Racial Prejudice and Stigma of Disease: The Pioneering Work of Oracy Nogueira

Maria Laura Viveiros de Castro Cavalcanti

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro


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Cavalcanti, Maria Laura Viveiros de Castro, 2020. “Racial Prejudice and Stigma of Disease: The Pioneering Work of Oracy Nogueira”, in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris.

URL Bérose : article2124.html

Publié dans le cadre du thème de recherche «Histoire des anthropologies au Brésil», dirigé par Stefania Capone (CNRS, CéSor) et Fernanda Arêas Peixoto (Universidade de São Paulo)

As a sociologist with a broad anthropological training, Oracy Nogueira (1917-1996) was the author of an innovative body of work, including groundbreaking approaches to racial prejudice and the stigma of disease [1]. He also wrote extensively on family and kinship, politics and community, the sociology of university-level professions, and social research methods and techniques. His notable contributions to the study of social prejudice – whether related to disease (tuberculosis in Brazil) or to ethnicity (exploring the relations between black and white populations in Brazil and the United States) – allow us to place him in the pantheon of classic authors in Brazilian social sciences (Cavalcanti 2009b, 1996).

Nogueira completed his undergraduate (1942) and master’s (1945) degrees at the Free School of Sociology and Politics (Escola Livre de Sociologia e Política: ELSP) in São Paulo. He studied for his doctorate between 1945 and 1947 under the supervision of Everett Hughes in the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Chicago in the United States. His intellectual trajectory expresses the fecundity of this period of Brazilian social sciences, from the beginning of their institutionalization in university education in the 1930s to the reform of higher education undertaken at the end of the 1960s, which stimulated the expansion of postgraduate courses in the country. [2] Nogueira’s presence, at once discrete and remarkable, was felt in diverse institutions and initiatives during this period and continued until his retirement in 1983 at the University of São Paulo. He continued to write until a few years before his death in February 1996.

Presented in 1945, his master’s dissertation – Vozes de Campos do Jordão: experiências sociais e psíquicas do tuberculoso pulmonar no Estado de São Paulo (2009 [1950]) (Voices from Campos do Jordão: social and psychic experiences of tuberculosis patients in the state of São Paulo.) – examined the disease as a collective and individual experience. The text is an ethnographic study of the stigma of having the disease, which was then spreading rapidly in the country. [3] Sensitive to the subjective aspects of culture and social organization, Nogueira analysed all stages of the process of “becoming a TB patient” from diagnosis to the desired cure, including the period of isolation for treatment in the town of Campos do Jordão, and the social environments through which the disease and the sick circulated.

Nogueira’s exploration of race relations comprises a trilogy of writings published between 1942 and 1955. These are the article “Atitude desfavorável de alguns anunciantes de São Paulo em relação aos empregados de cor” (Unfavourable attitudes of some São Paulo job advertisers in relation to people of colour) (1985b [1942]), a work from his undergraduate course; the report “Relações raciais no município de Itapetininga” (Race relations in the municipality of Itapetininga) (Nogueira 1998 [1955]), a product of his involvement in the UNESCO Race Relations Project; and the essay ’Preconceito racial de marca e preconceito racial de origem (sugestão para a interpretação do material sobre relações raciais no Brasil)’ (Racial trait prejudice and racial origin prejudice - a suggestion for interpreting the material on race relations in Brazil) (Nogueira 1985c [1955]). [4]

In the first article, Nogueira (1985b) examined job adverts published over the course of a year in one São Paulo newspaper. The text establishes that racial prejudice exists independently of social class prejudice in Brazil, and is expressed differently from similar race prejudices in the United States and South Africa. The second work – the UNESCO report, republished as Preconceito de marca: as relações raciais em Itapetininga (Trait prejudice: race relations in Itapetininga) in 1998 – is based on intensive field research undertaken as part of his involvement in the race relations project sponsored by UNESCO between 1951 and 1952. It examines the patterns of relations between whites (brancos) and blacks (negros, or pretos, the native category used when Nogueira was writing) in the municipality of Itapetininga, São Paulo, over the course of three centuries, combining historical and statistical information with data from ethnography and participant observation conducted between 1947 and 1952. The third and best-known work (Nogueira 1985c) focuses on the systems of race relations in Brazil and the United States, synthesizing the differences between the two cases under twelve topics, encapsulated in the twin concepts of ‘trait prejudice’ (preconceito de marca) and ‘origin prejudice’ (preconceito de origem). First presented at the International Congress of Americanists (São Paulo, August 1954), the paper had a wide impact with versions in English and Spanish and was also presented at later international congresses (Nogueira 2008a and 2008b). It has been an indispensable reference for studies of race relations in Brazil ever since.

In this text, I shall examine these valuable contributions made by Nogueira after a brief biographical review, concentrating on the years of his professional training. It is worth emphasizing from the outset, however, that the study of his work remains in progress and future researchers are invited to explore it too, thanks to the creation of the Fundo Oracy Nogueira (Oracy Nogueira Archive), [5] available for public consultation at the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation).

I. Brief Biography and Professional Background

Oracy Nogueira was born on November 17, 1917, in Cunha (São Paulo) where he lived until the age of ten. [6] His parents were members of the white middle class, primary school teachers and devout Catholics. The Christian values of modesty, humility and unselfishness that were enshrined in the mystical literature to which he had access in childhood strongly shaped his character, prevailing, in his own words, “even through the period of maximum negativism” (Nogueira 1985a).

The relations between blacks and whites also permeated his affective universe from a very particular angle, almost the exact opposite of the more common idea of racial discrimination. In the 1920s, Cunha’s mayor and main political leader was a black Bahian physician (at the time, the expression ‘person of colour’ was used), Dr Alfredo Casemiro da Rocha, the principal figure in the biography narrated in Nogueira’s final book, Negro político, político negro (A political black man, a black politician) (1992a). Casemiro da Rocha had come from Bahia and was a self-made-man who had achieved a commanding position in what was then a small town on the frontier of the region’s economic development. Though loved and respected by the local population and elite, he was still a black man in a white world, whose colour was undeniable. Combined with other formative life events, this experience of a social relationship marked simultaneously by intimacy and distance would later contribute to Nogueira’s comparisons of the phenomena of racism in Brazil and the United States.

