In the City of Women: The Life and Work of Ruth Landes

Jamie Lee Andreson

Africana Research Center
Pennsylvania State University

2021

Télécharger en pdf
Pour citer cet article

Andreson, Jamie Lee, 2021. “In the City of Women: The Life and Work of Ruth Landes”, in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris.

URL Bérose : article2218.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)

American anthropologist Ruth Landes (1908-1991), a disciple of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, did ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil from 1938 to 1939 and contributed to the development of Afro-American Studies and Feminist Anthropology. Her work that had the greatest impact was the dynamic narrative ethnography, The City of Women (1947), published in Brazil as A Cidade das Mulheres (1967), which documented the lives of prominent head priestesses of Candomblé temples and argued that the religion was a matriarchy, based on the prominence of Black women’s leadership and community reverence for the priestesses as Mothers. Her close collaboration with Brazilian colleague Edison Carneiro granted her privileged access to research sites and subjects, producing an historical archive of Candomblé still available at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the Smithsonian Museum, though her research approach and relationships in the field were considered scandalous by prominent male colleagues, who negatively impacted her career opportunities in the United States. Nevertheless, her legacy remains strong in Brazil both in academia and among Candomblé practitioners themselves. [1]

Anthropological Beginnings

Ruth Schlossberg was born in 1908 in New York City to a Russian Jewish immigrant family. Her father, Joseph, was a militant socialist linked to the Zionist movement and worked with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACW) Union (Cole, 2003, p. 24). After graduating in Sociology from New York University in 1928, Ruth worked as a social worker in the majority Black neighborhood of Harlem during the cultural boom of the Harlem Renaissance. She completed her master’s in social work before pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Columbia University from 1931 to 1935. Ruth’s upbringing in New York as a child of Jewish and socialist immigrants aligned her with marginalized communities at an early age, informing her later anthropological work. She frequented a temple alongside Caribbean followers of Marcus Garvey and socialized with Black Jewish populations, forming alliances between the two communities (Landes, 1967a). She was trained in anthropology during her doctorate at Columbia University, with the guidance of Franz Boas (1858-1942) and Ruth Benedict (1887-1948).

In 1929, at 20 years of age, Ruth Landes married the son of a family friend, taking his last name, and divorced a few years later. This failed marriage led her to question the institution and the gender roles expected of her as a white middle-class American woman in the era of the “New Woman” and First Wave Feminism, a movement led primarily by white women in the United States who fought for their right to vote and sought greater independence outside of the home. With a Jewish and working-class background, Landes was considered to be one of Ruth Benedict’s “deviant” students, reportedly her preferred advisees (Cole, 2002). In 1932, under the guidance of Benedict, she began field research among Native American communities – the Ojibwa, Sioux and Potawatomi – in the United States and Canada. Landes’ research among the Ojibwa centered around her collaboration with the community’s storyteller, an elder woman named Maggie Wilson. Wilson shared stories, legends and traditions of the Ojibwa people with Landes, who expressed interest in the role of women and the gender dynamics of the tribe. The two formed an intense collaboration and lasting friendship, in part due to their shared experiences as divorced women (Cole, 2009). The works that resulted from this research, Ojibwa Sociology (1937) and The Ojibwa Woman (1938) presented the experiences that women faced in native communities and reproduced passages of Wilson’s storytelling as the principal source of her analysis. The ethnography presents cases where women assume masculine roles and gain respect and authority. In the book, Landes argued that women were generally considered inferior to men in the Ojibwa culture, especially in the religious sphere. The data found in the Ojibwa research differs greatly from what she later encountered in the Candomblé temples of Bahia. The most influential books of her career, The Ojibwa Women (1938) and The City of Women (1947) documented women’s voices and brought “to light the previously ignored roles women, as individuals, play in society”. [2]

