Anthropology of Politics and Law

Threads of life: identity, memory, and ritual. Foster children, now adults, before their records

Description: On average twice a month, especially in ‘ritual periods’ (Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, New Year, birthdays, weddings, birth of children), adults seek the files of the Centre for Socio-Educational Services for Adolescents (CASA) Foundation (São Paulo/SP) in search of records for the period in which, as children and/or adolescents, they were in shelters of the institution. They are, according to the former Director of Archive, looking for threads of their lives. They want to know who were their parents and their brothers, where they were born, what happened that made them be considered as abandoned children. What makes these adults, decades after leaving the shelters, want to recover these threads? Do they perceive life as a fabric? How was it weaved and by which elements? What current situation made them go to the CASA Foundation and access their records? How do they perceive, characterise, describe, and justify this movement of searching and finding ‘official records’ of their childhood and adolescence? Are they looking for a ‘story,’ perhaps imagined or vaguely remembered, but not registered?

In the first phase of the research, 37 records that were reopened between December 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008 were identified and accessed. A form was prepared to quantitatively and qualitatively systematize variables related to biographical data and to procedural and cognitive patterns adopted by the institution (technical reports, official letters, medical and psychological exams etc.).

In the second phase, in progress, I have been able to contact, through the CASA Foundation, the adults who requested the reopening of records analysed in the first phase, to perform life stories.

Professor in charge: Ana Lúcia Pastore Schritzmeyer (


Foundation and Community, social formations from the emergence of new population centres

Description: The object of this research is the analytical description of the processes of foundation and consolidation of population centres as they happened in the Northeastern sertão region, especially since the late 19th century, and more recently, in the grain agribusiness region in the Midwest region, since the second half of the 20th century. The core interest of this project is the social relations that prefigured and were mainly established based on the purpose of foundation and from the onset of this process. To this end, some beams of relationships were distinguished as preferred research focuses: between local actors and the State; within one or between families; between groups, classes and social segments that compose these new local communities, in their complementary and strained relationships. The overall purpose of the project corresponds to the formulation of a comparative frame of the processes of foundation and consolidation (or decline) of population centres in the two regions, to recognize recurrences and distinctions to be correlated with historical periods and economic and political circumstances, but always giving priority to the internal social dynamics of formulation and realisation of those projects. As a complement to a classic theme of Brazilian historiography, human geography, and sociology, here we propose an anthropological and ethnographic approach, to emphasize the social production within this universe of communities in formation, with the support of an anthropological literature that ranges from studies on community and on anthropology of peasantry and kinship, to the most recent developments in the discipline, such as the anthropology of politics and morals.

Professor in charge: Ana Claudia Duarte Rocha Marques (


Inter-Units Project on Violence, Democracy, and Rights. Subproject: Subjects, Speeches, and Institutions

Description: We studied the relationships between authority, violence, and language, investigating the problem of constitution of rights-holders in a multidisciplinary perspective that brings together knowledge from areas such as Anthropology, Law and Theory of Narrative. We analysed legal proceedings, newspaper articles, and files from the Centre for Study of Violence (NEV), examining speeches by institutional authorities and other agents involved with them, aiming to distinguish specificities and relating legal, anthropological, and linguistic categories.

Professor in charge: Ana Lúcia Pastore Schritzmeyer (

A dialogue between Brazilian and British anthropological production about family, kinship, and rural relationalities in Brazil

Description: This project has as its purpose the approximation of recent anthropological approaches on family in Brazil, especially in the so-called rural universes and in small communities, and contemporary theoretical elaborations on kinship that have been developed especially in the United Kingdom. The data collected and the analyses made in my previous researches, in the sertão of Pernambuco and northern Mato Grosso, will constitute the favoured empirical field, to prepare more general overviews on the topic, in line with works done by other researchers in Brazil.

This work aims more than to approximate empirical data obtained in Brazil to foreign theoretical models. Above all, it proposes to initiate a dialogue between anthropological analytic propositions currently made in Brazil and the United Kingdom. The choice of the University of Edinburgh to host this work is due to the supervision of Dr Janet Carsten, a fundamental reference in this field of debate, and is aimed to strengthen the dialogue that has already begun with other teachers and students of social anthropology at the School of Social and Political Sciences of that university. The period of stay in Edinburgh will provide my participation in seminars and academic events; access to a vast literature in part unavailable in Brazil; the strengthening of academic ties with top researchers in the area of kinship; as well as preparation of articles for publication, resulting from this project.

Professor in charge: Ana Claudia Duarte Rocha Marques (