The family moved to Catanduva (São Paulo) in 1928, and soon after to Botucatu (also São Paulo) in 1931/32, where Nogueira completed elementary school. The dynamism, flexibility and discreet enthusiasm which were characteristic of his entire career were apparent from very early on. In 1932, aged fourteen, Nogueira took part as a volunteer in the Constitutionalist Revolution of São Paulo, [7] an experience vividly described in “A revolução constitucionalista de 1932: recordações de um voluntário” (The 1932 constitutionalist revolution: a volunteer’s recollections) (1992b). In 1933/34, he worked as a reporter and writer on the Correio de Botucatu. By this time an agnostic, he was introduced to Marxism and became an activist for the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), created in 1922, to which he would remain affiliated until the beginning of the 1960s.

Between 1936 and 1938, Nogueira had to isolate himself from his family for tuberculosis treatment in São José dos Campos, also in the state of São Paulo. In 1939, his family moved to the capital of the state where Nogueira, by now cured, enrolled on a primary school teacher training course with the intention of pursuing his parents’ career. However, in 1940, a yearbook of the Free School of Sociology and Politics (ELSP) shown to him by a colleague led him to enrol in the institution’s undergraduate course. [8] There Nogueira met Lisette Toledo Ribeiro, who would later become his wife, collaborator and the mother of his four children. At ELSP, Nogueira soon became a scholarship student of Donald Pierson and initiated his master’s course in 1942. His dissertation, defended in 1945, resulted in Vozes de Campos do Jordão: experiências sociais e psíquicas do tuberculoso pulmonar no Estado de São Paulo (Nogueira 2009 [1950]).

The stimulating intellectual environment found by Nogueira at ELSP revolved around the figure of Donald Pierson. [9] After joining the institution’s staff on arrival in Brazil in 1939, Pierson had organized its Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and some years later, in 1945, the Division of Postgraduate Studies. Nogueira enrolled in the first class on both the undergraduate course and the master’s course. The relationship established between the two men would last a lifetime, and Nogueira later wrote about Pierson’s work in Brazil (Nogueira 1970). [10]

Donald Pierson (1900-1995) was born in Indiana in the United States. At the age of six, he moved to rural Kansas with his parents, who were Quaker farmers. At the age of 22, “with a suitcase, a borrowed 100 dollars, a new suit and a pair of glasses”, he headed to the city of Emporia, Kansas, where he completed his higher education. [11] In 1920, he carried out his postgraduate studies at the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Chicago. As Gilberto Velho (1999) emphasized, [12] the members of this intellectual environment shared concerns that went far beyond conventional academic limits. Among them were scholars whose lives and works renewed thinking and research in the social sciences, among them Herbert Mead, John Dewey, Louis Wirth, and Robert Ezra Park. The latter especially, Donald Pierson’s friend and supervisor, considered Brazil one of the important global centres of racial contact (Pierson 1944, Valladares 2010, Maio and Lopes 2017). Encouraged by Park, Pierson conducted field research in Salvador, Bahia, between 1935 and 1937, which resulted in his classic work Negroes in Brazil: A Study of Race Contact at Bahia (1942). [13]

On joining ELSP’s academic staff in 1939, Pierson introduced a constructivist conception of knowledge to Brazil, combining teaching with field research and closely linking graduate and postgraduate activities (Castro Faria 1984, 1993). The aim was to develop and cultivate a taste for research in the social sciences, preparing future scientists through research undertaken by themselves under the supervision of more experienced scholars. [14]

As Pierson’s student and assistant, Oracy Nogueira collaborated in the translation of his teacher’s doctoral thesis into Portuguese (Pierson 1945a), as well as typing up and translating the lectures for his course “Race and Culture” given at ELSP between 1942 and 1952 (Oracy Nogueira Archive, Sub-series 5.3, dossier 5). The anthropologist Radcliffe-Brown (Radcliffe-Brown 1973), the ethnologist Herbert Baldus (Baldus 1949), the writer and the sociologist and art critic Sérgio Milliet (Milliet 1955), as well as others like Emílio Willems, also taught at ELSP during this period. [15] In 1942, under Pierson’s supervision, Nogueira concluded his bachelor’s degree and, in 1945, his master’s degree as part of the first group of master’s students trained in the social sciences by a Brazilian institution. [16] Nogueira would remain closely linked to ELSP until Donald Pierson’s return to the United States in 1952. [17]

In 1945, thanks to Pierson’s mediation and the support of a study grant awarded by the Institute of International Education, Nogueira headed to the University of Chicago (USA) to begin work on his doctorate. This period was decisive for the maturing of Nogueira’s original comparative approach to race relations, combining the rigorous theoretical and methodological training provided by the courses that he attended with his own field research on race relations in the United States.

Nogueira, however, never completed his PhD at Chicago. In 1952, despite obtaining a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to present his thesis, Nogueira – affiliated as he was to the Brazilian Communist Party – was barred from returning to the United States due to the McCarthyism then dominating US politics. That same year, the UNESCO-sponsored project on race relations in Brazil was launched (Maio 1997 and 1999). Donald Pierson, invited to participate in the project, was already committed to research in the São Francisco River Valley (Pierson 1972) and instead directly recommended Oracy Nogueira to Alfred Métraux. [18] Nogueira thus joined the project’s team of researchers. With his fieldwork already under way in the city of Itapetininga, São Paulo, Nogueira then deepened his study of race relations, reviving the interest already shown in 1942 in the course work for his bachelor’s degree on the ‘unfavourable attitudes’ towards black workers in the job adverts published in a São Paulo newspaper (Nogueira 1985b).

At ELSP, Oracy Nogueira had taught on the undergraduate course since 1943 and on the postgraduate course from 1947, simultaneously carrying out research activities until his eventual departure from the institution at the beginning of the 1960s. [19] Dating from this period are the two notable studies of stigma and prejudice mentioned earlier. Another work, Pesquisa social: introdução a suas técnicas (Social research: an introduction to its techniques) (1969), resulted from a series of lectures given at the Drama and Music Conservatory of São Paulo over the course of 1951. [20] Nogueira was also heavily involved in the conceptual debates then occupying the so-called Brazilian Folklore Movement – highly active in Brazil between 1947 and 1964 – of which diverse social scientists were members (Vilhena 1997, Cavalcanti and Vilhena 1990, Nogueira 1951 and Nogueira et al. 1955) and he collaborated actively with the São Paulo Folklore Commission. [21]

In 1952, the same year that Pierson left Brazil, Nogueira left the ELSP, taking up the invitation of a professorship at the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of the University of São Paulo and a research position at the Institute of Administration of the same institution (Cavalcanti 1995), directed at the time by the anthropologist Mário Wagner Vieira da Cunha (Cunha 1939 and 2008). Appointed head of the institute’s Social Research Sector in 1955, Nogueira remained there until 1957.

