HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article about the origins of Portuguese colonial anthropology.
Roque, Ricardo, 2022. “Equivocal Connections: Fonseca Cardoso and the Origins of Portuguese Colonial Anthropology,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
The history of anthropology is strongly intertwined with colonial history. Yet, more still needs to be known about how anthropological texts were actually read and why and how they were used, or not, by colonial agents. How did anthropological texts become, or fail to become, connected to colonial projects, events, and materials across their histories of production and reception? This article addresses these issues by discussing the unstable trajectories of production and consumption of racial anthropometric texts, before, during, and after fieldwork. Roque focuses on the work and biography of Captain Artur da Fonseca Cardoso (1865-1912), an army officer and racial anthropologist who was posthumously celebrated as the ‘founding father’ of the Portuguese physical and racialist discipline of ‘colonial anthropology.’ The article critically reexamines this origin story by following the trajectory of production and consumption of the first published study of Portuguese racial anthropology in the colonies (the text ‘O Indígena de Satari’), between the 1890s and the 1930s. The analysis highlights the unsteady binding of anthropology and colonialism across time. Rather than a straightforward tale of the origins of colonial anthropology, the case of Fonseca Cardoso and ‘O Indígena de Satari’ shows anthropology’s attachment to colonialism can emerge as a chain of equivocal connections.