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After the Olympics

Despite hysteria in some sectors of the international press over Zika, raw sewage pouring into Guanabara Bay, and security threats facing athletes and visitors, the Rio Olympics proved successful as a sporting event. So, in the end, after initial lack of sponsor interest and slow ticket sales, did the Paralympics, which ended up beating Beijing … Continue reading After the Olympics

Visit to the ENAH and Ibero

I spent last week in Mexico City, at the invitation of Dr. Leif Korsbaek of the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH). Two of the lectures that I gave at the ENAH were focused on British Social Anthropology. The first lecture was on the British style of fieldwork, illustrated with some of my own … Continue reading Visit to the ENAH and Ibero

Calling police to account in Bairro da Paz

This post is mostly about a recent event in a community in Salvador, the capital city of the state of Bahia, which I began to study in 2006. Bairro da Paz is an irregular settlement with a population of 60,000 residents, formed by a land invasion during the last years of military rule. The remarkable … Continue reading Calling police to account in Bairro da Paz

Canalha! Canalha! Canalha!

Canalha is a Portuguese word that means "scoundrel" when applied to an individual and "rabble" or "riffraff" when applied to a group. Senator Tancredo Neves, the grandfather of Aécio Neves, shouted it thee times in the direction of Senator Auro Moura Andrade, after Andrade falsely claimed in the plenary session of April 2, 1964, that President … Continue reading Canalha! Canalha! Canalha!

Postscript on the Brazilian coup

The legal farce of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is set to continue a little while longer. Her defence team has appealed to the Supreme Court for the decision of the Senate to be annulled and Michel Temer returned to his prior status as interim president pending a final decision. It is difficult to imagine … Continue reading Postscript on the Brazilian coup

Brazil’s uncertain future

The extended process of impeaching President Dilma Rousseff came to its inevitable end yesterday with her removal from office, by a majority of 61 votes for to 20 against, in the Senate, whose members act as the final jury in impeachment cases in a session presided over by the President of the Supreme Court. Minister … Continue reading Brazil’s uncertain future

Nunca más?

During a recent visit to Buenos Aires, I visited the site of the former Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), used as a clandestine torture and extermination centre under the last Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983). The government of Néstor Kirchner turned the ESMA into an educational facility dedicated to the memory of the victims of the … Continue reading Nunca más?

Brazilian anthropology under attack

One of the most influential groups in the most reactionary congress in Brazilian history is the Rural Lobby (Bancada Ruralista), which represents the interests of large landowners and commercial farmers. In Brazil large landowner means very large indeed, with some families controlling holdings the size of Wales. But even the more modestly endowed members of … Continue reading Brazilian anthropology under attack

Michoacán: an update

It is now some time since I last reported on developments in the Mexican state of Michoacán, so here is a note on what remains, overall, a less than happy panorama. The new state government that entered office in October 2015, headed by Silvano Aureoles of the PRD, promised to get a firm grip on … Continue reading Michoacán: an update

The Olympics and Rio’s crisis

The interim federal government headed by Michel Temer of the PMDB has now responded to the declaration of a state of financial catastrophe by the heavily indebted state government of Rio de Janeiro, which has been in the hands of the PMDB since 2003. It has provided a 2.9 billion reais emergency cash injection. This … Continue reading The Olympics and Rio’s crisis