Landes studied with the most influential founders of twentieth-century U.S. Anthropology during her doctoral training at Columbia University. Under the guidance of Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas, she learned anthropological research methodology around the same time as prominent colleagues Margaret Mead (1901-1978), Edward Sapir (1884-1939), Gladys Reichard (1893–1955), Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) and Alfred Kroeber (1876-1960). One important aspect of the “Boasian” project, otherwise pursued by Franz Boas’ students in various directions, documented and classified the remnants of cultures that were supposedly disappearing with the advancement of modernity and colonization. Boas highlighted that each society was a product of its own history, and that each individual culture had to be placed “in their own particular histories and environmental settings” (Cole, 2003, p. 50). The ultimate goal of anthropological inquiry was to understand what was called “the native point of view”, something that Landes as an ethnographer took very seriously (Cole, 2003, p. 51). The concept of race and all forms of biological determinism were undermined by Boasian anthropology. Boas and his students transformed the field in the United States by using a plural concept of culture and defending a deeper understanding of the complexities of history, culture and language within all societies—including the so-called primitive.

Prominent Brazilian sociologist, Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987), also trained with Franz Boas in New York. Freyre created a sociological model for Brazilian racial miscegenation as a composition of specific cultural contributions from Indigenous America, Africa and Europe. Gilberto Freyre continued to operate with the notion of race, though he made it coexist with the concept of culture (Benzaquen de Araújo, 1994). His theories, originally developed in the 1930s, later led to the popular notion of a “racial democracy” in Brazil, often used as a counterpoint to the harsh racial segregation and discrimination in the United States (Pallares-Burke, 2018). Landes was exposed to these ideas during her training at Columbia and Fisk University in the state of Tennessee, prior to her research in Brazil. [3] Prior to Landes, Columbia had already sent several students to Brazil, particularly to study native populations in the Amazon, including Charles Wagley (1913-1991), Buell Quain (1912-1939) and William Lipkind (1904-1974). Landes was sent to Brazil “for the ostensible purpose of learning why this vast land of mixed-bloods – white, Indian and African mixtures – showed no problems of prejudice and racism”. [4] The notion of racial miscegenation elaborated by Freyre (building on the work of colleague Rüdiger Bilden) as a positive element in the development of Brazilian culture already informed what Landes anticipated in her trip to Bahia and persisted in her ethnographic analysis of race relations in The City of Women (1947).

Landes’ publications (1940a, 1940b, 1947) from her research among Candomblé temples in Brazil from 1938 to 1939 created a basis for future debates on gender and sexuality in Afro-Brazilian religions. She invoked the concept of matriarchy in her work on Brazil to document Black women’s power in the Candomblé religion but did not theorize the term in relation to the nineteenth century notions of “mother-right”, particularly from the seminal work by Johann Jakob Bachofen (1815-1887), Das Mutterechet (1861), or matrilineal descent as characterized by Engels and Morgan. (Bachofen, 1967 [1861]; Morgan, 1870; Morgan, 1963 [1877]; Engels, 1972 [1884]; Fee, 1973). Landes adopted an idiosyncratic use of the term as represented through ethnographic particularism. As a “deviant” in her discipline, she characterized Candomblé as a “cult matriarchate” to refer to women’s authority and leadership in the Candomblé religion (Landes, 1940a; Cole, 2003). Landes’ conclusions on Black female leadership and male homosexuality in Candomblé were dismissed and undermined by her anthropological contemporaries, principally Melville Herskovits (1895-1963) and Arthur Ramos (1903-1949) who were the active gatekeepers of Afro-American studies at that time in both the United States and Brazil (Herskovits, 1947; Ramos, 1939, 1942). Nevertheless, the 1967 publication of The City of Women in Brazilian Portuguese (A Cidade das mulheres) reinvigorated the debates on matriarchy in Candomblé around the time that Feminist writers debated the possibilities of matriarchy as a social model to advance the global struggle for women’s rights (Webster, 1975; Rosaldo, Lamphere and Bamberger, 1974; Rohrlich, 1975; Rich, 1997).