At the invitation of anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro, his former student at ELSP, Nogueira moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1957 to work at the Brazilian Educational Research Centre (CBPE) run by the National Institute of Pedagogical Studies of the Ministry of Education (Nogueira 1958, Ribeiro 1997). Following this move, Nogueira published Família e comunidade: um estudo sociológico de Itapetininga (Family and community: a sociological study of Itapetininga) (Nogueira, 1962). [22] A result of extensive research carried out between 1947 and 1956, the book demonstrated the sociological relevance of family organization for the political configuration of the municipality of Itapetininga, whose history interweaves with that of particular families and kinship networks. It also contains diverse ethnographic gems, among them descriptions of a procession and a picnic, which provide an insight into the local hierarchies, gender relations and sociability of the time.

Nogueira returned to USP’s Institute of Administration in 1961 when he formally severed his connections to ELSP. In 1967, he presented his thesis for the Chair of Sociology II of the Municipal Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Osasco, a study that was also groundbreaking because of its theme and its approach: Contribuição ao estudo das profissões de nível universitário no Estado de São Paulo (A Contribution to the Study of University-level Professions in the State of São Paulo) (Nogueira 1967). [23]

In 1968, Nogueira joined the academic staff in the area of Sociology at USP’s Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, where he became a full professor in 1978, retiring in 1983. [24] Before his death Nogueira also published the striking “Introduction” (1985a) to his book Tanto preto quanto branco (As much black as white) (1985), which contained two of his articles from the aforementioned trilogy on race relations (1985b and 1985c). He also published the previously cited biography of Casemiro da Rocha (1992a), the black political leader of Cunha in the 1920s. His work has been the subject of renewed interest (Nogueira 1998 and 2009). Translations of “Preconceito racial de marca, preconceito racial de origem” (Trait racial prejudice and origin racial prejudice) (1985c) done at the time and unpublished works have been published posthumously (Nogueira 2008a, 2008b, 2015). [25]

Until illness curtailed his activity, Nogueira was a tireless researcher. A brief reconstruction of how his archives came under my care appears at the end of this text. For now, what matters is emphasizing the exemplarity of his works and his principled and talented career, which failed to receive due institutional recognition while he was alive. His discrete brilliance sparkles, though, in his published work and in the papers carefully stored and made readily accessible to researchers in the Oracy Nogueira Archive.

II. Voices from Campos do Jordão: disease as stigma and social experience

“Despair (23-9-44). Indifference for everything and everyone. The innumerable examples of affection and comprehension that I have received recently mostly just leave me cold. I should welcome them with more love and sincerity, but I cannot, I cannot! I am bitter, it feels like something is being torn apart inside me, I want to cry, to run away, I don’t know where. Today, more than ever, my suffering has grown.” (Excerpt from Nogueira’s diary as an inpatient at the Campos do Jordão sanatorium in 1944. Nogueira, 2009, pp. 181-182.)

In Vozes de Campos do Jordão: experiências sociais e psíquicas do tuberculoso pulmonar no Estado de São Paulo (Voices from Campos do Jordão: social and psychic experiences of pulmonary tuberculosis in the state of São Paulo) (2009 [1955]), his master’s dissertation which he presented in 1945, Nogueira explored the sociological and psychological dimensions of experience with the disease. [26] Beyond the organic cause responsible for the development of tuberculosis and the therapeutic practices used to treat it, he seeks to understand how individuals become socially ‘sick.’ He examines the entire process from diagnosis to the desired cure, including admission to hospital and the removal of the sick person from his or her immediate circle – that is, by segregation, which, in the 1940s, was part of the generally lengthy treatment for TB. The representations and stereotypes that informed the attitudes and social conduct of the time were, in his view, part of a cultural complex imposed on the healthy as much as the sick. By avoiding normative or value-laden approaches, the research has maintained its contemporary relevance by providing insights and notable contributions to the exploration of the sociocultural dimensions of disease.

Seen as a supernatural sanction, a romantic condition, an organic disease or a social blight, the set of ideas and attitudes relating to TB favoured, from the beginning of the process, the demarcation of strict borders between the healthy and the sick. Socially, the latter were banned from everyday coexistence with others through a series of formal and informal sanctions. Nogueira, however, sought above all to apprehend the viewpoint of TB patients, [27] who saw themselves as more than just the carriers of a bacillus, the specific agent of a transmissible disease. Subjectively, the difference internalized through the diagnosis left sick people viewing themselves as a permanent threat to both themselves and others. They were left feeling like ‘untouchables’, [28] a sentiment intensified by the institutionalization of hospital admission as an effective form of treatment. The confluence of internal and external sanctions characterized what Nogueira called the “ostracism of tuberculosis” (pp. 61-66).

Nogueira then proceeded to the case study of 104 sick patients who, isolated in a health resort in the ‘magic mountain’ [29] of Campos do Jordão, were transformed into a social group with its own characteristics. The solidarity which developed among the inpatients – who would call each other ‘brother’ or ‘colleague’ – contrasted with the ironic treatment shown to recent arrivals as they gradually became socialized into the ‘group spirit.’ This socialization into a singular universe of ideas, attitudes and values occurred through procedures that contemporary anthropology, reviving the concept created in 1909 by Arnold Van Gennep, would not hesitate to call a rite of passage. In the everyday speech developed by the group, any mention of the name of the illness was avoided. At the same time, there was an intense emphasis on self-awareness and self-criticism. Pejorative terms and expressions relating to death were rife, accompanied by a profound scepticism about any cure. Terms specific to the group like pneu (the term for a pneumothorax) and pleuris (pleurisy, an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the lungs) were associated with the sexual act and a lover, respectively (pp. 82-84). In the sanatorium, “the constant interaction that became established over the course of more than three decades between the sick and their associates – other residents, doctors, nurses and so on – gave continuity and consistency to the group. A spontaneous organization emerged with its own set of ways of thinking, feeling and acting, which the sick and the doctors themselves came to perceive as a whole, referring to it significantly by the expression ‘tuberculous environment’” (discussed in one of the book chapters, pp. 147-158). The study also examines the complex process of negotiating everyday life as expressed in the interaction of the sick inpatients with the groups of doctors, nurses and healthy people from whom they were distinguished.

