IA Events

Seminar: Race, Religion and Culture in Brazilian Social Thought: Some Highlights

Publication date: Jul 28, 2014 12:04:47 PM

Start: Oct 30, 2014 6:00:00 PM
End: Oct 30, 2014 8:00:00 PM

Location: UCL-Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PN


Roberto Motta (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil) - Brazilian social thought (Pensamento Social Brasileiro, as the discipline is known in Brazil), has dealt, for the last 14 decades, with the study of Brazil’s historical and cultural specificity. In other words, why has Brazil not developed along lines similar to those which prevailed in Western Europe and North America?  Why are we not the United States? Racial explanations have been proposed at least since the end of the nineteenth century. Religious explanations had also been offered even earlier in the same century, in terms at times strikingly similar to some of Max Weber’s explanations in his thesis on the Protestant Ethic.  Such explanations are still very much present in recent and current Brazilian thought, albeit mainly in secularized versions. In contradistinction to the Westernizing paradigm, there is in Brazil the “Tropicalista” interpretation which simply denies the absolute validity of Western models of development.

Roberto Motta is Bachelor in Philosophy by Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, of his native city of Recife; he is also Master in Social Science by the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University, New York, after the defense of his thesis, in 1983, with the title Meat and Feast: The Xangô Cult of  Recife, Brazil. Dr Motta was a Researcher at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, and head of its Department of Anthropology from 1980 to 1988; Researcher at Centre d'Etudes de l'Actuel et du Quotidien de l’Université de Paris‑V (Sorbonne), late 1989 to early 1991; and Associate Professor, and subsequently Full Professor, 1992 to present, of the Social Sciences Department of  Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, having been several  times head of its graduate programme in Anthropology.

Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.