Landes’ observations were intensely novel for the time (Fry, 2002, p. 23), and as Mariza Corrêa (2002) stated, “Landes exposed a gender fracture in the analysis of Afro-Brazilian cults that still deserves attention today” (p. 150). [5] As an ethnographer, Landes considered the role of the individual in society and within the studied culture to be the most important. She reported on the experiences of her interlocutors in the field, as a form of anthropological translation. Landes, however, “never fully articulated her theory of culture, which remained implicit in her work”. As Sally Cole puts it, “… she worked with an intuitive understanding of cultural processes as dynamic, contradictory, and contested. As a result, she produced multivocal, unruly texts abounding in rich descriptions” (Cole, 2003, p. 7). Later in her life, Landes explained her method with research subjects in Brazil in the following terms:

Too often the writers overlook the individualities of their informants, as personalities; the methodological implication is, then, that all are alike….Perhaps because writers here think in terms of ‘strategy’ rather than of ‘creativity’…I myself cannot name the Afro-Brazilian world I knew without instantly hearing, seeing, smelling the vivid actors in it. [6]

After receiving her doctoral degree, Landes arrived in the state of Tennessee in August of 1937, with the objective to amplify her knowledge of Black Americans at Fisk University, in the racially segregated Southern United States at a historically Black college, where prominent Black thinkers and scholars like W.E.B. Du Bois had attended. Through the winter until April 1938, she was very productive, teaching classes, reading proofs of her book The Ojibwa Woman (1938), revising an article called “Negro Jews in Harlem” for publication (1967), finishing the Potawatomi manuscript (1970), and conducting library research in preparation for Brazil (Cole, 2003, p. 150). She had never previously lived under the racial segregation of the Southern United States. She was one of the few female scholars to work with the male founders of Afro-American Studies in the United States, including Donald Pierson, Lorenzo Dow Turner, Charles Johnson, Robert Park, Rüdiger Bilden and Melville Herskovits. Her preparation at Fisk was recommended by Boas and Benedict from the Anthropology Department at Columbia University and her experience there defined her theoretical ties and professional alliances within the field of studies, before conducting her research in Bahia.

Upon arriving at Fisk University, Landes was supported by Rüdiger Bilden (1893-1980), professor at the Institute of Social Sciences at Fisk University, who had also conducted research in Brazil. Bilden, along with Landes and her colleagues, worked under the direction of Charles Johnson on a project to amplify studies of Afro-Brazilians and race relations in Brazil. Rüdiger Bilden was a “forgotten interlocutor” of Gilberto Freyre in the development of his theories presented in the famous work, Casa Grande e Senzala (1933), translated into English as The Masters and the Slaves (1946). He collaborated with Freyre in Rio de Janeiro in 1926, when conducting research on the influence of slavery in the development of Brazil (Pallares-Burke, 2005, p. 309). Bilden never published the results of the research he started at Columbia University as a colleague of Freyre and a student of Boas in 1922, though at that time he was a respected specialist in the field (Pallares-Burke, 2005; 2020).

Comparative studies of race between Brazil and the United States began developing around the turn of the twentieth century. Black American writers such as W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), Franklin Frazier (1894-1962) and Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972) studied Brazil to evaluate the supposed “racial paradise” and to make comparisons with the racial climate in the United States (Hellwig, 1992). North American scholars traveled to Brazil, and particularly the state of Bahia, as the most visited field site to debate contested issues of race in the Americas. Generally, in the early twentieth century scholars projected that Afro-Brazilians were being absorbed by the white race as a success of the “whitening” policy (embranquecimento), and that there was no prejudice based on skin color in terms of personal development (Roosevelt, 1992, p. 32; Skidmore, 1974). Franklin Frazier affirmed that “Brazil did not have a race problem” in comparison to the United States (Frazier, 1992, p. 161). Lorenzo Dow Turner detailed how many Africans in Brazil, particularly the Yoruba, were from the elite and royal classes of African societies, and even enslaved Africans in Brazil were able to maintain contact and exchange with the African sources to continue practicing cultural manifestations, exemplified through religion, music, food and dance (Turner, 1942). [7] Landes reiterated these ideas in her work, downplaying racial violence, discrimination, and inequalities.