Nogueira’s innovation here was to propose various previously unasked questions for sociological inquiry: how do individuals receive their positive diagnosis? How do their relatives react? How does the transition from being healthy to sick affect the subjectivity of the person involved? How are discrimination and the stereotypes related to the disease introjected by the patients themselves? How do new arrivals become socialized at the ‘magic mountain’ of Campos do Jordão? How do doctors, nurses, the sick and the healthy interact in day-to-day life? The ‘tuberculous environment’ is revealed as a social world with its own groups, rules, values and representations, its own conflicts and forms of social control, and its own set of ways to think, feel and act.

The concept of stigma, which Erving Goffman (1988) [30] would later develop and baptize as a form of demarcating social distance, is implicit in Nogueira’s approach to the social treatment of people affected by tuberculosis. Nogueira knew how to transform his own experience of the disease, including the two years of isolation to which he was submitted between 1936-1938 at another sanatorium in the town of São José dos Campos, into socio-anthropological knowledge through field research carried out in 1944 with the inpatients in Campos do Jordão. His work casts light on the psychosocial and sociocultural dimensions of the disease in an innovative approach in the context of the incipient Brazilian social sciences.

III. Trait prejudice and origin prejudice: racism in Brazil and the United States

In “Atitude desfavorável de alguns anunciantes de São Paulo em relação aos empregados de cor” (The unfavourable attitude of some São Paulo job advertisers in relation to people of colour), an article resulting from a paper written for a course taken on his bachelor’s degree in 1942, Nogueira (1985b) had already wondered whether the ‘unfavourable attitude’ to pretos (blacks) and mulatos (mulattos) found in job adverts in São Paulo’s newspapers might reveal a form of racial prejudice that, unlike the race prejudice encountered in South Africa and the United States, was characteristic of Brazilian society. This prejudice was also, he conjectured, irreducible to social class prejudice, since it affected pretos, mulatos or pardos (black, mulatto or brown individuals) from the so-called superior classes too. For Nogueira, the racial prejudice detected in the city of São Paulo varied in intensity according to the nuance of colour attributed to the person: the darker the individual, the more he or she would suffer the consequences of prejudice.

This argument sketched in his student work would be refined and deepened by the intensive research conducted over later years in the United States and Brazil, which led Nogueira to the comparison eventually summarized in the work of 1954 (Nogueira 1985c). [31] Let us examine it more closely.

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Fig. 1.

Fragment of fieldnotes written by Oracy Nogueira. Chicago, November 1946.

Oracy Nogueira Archive (Sub-series 5. 4, dossier 1).

Oracy Nogueira’s comprehension of US racism was based on the intensive fieldwork carried out during his stay in the United States between 1945 and 1947. Since entering ELSP, with the encouragement of Donald Pierson, Nogueira had studied the Brazilian and American literatures on race relations. A reader of the works of Nina Rodrigues, Manoel Querino, Oliveira Vianna, Arthur Ramos and Gilberto Freyre, Nogueira was familiar too with the American works of Robert Park, Melville Herskovits, Franklin Frazier, W. Lloyd Warner, E. B. Reuter, Edwin R. Embree, E. V. Stonequist, and John Dollard. On arriving in the United States, two books, only recently published and heavily debated in the university environment, An American Dilemma by Gunnar Myrdal (1962 [1944]) and Black Metropolis by St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton (1945), proved decisive in defining his own interests. Maintaining friendships with black people, frequenting black neighbourhoods and joining civil associations campaigning against racism, Nogueira sought to learn about the US racial situation from the inside, already planning, through the courses undertaken at the University of Chicago, to compare it subsequently with the Brazilian racial situation. [32] The concept of origin racial prejudice – prejudice based on genealogy – that resulted from this field experience accounts for the ideology and functioning of US racism, as Nogueira understood it.

His approach to Brazilian racism, for its part, was deepened in the research in the municipality of Itapetininga, conducted between 1950 and 1952, as part of the previously mentioned project on race relations in Brazil sponsored by UNESCO (Nogueira 1998). [33] This research examined the patterns of “race relations” in the municipality of Itapetininga over a period of three centuries. From the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, the region’s situation as an outpost of the colonial economic frontier effectively encapsulated the country’s own history, reflecting the sequential phases of fighting, decimating and imprisoning the indigenous population, the replacement of indigenous labour by slave labour, and finally the abolition of slavery at the end of the nineteenth century. Participant observation was combined with Nogueira’s analysis of historical documents, supplementing the field study of the racial situation in the twentieth century with the conclusions extrapolated from examining the historical and contemporary censuses. With this dual approach, Nogueira highlighted the cultural character of the colour/racial categories utilized in the municipality’s historical censuses and statistics: as integral parts of a system of social classification, these categories already found their way into the questionnaires laden with cultural meanings. The concept of racial trait prejudice, that is prejudice based on appearance, expresses the discriminatory pattern of race relations revealed by his research, distinct from the racial origin prejudice, prejudice based on genealogy, encountered by Nogueira during his stay in the United States.

Let us quickly explore his arguments. The 1940 census recorded the population of Itapetininga municipality as 34,437 people: 89% brancos (white), 4% pardos (brown), 5.2% pretos (black), 1.1% amarelos (yellow). However, direct observation in public spaces, clubs, churches and other venues where people agglomerated in the city suggested that 25% were “persons of colour,” a much higher percentage than shown by the statistical data. The data resulting from his direct observation and the census figures were incongruent. Since the statistical data resulted from declarations made by the census respondents themselves, Nogueira identified the reason for this incongruence in the prevailing tendency to classify mestiços (mixed-race people) whose ‘non-white’ physiognomic features were ‘slight’ or negligible as brancos (white). A situation witnessed by the author during his field research provides a good illustration of his argument. Nogueira was in one of the local registry offices when a girl of 14 entered, accompanied by a young parda (‘brown’) woman of 18. The girl asked the clerk for a copy of her birth certificate. As he checked the document, the clerk expressed his surprise that the girl had been declared as preta (‘black’) by her father. He then asked an older man who had just arrived whether he considered the girl to be preta (‘black’). The man replied no. Handing the certificate to the girl, the clerk asked her to tell her father that she “isn’t black” and remarked to the researcher that she was not even parda (‘brown’) like the young woman who accompanied her. She was branca (‘white’)!

Nogueira relates and analyses numerous situations of this kind that made explicit people’s use of phenotype, or racial appearance, to classify themselves or others according to nuances of colour and other physiognomic traits. By focusing primarily on racial appearance, this system of classification produces a wealth of nuances and considerable classificatory fluidity. As the classificatory limits for each colour gradation are vague, the identification of a person’s colour also becomes to some extent situational: in other words, it may vary in accordance with other variables like status, social proximity, level of education and even the colour of the observer classifying the other person. ‘Colour,’ understood as a metonym for racial appearance, emerges as a category of thought that expresses a classificatory option (it is not, for example, ancestry that matters most). At the same time, the decision to consider someone branco (white), mulato more or less escuro (a person of mixed-race more or less dark), or preto (black) resulted from the intersection of a person’s appearance with other social criteria that were equally pertinent to defining the actual situation. In this way, social discrimination could coexist with personal intimacy in this relational system of ‘racial’ classification. The concept of trait prejudice identifies the insidious type of racism revealed in Nogueira’s research.

