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Research Students - Social Anthropology  


Year of start: 2008
Subject: Social Anthropology

Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title

Invisibility as Ethics: Affect, Play and Intimacy in Maranhão, Northeast Brazil 


Allen Abramson


My work explores how low-income residents of the Brazilian state of Maranhão constitute affective relations with kin and kindred, as well as with otherworldly forces. Both men and women locally consider the expression of desire, rage, longing and other emotive dispositions as the provenance of autonomous agency. Persons however also stress the indispensability of self-restraint, ‘respect’ and deference in the maintenance of abiding social hierarchies. In the course of ordinary life, both these frameworks of action inform the public presentation of ethical personhood. Based on 20 months of fieldwork, my thesis focuses on the ways by which persons employ these mutually-exclusive modalities in the generation of intimacy within and across family houses

Research interests

  • Anthropology and history of Brazilian society
  • Anthropology of affect, intimacy and emotions
  • Anthropology of morality and ethics
  • Ethnographic theory of play and playfulness in everyday life
  • Chaos theory and its potentiality for social scientific research
  • Theoretical and methodological perspectives on kinship and relatedness

Academic Background/Education

MA in anthropology from Ben Gurion University, Israel (honours).

BA in geography and sociology from Haifa University, Israel (excellence).


Shapiro, M. 2011. Affective Knowledge as Anthropological Knowledge. Anthropology Matters Journal, 13 (1). (online).

Shapiro, M. 2011. Bumba Meu Boi: O Desejo e a Origem Mítica do Maranhão. In, da Cunha (Ed), O Boi Contou. Petrobras: São Paulo and São Luis. Pp. 27-34.


Overseas Research Student Scholarship (ORS) (2008-2011)

UCL Postgraduate School Fellowship (2011)

Wingate Foundation Fellowship (2011-12)

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