Besides the research developed by Sociologist Donald Pierson from the University of Chicago, and a few travel writers from the previous century, no American anthropologist had directed their studies specifically to African descendants in Bahia before Landes. Donald Pierson researched in Bahia from 1935 to 1937 and was also guided in his fieldwork by the Bahian ethnologist Edison Carneiro (1912-1972). Pierson arrived at Fisk after finishing his research in Bahia at the same time Landes was studying there and he encouraged her to study the roles of the mães-de-santos (Mothers-of-the-saint, or head priestesses) in the Candomblé religion in Bahia. He explained how women were predominant in the Bahian ritual life, but even so, he said that he would not emphasize that aspect in his book, published as Negroes in Brazil: A Study of Race Contact at Bahia (1942) (Cole, 2003, p. 151). From Pierson’s suggestion and other materials consulted at Fisk, Landes began to contemplate the possibility that the Candomblé religion was matriarchal. In an 1970 article, she reflected: “I guessed, from materials Park and Pierson showed me at Fisk, that Black women would figure importantly in Brazil, as they did in the West African Yoruba and Ibo regions, from where they mainly derived” (Landes, 1970a, p. 120).

Ruth Landes was trained among the most prominent and influential anthropologists of her time and developed an approach that focused on individuals through astute observation, especially of women’s position in various social contexts. She was further immersed in the developing field of comparative Afro-American Studies at Fisk University prior to traveling to Brazil, where she was one woman among many men constructing theories and alliances that would define the field of studies for decades to come.

Ruth Landes in Brazil

Landes arrived in Rio de Janeiro by boat in May of 1938 to stay in the city for three months to learn Portuguese, take care of her legal documentation, and then leave for Bahia. In Rio de Janeiro, Landes collaborated with Heloísa Alberto Torres (1895-1977), the director of the National Museum (Museu Nacional) in Rio de Janeiro, which at the time was the institution that coordinated most of the anthropological research in the country, especially projects related to native populations. Heloísa Alberto Torres had advised other anthropologists from Columbia University, including Charles Wagley, Buell Quain and William Lipkind. She had also hosted foreign researchers at the National Museum including Claude Lévi-Strauss, Raimundo Lopes, Luiz de Castro Faria, and maintained intense correspondence with Franz Boas, Ralph Linton, Paul Rivet, and Alfred Métraux. She guided the visiting researchers to complete their official documents and conduct their scientific expeditions (Carvalho, 2002; Corrêa, 2003). Although she conducted a great deal of field research, she did not publish much, but rather emphasized the importance of research practice. According to the Brazilian historian of anthropology, Mariza Corrêa, “Her presence in the Brazilian anthropological scene was significant not because of her administrative acts or the academic works she was unable to accomplish, but for her efforts in training young researchers through field research experience and in contributing to the development of ethnology” (Corrêa, 2003, p. 142). [8]

JPEG - 21.2 kb


Fig. 1

National Museum, Rio de Janeiro, 1939: (From left to right) Edison Carneiro, Raimundo Lopes, Charles Wagley, Heloísa Alberto Torres, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ruth Landes and Luiz de Castro Faria.

Photo reproduced in Corrêa, 2003.

