HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article (in Portuguese) dedicated to a legendary figure in the history of Brazilian anthropology as the first woman who directed the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro.

Domingues, Heloisa Maria Bertol, 2024. “Da arqueologia à etnografia, da museologia ao ativismo: trajetórias cruzadas de Heloisa Alberto Torres e da antropologia brasileira,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris. 

Brazilian anthropologist Heloisa Alberto Torres (1895–1977) played a decisive role in the introduction of cultural anthropology in Brazil. In research, university courses or as director of the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, where she remained for 17 years, Heloisa Alberto Torres favored studies that highlighted the cultural diversity of the country’s populations, both ancient and contemporary. Not only did she produce compelling scientific work, but she also encouraged the collection of material and immaterial objects with the aim of preserving and learning about cultures. In this beautifully illustrated article, H. Domingues thoroughly analyzes her work and concludes that dona Heloisa – as she was courteously called – also took an incisive political stance, proposing public policies that exalted traditions while contributing to maintaining cultural alterity, relations with the environment and, depending on the wishes of each group, with society in general. Heloisa Torres valued both archaeology and ethnology, relating the past and present of cultures within an entangled historicity of colonization and everyday life. She proclaimed the protection of the “original culture of the Indians,” which she defined geographically and amid migration movements, exchanges and encounters of knowledge between different peoples. By putting forward the concept of “deculturation,” which referred to the ways in which the colonial power sought to impose the same patterns of thought, thus creating social inequality, she fought with all her might for the association of scientific and political goals. According to Domingues, Heloisa’s ideals resurface in Black and Indigenous voices, which are increasingly audible in Brazilian society and academia. 

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