Lines of Research (2017-2022)

Continuing the CEstA project prepared by the founders in 2011, we propose to focus on the next period (2017-2022) around three bundles of issues. Below there is a brief summary of these lines of research emphasizing that they are not tight lines, since the general proposal of CEstA is to be a place where the interdisciplinary articulation of the set of issues is built:


Amerindian Stories 

This set of questions focuses on the discussion of modes of articulation of various forms of expression and registration employed by or about Amerindian cultures, and how they are conceived and incorporated into reflection in different disciplinary lines.These sources include: 1) Amerindian narratives: oral (narratives, songs, etc.) and written (Mesoamerican codices as well as collections of myths and, more recently, works of indigenous authorship); 2) historical sources: archives, narratives of travelers, administrators, missionaries, etc .; 3) material and immaterial culture: including iconography, graphics; 4) archaeological records and 5) ethnographic records: collected by long-term field research. It is a matter of moving forward in the team's reflection, moving from the debate previously centered on diversity of sources to the selection of relevant themes to native peoples of America, in synchrony and diachrony.

As an example of work proposed in this line of research, we highlight the study, organization and dissemination of the collection of indigenous historical sources and of the historical, anthropological and archeological literature from the Center of Mesoamerican and Andean Studies - CEMA/USP, which has a remarkable digital collection of indigenous historical sources (Mesoamerican pictoglyphic codices, Amerindian narratives of the Central Andes and Mesoamerica, narratives about indigenous peoples) and historical, anthropological and archeological texts about Amerindian peoples of Mesoamerica and Central Andes. We also highlight the relevant collection of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology - MAE/USP, an inexhaustible source for Amerindian studies.

We also emphasize the development of ethnographic studies of shamanism and the cosmology of Amazonian peoples, as well as the study and translation of Amerindian verbal arts. This investment is justified by the lack of a deeper connection between literary studies and ethnology, which has blocked the access of literate culture to studies carried out by ethnographers and precluded a reevaluation of Brazilian literary criticism assumptions about Amerindian poetics.


Amerindian Structures 

This second set of questions starts from the refusal to separate modes of thought and modes of action, paying attention to the fact that every event is an actualization of a structure, in the sense of pre-established conceptual schemes. Among the convergent themes that have already been worked on and will be deepened by CEstA team, we mention the exchange networks (of goods, people and signs) and the forms of socio-political organization, in different times and spaces. As an example of the development of this set of questions, we highlight the research led in partnership between anthropologists and mathematicians who focus on the analysis of dynamic systems, with innovative applications in the study of kinship systems. Until today kinship studies expect for an unified treatment, that is, an approach that allows us to bring together, on the same analytical level, eclectic objects, such as semantic categories, marriage norms and empirical genealogies, without assuming determination among them. Computational modeling of kinship, as a dynamic system, is a fundamental step in the formulation of a unified treatment.


Contemporary Amerindian issues 

A wide range of themes worked by CEstA team in the bundle previously called "Saberes Ameríndios". Here it is a question of approaching the ways in which the Amerindian peoples experience various situations posed by the modern world - characterized by the capitalist market economy, the growth of cosmopolitan urban centers, the political-epistemological corollaries of the scientific revolution of the 17th century, and the expansion of the representative and democratic politics model. We will continue research on knowledge practices and their transformations, as well as on Amerindian regimes in relation with environments and modes of existence. It is also worth highlighting our interest in the study of indigenous experiences in urban centers, as well as the in-depth investigation of the multiple experiences of relations with national states, NGOs and other public policy agents at local, national and international levels.

Faced with the impasses of the contemporary world posed by climate change and concerns about food security, an example to be highlighted in this line are the research that focuses on the  production and circulation conditions of indigenous knowledge of soil management, seeds as well as biotechnologies of cultivation of forests, lakes and rivers, involving teachers and students from ethnology, ecology, history, social history and urban anthropology. Archaeological research shows very old - and still current - processes of soil management in Amazon regions that are the cradle of many species of plants that later spread throughout South American continent. Ethnology and historical ecology, on the other hand, have been associated with this scenario of abundance Amerindian ways of existence that operate through interspecies cooperation, such as animals, plants and microorganisms, in which natural phenomena and relief elements also participate.