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Accepted Paper:

Brésil, terre rouge: Race and gender in the notebooks of Dina Dreyfus Lévi-Strauss  
Fernanda Azeredo de Moraes (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to discuss the implications of race, gender and miscegenation through the eyes of forgotten 1930's anthropologist, Dina Dreyfus Lévi-Strauss. Her journals dating from her Brazilian years can be read as a looking glass for the complex experiences of racialisation across the Atlantic.

Paper long abstract:

Dina Dreyfus Lévi-Strauss is one of the rare French woman anthropologists to have gone on field research in the Américas before World War Two. Born from a french jewish father and a catholic Italian mother, Dina had studied with Paul Rivet and Marcel Mauss at the Institut d'Ethnologie in Paris before going to Brazil accompanying her husband, the newly appointed professor of the University of São Paulo, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Once there, she conducted investigations on physical anthropology amongst urban as well as native populations and published a textbook on the matter.

Her fieldwork and intimate journals dating from the 1938 mission show, among many other things, her attention to the bodies around her as well as to race relations as a fundamental of Brazilian society. As an intimate document, it testifies of her experience as she is looked back by the Brazilians, native, black, white and mixed raced people that put into question her self image and identity. Her personal uses of racial (and nowadays racist) language, as well as her particular situation as white women scientist in the field with her husband, make for an interesting example of the complex interplays of gender and race in the history of the discipline.

Through the study of the writings of Dina Dreyfus Lévi-Strauss I wish to interrogate the implicit notions of whiteness, (im)purity and virility in the context of 1930’s french anthropology, a young science that proclaimed itself as “anti-racist” and that defended a more “human” and “rational” style of colonisation.

Panel P155a
Race, Anthropology and (De)coloniality [History of Anthropology Network]
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -