieldwork in Brazil *
  • Chapter Seven - Writing Afro-Brazilian Culture in New York *
  • Chapter Eight - The Early Ethnography of Race and Gender *
  • Conclusion - Life and Career *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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