The comparison of the social trajectory of European immigrants and their descendants with that of ‘persons of colour’ from the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1988 to the 1940s also enabled Nogueira to demonstrate that racial trait prejudice could not be reduced to class prejudice. The local social structure had been completely permeable to the influx of immigrants, especially Italians, the group with the largest social and cultural influence in Itapetininga. The five decades of data analysed by Nogueira demonstrated how this group, initially concentrated in the more disadvantaged sections of the population, rose to the middle and dominant classes in the same proportion as the white descendants of the region’s earlier Portuguese colonizers. The situation, however, proved very different for the population of colour. Like the immigrants, this population benefitted from the expansion of elementary education in the first half of the twentieth century. However, at higher levels of education, people of colour, especially pretos (black people), became increasingly rare.

An important detail: the social rise of immigrants occurred with or without marriage to descendants of the Portuguese, while, in the case of people of colour, marriage with whites (whatever their ancestry) was a recurrent feature. Contrary to the experience of immigrants, there was no independent rise of ‘coloured families’ within local society. Persons of colour were individually able to rise usually through marriage with white people, whether, as Nogueira indicates, to favour their own social rise, or to consolidate a social status already achieved, or because identification with the middle and dominant classes entailed the interiorization of the latter’s sexual and aesthetic ideals.

Under these conditions, branqueamento, ‘whitening,’ emerged as a perverse effect of a classificatory system that accentuated existing inequalities in the social structure. Each social achievement of persons of colour as individuals was absorbed within one or two generations by the white group and, with each generation, darker people – those affected most by trait prejudice – could rely only on their own efforts in making their way, as though other people of their colour had never before taken the same path.

At a conscious level, so to speak, Brazil had developed an egalitarian ideology that nonetheless concealed a subtle but active form of racial prejudice: trait prejudice. This meant that the work of elucidation and acceptance of the existence of trait prejudice was a fundamental step for the development of strategies to combat racism in the country. An idea that remains as lucid as it is contemporary.

The brilliant “Preconceito racial de marca e preconceito racial de origem” (Racial trait prejudice and racial origin prejudice) (1985c), presented in 1954, results from these two previous field research experiences – the research carried out during his doctoral period in Chicago between 1945 and 1947, and the research undertaken in Itapetininga between 1947 and 1952, concluded in the context of the race relations project sponsored by UNESCO. The essay synthesizes the dynamic of race relations in Brazil and the United States during the mid-twentieth century in twelve contrasting points. Racism is explored in the context of the history of the societies in which it develops, seen as a fact to be integrated into the dynamic of social life as a whole. It was neither cause nor effect of a pre-existing social structure, but an active discriminatory social conduct that produced long-term and harmful effects on social structure and organization. Nogueira does not set out to determine better or worse, more or less damaging, modalities of racial prejudice. All of them, Nogueira asserts, are equally noxious. His comparison primarily aims to elucidate the social dynamic and cultural characteristics of each form of racism. The intention is to correlate the way of thinking difference and establishing distance between social groups with the set of discriminatory conducts and procedures encountered in the United States and Brazil. In Nogueira’s view, this deeper understanding could also help define appropriate strategies for combatting racism in the two countries.

As we have seen, trait prejudice in Brazil elects the phenotype, racial appearance, as the criterion for discrimination. The classificatory range expands into innumerable gradations that consider not just nuances of colour – negro (black), mulato (mulatto), mulato claro or escuro (more or less dark), pardo (brown), branco (white) – but also physiognomic features like nose, lips, eye colour or hair type. This means that the conception of white and non-white varies enormously from individual to individual, very often within the same family or the same social group, from class to class, region to region. This insidious prejudice, seldom made explicit through direct attitudes, discriminates through a mechanism of shunning.

Nogueira offers us some examples of this kind of shunning. Competing on equal terms for a job vacancy (as in the case studied by the author of the adverts in São Paulo newspapers), the black or dark-skinned person would always be placed at a disadvantage, generally being shunned – even when on equal terms of merit – by the choice of a lighter-skinned person instead, a situation with moral and material costs, causing suffering and anguish. A recreational club might also oppose the admission of a person of colour with more resistance than the entry of a white individual, even when their socioeconomic condition is equivalent. However, ‘an exception’ can always be made if the person of colour ‘counterbalances’ this ‘disadvantage’ through an undeniable superiority in intelligence, education, economic status, diplomacy and perseverance. In this type of prejudice, Nogueira indicates, personal relations of friendship or admiration frequently cross the boundaries of the trait; awareness of discrimination is intermittent; the discriminated group, being less well defined, tends to develop more individualized reactive strategies. The etiquette of race relations derived from the functional dynamic of this insidious form of racism also tends to control the behaviour of the discriminating group so as to avoid the susceptibility or humiliation of the discriminated group.

The situation in the United States contrasted strongly with the Brazilian case. There, origin prejudice elects ancestry as its criterion of discrimination. Whatever the presence of members of the discriminating or discriminated groups among the ancestors of a mixed-race person, the latter would always be classified as a member of the discriminated group. The marriage of a white person to a black person, even in the case of a son or daughter having the appearance of the white (discriminating) population, did not imply the child’s incorporation into the latter group. In the United States, ‘Negros’ (the term used in the US at the time) were all those recognized as such in their home community, irrespective of their physical appearance. Straight hair, light-coloured eyes and pale skin did not remove someone from their classification among the discriminated group. This prejudice did not work by shunning, as in the Brazilian case, but by unconditional exclusion through explicit mechanisms of segregation. When Nogueira was in the United States, racial segregation was still legal (and would only cease to be so in the 1960s) and the many restrictions imposed on the black group weighed equally heavily on all people deemed to be black. A professional with the highest university qualification and a poor person would find themselves subject to the same restrictions whenever they used segregated social spaces, whether hospitals, clubs, bars, schools, waiting rooms, train stations, bathrooms, private spaces in airports, or residential areas. Under these conditions, Nogueira elucidates, prejudice assumed passional emotional characteristics: it transformed into ‘race hatred’, compromising the judgment of black people’s actions by whites and producing a constant and even obsessive awareness of racial discrimination among the discriminated. Friendship, companionship or love affairs between people from the discriminating and discriminated groups were negatively sanctioned. Explicit segregation led to an emphasis on controlling the behaviour of the discriminated in an attempt to contain the open aggression of the discriminators.

