Brazilian Archaeology from a Brazilian Perspective

By Barreto, Cristiana | Antiquity, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Brazilian Archaeology from a Brazilian Perspective


Barreto, Cristiana, Antiquity


Archaeology in Brazil shares many empirical similarities with Latin American and North American research but, as a social science, it has remained isolated from mainstream theoretical and methodological advances. The large size of the country, the lack of resources and government support, the difficulties of working in tropical environments, the lack of monumental architecture, and Brazil's being neither a Spanish- nor an English-speaking country have all been thought of as shaping Brazilian archaeology and its failure to integrate into a larger, Latin American or international context.

Foreign archaeology journals traditionally published little on Brazilian archaeology, while recent concerns about the antiquity of a few sites or controversies about cultural development in the Amazon among North American scholars have overshadowed other research in Brazil.

This limited knowledge of Brazilian archaeology confirms the North American misperception that equates Brazil's vast territory with the Amazon basin, and its archaeology with the study of past populations in tropical forests. On the contrary, the Amazon basin corresponds to only one-third of the country and is not all covered with tropical forest. Furthermore, most archaeological research done by Brazilians is outside Amazonia, mainly because it remains the country's least developed region. To this day, the most intensely researched areas are the southeastern coast, the southeast and the south in general (from Rio de Janeiro to Rio Grande do Sul states), and central Brazil (especially Minas Gerais and Goias states), where chronological sequences and geographic distribution of cultural complexes are better understood.

A Brazilian archaeology exists, not because of its geographic boundaries nor because it is done by Brazilians, but because its institutions and professional community share a long history of theoretical handicap and misplaced foreign influences (Schwartz 1992).

Today, the institutional settings for archaeology in Brazil attest to a growing and active community of archaeologists working throughout its vast territory. Twenty institutions (mostly universities and museums) distributed across the country conduct regular archaeological research in virtually every state (Carvalho 1991; Scatamacchia 1995). The SAB (Society for Brazilian Archaeology) has more than 150 members with graduate degrees and hundreds of students involved in archaeological research. Four universities in Brazil offer master's or doctorate degrees in archaeology. The new Interdisciplinary Forum for the Advancement of Archaeology promotes courses and seminars in diverse topics, concerning both academic programmes and government policies. Five specialized journals publish the works of both Brazilian and foreign archaeologists: Revista de Arqueologia (SAB's peer-reviewed journal), Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (Universidade de Sao Paulo), Pesquisas, Serie Antropologia (Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sines, RS), Clio (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco) and Revista do Museu de Historia Natural (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais).

These numbers are high for a third-world country in which archaeology remains at the bottom of government and community cultural priorities. Unlike in many Latin American countries, archaeology in Brazil is seen neither as a touristic resource nor as a means by which its small Native American population affirms ethnic identity. Yet Brazilian archaeologists have created the institutional conditions necessary to develop research and publish their results.

Unfortunately, much research fails to go beyond description and documentation; few problem-oriented research projects are carried out. Research normally excavates and describes a single site without reference to its larger context, or uses area surveys to classify sites into 'traditions' and 'phases', categories of uncertain socio-cultural meaning.

Why is Brazilian archaeology so marginalized? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brazilian Archaeology from a Brazilian Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.