The 18th International Union of Anthropological und Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) World Congress was held at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil, July 16-20, 2018. Approximately 2,000 participants discussed the Congress theme “World (of) Encounters: The Past, Present and Future of Anthropological Knowledge” across 236 panels. Four panels dealt with the history of anthropology, among them one convened by History of Anthropology Network (HOAN) members.

Federal University of Santa Catarina campus in Florianópolis

The first six-paper panel, Theory, Progress and History in Anthropology, took place on July 16 and was convened by Gérald Gaillard (Université des Sciences et Techniques de Lille, France), Petr Skalník (University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic), Peter Schröder (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil), and Han Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany). Elena Soboleva (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russia) lectured on “Brazilian Materials of the Second Russian Expedition to Latin America (1914-1915).” Vladimir Popov (St. Petersburg State University, Russia) discussed the subject of “‘Tribe’: A Concept Which Lost Its Conceptuality.” Peter Schröder talked about “An Episode from the Beginnings of Anthropology in the Amazon: Curt Nimuendajú and the Xipaya Indians – A Research in Adverse Circumstances.” Petr Skalník discussed “The Czech Case: Skirmishes Between Sociocultural Anthropology and Národopis.” Gérald Gaillard raised the question “Can We Speak of Scientific Progress in Anthropology?” Finally, Renate Brigitte Viertler (Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil) lectured on “Karl von den Steinen: His Life and Contributions to Brazilian Ethnology.”

Following the panel, a new chair and deputy chair of the IUAES Commission on Theoretical Anthropology (COTA) were elected by members present at the meeting: Vladimir Popov and Dwight Read (UCLA), respectively. The outgoing chair, Petr Skalník, and deputy chair, Aleksandar Bosković, were thanked for their efforts.

 On July 19, a panel on Missionary Ethnographies: Encounters, Uses and Legacies Between Science and Faith was convened by Richard Hoelzl (Universität Göttingen, Germany). Two papers were presented: Melvina Araújo (Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil) read a paper about “Missionaries, Anthropologists and Their Traditions” focusing on the work of the priest and ethnographer Costanzo Cagnolo; Jhéssika Angell (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil) discussed “The Anthropology Inside the Missionary Training Course: An Ethnographic Exercise.”

A second history of anthropology panel, Alternate Histories about Anthropology: Tensions Between National Imperatives and Cosmopolitan Imperatives, took place on the same day, convened by Antonio Motta (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil), Lorenzo Macagno (Federal University of Paraná, Brazil) and Eric Morier-Genoud (Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland). Dione do Socorro de Souza Leão (Federal University of Pará, Brazil) presented on “Ethnography in the Judicial Archives of the Labor Board of Breves, Marajo Archipelago, Pará.” Lorenzo Macagno lectured on “Franz Boas and Kamba Simango: Anthropology in the Primordia of Pan-Africanism.” Erik Petschelies (State University of Campinas, Brazil) reported on “Theodor Koch-Grünberg and the Brazilian Intellectuals.” Amurabi Oliveira (Federal University of Santa Catarina) gave a paper on “The Institute of Anthropology in Santa Catarina: Between the Local and the National.” Andreia Vicente (State University of Western Paraná, Brazil) spoke about “Kalervo Obert and the Transnational Model of ‘Community.’” Robert Wegner (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil) discussed “Eugenics, Genetics, and Anthropology in Brazil: The Racial Miscegenation Debate in 1930s.” Eric Morier-Genoud lectured on the relation of Henri Philippe Junod with anthropology and human rights. Finally, Antonio Motta returned to the main topic of the panel by presenting a comparative overview of the history of ethnology in Brazil, Spain and Portugal.

Some participants of the Alternate Histories Panel, from the left to right: Antonio Motta, Robert Wegner, Andreia Vicente, Amurabi Oliveira, Lorenzo Macagno, Eric Morier-Genoud, Helder Pires Amâncio, Erik Petschelies.

On July 20, the final day of the Congress, Mariana Françozo (Leiden University, the Netherlands) and Christiano Tambascia (State University of Campinas) convened the panel “New Encounters with Museum Anthropology: Objects, History, Politics.” Christiano Tambascia discussed the history of Brazilian ethnology by “Recollecting the History of Anthropology: Nimuendajú’s Ramkokamekra Collection.” Renata Curcio Valente (Museu do Índio, Brazil) read a paper on “Guido Boggiani’s and Darcy Ribeiro’s Ethnographic Collections of the Kadiwéu Indians.” Richard Hoelzl presented his paper, “Ethnographic Collecting, Religious Zeal and Social Reproduction,” about a collection of religious artifacts from Tanzania held at the Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich, Germany. Lucas Monteiro de Araújo (Federal University of Pará) lectured on “Collections and Travelers: Studies of Collecting Practices Adopted in Scientific Expeditions in the Marajoara Region.” Eduardo H. B. Vasconcelos (State University of Goias) reported on “The Lost Science: The History of a Museum of Natural History in Brazil (19th Century)” and, closing the panel, Mariana Françozo presented a paper called “Old Story, New Display: Addressing the History of Anthropology in Museum Exhibitions.”

The Congress’s keynote speaker, Kabengele Munanga (University of São Paulo, State University of Southwest Bahia and the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia), also dealt with the history of ethnology. A Brazilian ethnologist of Congolese descent, Munanga discussed the position of Brazilian ethnology towards Western traditions, mainly from a decolonized standpoint. According to him, the formation of social scientists throughout the world is based on the study of Western theoretical traditions, especially European ones, and many of them not necessarily are capable to dialogue with local empirical problems. National authors, and especially Afro-Brazilians, are underestimated in favor of an adaptation to a scientific agenda that is also a political one. Munanga defended not only more academic space for “marginalized” anthropological traditions, but a displacement of the relation between center and peripheral anthropological traditions.

Kabengele Munanga’s keynote lecture

The next venue IUAES World Congress will be held at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, in 2023.


Erik Petschelies: contributions / website /