Nogueira would return to the theme of race relations and racism at other moments in his intellectual career (as in Nogueira 2015). Nonetheless, the trilogy of works discussed here, produced between 1942 and 1954, encapsulates the originality and brilliance of his contributions on the topic.

IV. The Oracy Nogueira Archive: news and testimony

In a stimulating interview with Gilberto Velho, Howard Becker (1990) comments on how we generally conceive the history of the social sciences as the history of big ideas and concepts, when we should really focus our interest on the history of research, seen as the active field in which these ideas and concepts first surface. The Fundo Oracy Nogueira (Oracy Nogueira Archive) is especially relevant in this respect, converging with the contemporary interest in personal archives.

Nogueira archived the documents related to the different stages of his professional life and what remained of this documentation gathered by him while he was alive became the Oracy Nogueira Archive, which can be conceived as the end product of an ‘autobiographical or life archive’, in the sense suggested by Philippe Artières (1998). In strong affinity with the intellectual tradition that formed him, the autobiographical intent behind Nogueira’s archiving is clearly apparent. [34] Usually, Artières remarks, when we turn to study these archiving practices of the self and highlight the autobiographical intent contained in them, we tend to emphasize their normative and objectifying dimension. But when we physically handle these archives, this dimension immediately gives way to the movement of subjectification that animates them: “To archive one’s life is to contrast the social image with the intimate image of oneself, and in this sense archiving of the self is a practice of self-construction and resistance” (1998, p. 11).

Nogueira appears to have taken upon himself the intimate task of maintaining the relevance and unique quality of his own intellectual formation and even of overcoming the loss of his central institutional reference point – following his departure from ELSP, already in deep financial and academic crisis at the end of the 1950s – while keeping alive the flame of the lines of thought linked to the theoretical traditions of the ‘Chicago School’. [35] However, there are many, many irreparable silences and losses – so many different moments of mediation, help and support – between Nogueira’s decision to store and organize the documents relating to his training, his studies and his intellectual and professional career, and the constitution of the Fundo Oracy Nogueira (Oracy Nogueira Archive). 

I met Oracy Nogueira and his wife Lisette in November 1995 when I visited them in their home on Rua Apinajés in São Paulo city, already in the context of researching Nogueira’s work. Through one of those notable coincidences, Oracy knew something about me due to my book on Kardecist spiritism (Cavalcanti 1983), lent to him years earlier by his friend Cândido Procópio Camargo, himself the author of a work on mediumistic religions (Camargo 1961). A few months later, on February 16, 1996, Nogueira passed away in Cunha.

After his death, I arranged to meet his son José Luiz Nogueira in September, in the same house, now uninhabited, on Rua Apinajés in São Paulo, where I had visited him in November 1995. Dona Lisette had gone to live with another of their children. The family had put the house up for sale and was about to remove the furniture and the rest of the contents. I wanted to track down the original versions of the two unpublished volumes of the Grandes Cientistas Sociais collection, issued by the Ática publishing house, which Florestan Fernandes had asked Oracy to organize at the beginning of the 1990s: one on Emílio Willems and the other on Donald Pierson (mentioned in Nogueira 1985a). After his death, I had contacted the publishers who told me that the material had already vanished after the death of Fernandes in 1995. Still I wanted to search for the volumes. Nogueira had perhaps kept them in his office.

José Luiz knew about my earlier visit to his father and very amicably accompanied me down the stairs that led to the basement where Nogueira’s office had been, already in disuse for some years due to the illness that had left him frail. The walls were covered in damp patches, the books and folders of some of the shelves already entirely destroyed by the moisture. José Luiz explained to me that he was on his lunch break but had a work commitment and, to my surprise, said to me casually: “I have to go now. Feel free to search for this material. Just take the key and when you leave, give it to the neighbour please”. There I was left alone, in the oppressive silence of the cellar office. I turned my pullover into a mask to protect my breathing. As well as the damp, the environment, undisturbed for a long time, was full of dust and mildew. Where were the originals of the volumes on Pierson and Willems? There was a room with steel bookshelves on all the walls, filled with books and folders. Another small room housed a work table, a typewriter and chair, while a larger room to the rear had two long tables and some low shelving on a side wall. I spent some time searching the shelves in the first room before I summoned the courage to venture into the room at the back. There, on one of the side shelves, I found two damp cardboard boxes, labelled ‘Pierson’ and ‘Willems.’ I removed the typed sheets and everything else inside the boxes. I would soon discover that they also contained the correspondence exchanged by Nogueira with the authors and the autobiographies he had requested from each. I took the two folders. It made no sense to leave that material there. I climbed the stairs, turning the improvised mask back into a pullover, closed the front door and handed the key over to the next-door neighbour as instructed. I walked down the street looking for a taxi, the treasure in my arms. I telephoned José Luiz, telling him that I had found the material relating to the volumes I had been looking for and checked that I could take it with me. Anything I eventually did with the material would, of course, be with his full knowledge and permission. However, as soon as I arrived back in Rio de Janeiro, I could not stop thinking: what would be the fate of those books and folders which I had not yet touched?

I went back to this office for a full day at the end of 1996, this time in the company of José Luiz Nogueira, helping him separate the books and objects that interested the family from material which was of interest to the social sciences. The house had already been sold and needed to be released to the new owners. Those files in a good state and many books came under my care at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The documental material came to constitute the Fundo Oracy Nogueira (Oracy Nogueira Archive), [36] transferred by the family with my mediation to the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz/Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in 2013, where it is now available for public consultation.

The archive contains more than 2500 documents and is organized in eight series: Personal Material, Correspondence, Grandes Cientistas Sociais Collection, Photographs, Institutional Reference, Research Themes, Texts, Archive Record. The series are divided into subseries and the latter subdivided into different dossiers. [37]

By illuminating the fertile period of the Brazilian social sciences between the 1940s and 1960s, the Oracy Nogueira Archive interests the entire scientific community. As I stated at the outset, Nogueira’s work remains open and invites researchers to future incursions.


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[1This article was translated from Portuguese by David Rodgers.

[2The Free School of Sociology and Politics of São Paulo was created in 1933; the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of the University of São Paulo in 1934; and the National Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Brazil (today the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) in 1939. Corrêa (1987) calls our attention to the key role performed in supporting the expansion of the social sciences in the country by the large-scale research projects pursued between the 1930s and 1960s through partnerships between Brazilian centres and universities, US universities, and international support agencies.

[3Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease, today endemic, identified in 1882 with the discovery of its causal agent by the scientist Robert Koch. It was controlled globally at an epidemic level following proof of the effectiveness of combined treatment with four antibiotics discovered between the 1950s and 1960s. The disease, however, remains active in Brazil. A WHO bulletin consulted on March 24, 2020 reports that annually more than a million people still die of the disease worldwide. Prior to the discovery of treatment with antibiotics, combating TB required the isolation of the sick in specialized hospitals and care centres. One such treatment centre was located in the town of Campos do Jordão in the mountainous region of the state of São Paulo where Nogueira did field research for his master’s dissertation and another treatment centre was located in the town of São José dos Campos in the same region, where Nogueira, himself a TB patient in 1936-1938, was isolated for treatment.

[4This essay was published in English as “Skin color and social class” in Plantation Systems of the New World (1959), and in it the expression “preconceito racial de marca” was translated as “race prejudice of mark”. However, here we opt for the word ‘trait’ – implying feature, characteristic, attribute, quality – since this better synthetizes Nogueira’s conceptualization.

[5The creation of the Oracy Nogueira Archive was coordinated by myself between 1996 and 2012, working with a team of undergraduate students at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IFCS/UFRJ). In 2013, the archive was transferred to the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (COC/Fiocruz), Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, where it is open to consultation (www.arch.coc.fiocruz.br). The archive inventory and diverse works by and about the author can also be found at the website www.marialauracavalcanti.com.br

[6Cunha is the municipality referred to in the studies of Emílio Willems (1961). On this point I turn to the dense ‘Introduction’ to Nogueira (1985a), to the documentation available in the Oracy Nogueira Archive and to his testimony to Mariza Corrêa, available in Cavalcanti (1995).

[7In 1930, a coup d’état overthrew President Washington Luís and brought Getúlio Vargas to power, where he would remain until 1945. On July 9, 1932, under the leadership of the state of São Paulo, an armed rebellion was launched, known as the Constitutionalist Revolution, since it opposed Getúlio Vargas’s provisional government and supported a constituent assembly. The movement was defeated on October 2 the same year. The date of its inception is still celebrated each year by the state of São Paulo.

[8On the Free School of Sociology and Politics, see Kantor et al. 2009; Limongi 1989. Concerning this initial period of institutionalization of the social sciences in the country, see Azevedo 1984, Schaden 1984, Candido 1958, Castro Faria 1984, 1993, Corrêa 1987, Peirano 1981, 1994, Miceli 1989, 1995, Villas-Boas 2006.

[9On the role performed by Pierson in the constitution of the social sciences in Brazil, see Pierson 1987, Maio 2015, Lippi 1995, Vila Nova 1998, Peixoto 1989, Corrêa 1987. On Pierson’s conception of the scope of sociology, see Pierson 1949.

[10The Oracy Nogueira Archive contains the correspondence exchanged by them between 1944 and 1994 (Sub-series 3.2, dossier 1). On the Pierson-Nogueira relationship, see Cavalcanti 1999.

[11At the beginning of the 1990s, Nogueira organized two volumes for the Grandes Cientistas Sociais collection coordinated by Florestan Fernandes. These contained selected texts with an introduction by himself, one on Donald Pierson and the other on Emílio Willems. The autobiographies of these two authors are included with the correspondence exchanged between them. The two volumes were never published, however, as the collection was interrupted by Fernandes’s death in 1995 (Oracy Nogueira Archive – Series 3).

[12The department split into two in 1929, while always maintaining a close collaboration over the future decades. On the distinct intellectual traditions that became known under the rubric of the ‘Chicago School,’ see Coulon 2005, Valladares 2005, Smith 1988, Velho 1999.

[13This book was subsequently published in Portuguese as Brancos e pretos na Bahia (Pierson 1945a).

[14The contemporary relevance of this vision of university formation in the social sciences accentuates the pioneering quality of his work. Pierson stimulated the translation and dissemination of the national and international output of the social sciences, maintained an intense network of intellectual relations, and supported students undertaking doctorates at centres of excellence abroad. See Pierson 1945b and 1948, Lippi 1995. He also participated in the direction of the journal Sociologia with Nogueira. On the latter periodical, see Alves 1993, Jackson 2004, Almeida and Silva 2015.

[15See Anuários da Escola Livre de Sociologia e Política de São Paulo de 1943, 1944, 1945.

[16Along with his supervisor, Nogueira’s master’s dissertation committee was composed of Herbert Baldus, Emilio Willems, Mário Wagner Vieira da Cunha (1939) and Octavio da Costa Eduardo (1948). Virginia Leone Bicudo (2010) and Gioconda Mussolini (1980) also qualified alongside Nogueira in this first group of master’s students at ELSP.

[17Concerning Nogueira’s departure from ELSP, see Nogueira 1985a. Pierson left ELSP in 1952, when he began research on the São Francisco river valley, which would bring him back to the country for another two years between 1952 and 1955 (Pierson 1972).

[18As Maio (1999) points out, in 1950 the anthropologist Alfred Métraux, possessing ample experience of research with indigenous and black groups in South and Central America, had become director of the recently created Race Relations Sector of UNESCO’s Department of Social Sciences and took charge of the project’s design and complex assemblage. Diverse researchers in different Brazilian urban centres – Recife (Pernambuco), Salvador (Bahia), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), São Paulo and Itapetininga (São Paulo) – participated in the project, taken as a landmark in the study of race relations by the Brazilian social sciences, both for recognizing the existence of racism in the country and for the diversity of theoretical paradigms and approaches through which race relations were approached.

[19In 1947, soon after returning from the United States, Nogueira joined a research programme run by ELSP in conjunction with the Industrial Social Service (SESI), where he met Cândido Procópio Ferreira de Camargo (1922-1987), who also taught at ELSP and who became a friend. With Camargo and Esdras Borges Costa (2013) (1929-2013), Nogueira would participate at the end of the 1960s in a research project on the Brazilian Northeast, sponsored by the World Council of Churches (a Protestant entity) and the Institut d’Études Socio-religieuses (a European Catholic entity). Nogueira’s involvement resulted in the text “O Brasil e o Nordeste” (Brazil and the Northeast) (Nogueira 1968).

[20These lectures were typed up by José Albertino Rodrigues (1928-1992), then his assistant and student at ELSP (Nogueira 1992b).

[21The São Paulo Folklore Commission (Comissão Paulista de Folclore) was created in 1948, and until 1976 was led by the intellectual and folklorist Rossini Tavares Lima, a native of Itapetininga, São Paulo.

[22On studies of community and education, see Consorte 1997; on studies of community and family, see Fukui 1985.

[23Apropos this area of studies, see Bonelli and Donatoni 1996.

[24In 1970, Nogueira transferred to the Department of Social Sciences of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences, occupying the chair in “research methods and techniques.”

[25The English and Spanish versions of “Preconceito de Marca e preconceito de origem” were published in the journal Vibrant, vol. 5. n. 1, in 2008, with a brief introduction by myself. “Pretos e Mulatos entre as classes médias” (Blacks and mulattos among the middle classes) resulted from research conducted by Nogueira in 1985 at the University of São Paulo and among his own network of relations. This research was translated into English, with annotations and editorial review by myself, the work was published in Vibrant, vol, 12, n. 2, 2015, again accompanied by an introduction written by myself (Cavalcanti 2015). It remains unpublished in Portuguese.

[26This second edition of Vozes was organized by myself, completed with an introduction (Cavalcanti 2009a) and the incorporation of the iconography and documentary material referring to the book’s reception at the time of its first edition in 1955 (Oracy Nogueira Archive, Sub-series 6.4 – dossiers 1 to 3).

[27The primary references for the use of personal documents to access the individual’s actions and mental life from their subjective viewpoint are Blumer (1939) and Gordon Allport (1942).

[28Here it is worth citing Nogueira’s use of the concept of social sanction and Radcliffe-Brown’s classic “Taboo” (1973), first published in 1939. Radcliffe-Brown taught at ELSP for 3 years and was Nogueira’s teacher. The history of the anthropologist’s activities in Brazil still lies dormant in the ELSP archives, awaiting due attention from researchers.

[29The 1943 edition of Thomas Mann’s novel was part of the research bibliography, along with La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas and Floradas na Serra by Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, which provides an insight into the scope of the author’s work. For a social history of tuberculosis, see Bertolli Filho 2001.

[30The sociologist Yves Winkin (Winkin and Leeds-Hurvitz, 2013), speaking at a seminar held at the Postgraduate Program in Sociology and Anthropology of IFCS/UFRJ in 1996, pointed out that Goffman also completed his postgraduate studies in the second half of the 1940s at the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Chicago.

[31It is worth observing that when organizing the book Tanto preto quanto branco (Nogueira 1985), Oracy Nogueira planned to publish the trilogy of his studies on race relations in chronological order, representing the maturation of his thought. The text of the 1952 “Report,” however, was too long and was eventually dropped from the book for editorial reasons (Nogueira, 1998).

[32Nogueira (1985a) makes extensive reference to this period. Course programmes and works by the author, along with many of his annotations, projects, correspondences and diaries, can be found in the Oracy Nogueira Archive, Sub-Series 6.3, dossier 1 and Sub-series 5.4 dossiers 1 to 8.

[33The resulting report was published in instalments in the journal Anhembi in 1954 and 1955. It was also published with alterations in Relações raciais entre negros e brancos em São Paulo (Racial relations between blacks and whites in São Paulo), a volume edited by Florestan Fernandes and Roger Bastide in 1955, which combined the works by the São Paulo academics involved in the UNESCO research. It was republished in 1998 by the USP publishing house, with an editorial review, introduction and annotations by myself, as Preconceito de marca: as relações raciais em Itapetininga (Trait prejudice: racial relations in Itapetininga).

[34For Artières (op. cit.), autobiography is the most complete practice of life archiving since in it we choose and order the things that define the meaning we wish to give to our own lives. The discussion on archival research and archiving practices in the social sciences goes far beyond the limits of this text (Castro 2008, Cunha 2005). Here I simply provide a brief presentation of the history of the creation of the Oracy Nogueira Archive and an indication of the wealth of its content.

[35These lines of thought became sidelined in the Brazilian intellectual context between the end of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, at least, when the Marxist or Marxist-functionalist perspective was dominant. This hiatus in the social sciences began to be surpassed in the 1980s with the valorisation of the multiparadigmatic nature of the social sciences in the context of the redemocratization of Brazilian society. Surveys of the state of the art in Brazilian anthropology in the 1970s, like those of Melatti (1984) and Oliveira (1986), did not consider the fertile imbrication of sociology and anthropology fostered by training at ELSP over the 1940s and 1950s as part of this disciplinary field. In the 1970s, Gilberto Velho (2002, 1981, 1978) played a decisive role in the revival of this potent intellectual tradition that would inspire his entire work. In the 1980s, Oracy Nogueira also emerged as an inspirational source for “Digressão: a fábula das três raças ou o problema do racismo à brasileira” (Digression: the fable of the three races or the problem of Brazilian-style racism) by Roberto DaMatta (1987).

[36With the support of the directorate of the Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences (IFCS) and the Postgraduate Program in Sociology and Anthropology (PPGSA) many books and documents reached IFCS in March 1997. After being cleaned and catalogued, the books were incorporated into the collection of the Marina de Vasconcelos Library of IFCS/UFRJ in 1998. The documents, following cleaning, were also gradually catalogued and classified, constituting the Oracy Nogueira Archive.

[37Some series are especially rich. I rapidly cite Series 5, Institutional Reference as an example that contains documents relating to the main institutions of Nogueira’s professional career, and contains the subseries 5.1: Free School of Sociology and Politics; 5.2: University of Chicago; 5.3: Brazilian Centre of Educational Research; 5.4: USP. In subseries 5.1 are found, for instance, the lectures typed in English for the course ‘Race and Culture’ taught by Donald Pierson at ELSP between the 1940s and the start of the 1950s (Florestan Fernandes, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and Nogueira himself took the course). In the same series, subseries 5.2 contains the programmes (Evereth Hugues, Louis Wirth, Blumer were among his professors) and course works of Nogueira during his PhD at the University of Chicago, and especially research notes and documentary material made by Nogueira among black groups during his stay in the United States between 1945-1947. Series 6, Research Themes, is another archive worthy of the attention of historians, containing documents from the town of Cunha in the nineteenth century, since the family of Casemiro da Rocha, the biographical subject in Nogueira’s final research (1992a), donated his personal archive to Nogueira. These are brief examples of many of the unexplored research possibilities. Series 8, Archive Record, documents the stages in the Archive’s creation, including all those who have researched it and published findings on its contents between 1997 and 2012.