After two months studying Portuguese and acquainting herself with the local scholars in Rio de Janeiro, Landes left to begin her research in Bahia. Landes recalled that the boat she took from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia was run by Germans, who saluted Hitler upon her entering the boat, which had portraits of him up on the walls (Landes, 1994, p. 9). This was especially alarming for Landes given her family’s background as Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Upon arriving in Salvador, she stayed in the best hotel in Bahia, because “there was no provision for housing or entertaining a single, unchaperoned young woman without a family and of independent means” (Landes 1994, p. 10). Soon after her arrival, her clothes and shoes stood out; she was even taken on the street to be a “properly licensed streetwalker” (Landes, 1994, p. 11). The living conditions were very challenging for her, as she suffered from physical and mental health problems during her research in Bahia. In 1970, Landes recalled the sensory experience,

My inflamed sinuses bugged my eyes so far out of my head that I lay for hours each day with icepacks, on medical order. I developed bleeding intestines that were incurable until long after my return to the United States. A year of diarrhea left me gaunt and yellow; the consul’s secretary said that I seemed to lose weight as he looked at me. The resulting anemia took four years to handle. I thought of suicide, though I never really planned it (Landes, 1970a, p. 129).

Such extreme descriptions of discomfort and sickness do not appear in the narrative of The City of Women, though they provide insight into her experience as a single, divorced Jewish American woman conducting research on the eve of the Second World War. Even with the help and guidance of Brazilian colleague Edison Carneiro, Landes faced immense difficulties during over six months of research in Salvador. Arthur Ramos introduced Landes to the Bahian ethnologist and journalist Edison Carneiro to help with her research and accompany her to the Black neighborhoods of Salvador da Bahia. Carneiro became Landes’ main guide and greatly facilitated her field research in the Candomblés. In 1964, Carneiro affirmed of Landes that “nobody, absolutely nobody, literate or not, Brazilian or not, has had so much intimacy with the Candomblés of Bahia” (Carneiro, 1964, p. 225). [9] As an unknown foreigner, Landes would not have had the access to the sacred spaces of the Candomblé temples without Carneiro’s help. Carneiro, a pardo [10] Bahian and scholar trained on the subject, had established relationships with several leaders of Candomblé by the time Landes arrived in 1938 (Rossi, 2015). Soon after meeting Carneiro, Landes wrote to her advisor Ruth Benedict, “All my opportunities and all that I know I owe to a young mulatto named Edison Carneiro… Being a foreigner, a woman, and with a language handicap, I would be in difficulties without him in this country”. [11]

Carneiro supported Landes throughout her research in Bahia and the writing of her ethnography years later, helping her become an important reference in the field of Afro-Brazilian Studies. Their close collaboration also resulted in Landes’ expulsion from Bahia and lasting judgments of their intimate interracial relationship from colleagues, which jeopardized her future career in American Anthropology. A close analysis of the personal correspondences between Landes and Carneiro from 1938 to 1970 clarifies the dynamics of their relationship and allows better comprehension of their close collaboration (Andreson, 2019). Landes’ contributions and legacy were disregarded by many influential colleagues of the time due to various factors including racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, anti-Communism and competition in the field of study (Cole 2003; Park and Park, 1988; Price, 2004). Landes’ contemporaries formed negative perceptions of her based on her close connection to Carneiro, and biased perceptions of their interracial, intimate and scholarly collaboration (Andreson, 2019).

When Landes first met Carneiro, she considered him to be an authority and a colleague, explaining how “he was only twenty-seven years old, but the number and originality of his studies of Brazilian Negroes and Candomblés and the solidity of his reputation had caused me to expect a much older man” (Landes, 1947, p. 13). Landes, who was thirty years old at the time, began working with Carneiro to learn about Candomblé “firsthand” (Landes, 1947, p. 14). Quickly they decided to “pool their resources, their knowledge, their time and observations” (Landes, 1947, p. 35). They spent the next six months together conducting field research in the Candomblés of Salvador and produced substantial research material in the form of photographs, field notes and correspondences.

Carneiro guided Landes with his knowledge of Bahian ethnology and the privileged connections he developed with the Candomblé temples as a journalist and public Bahian intellectual. They generally agreed on the approaches and research methodologies within the field of Afro-Brazilian Studies, which further encouraged their collaboration. In The City of Women, Landes characterized Carneiro’s opinion on Candomblé research, likely criticizing previous Brazilian scholars like Raimundo Nina Rodrigues and Arthur Ramos:

The aristocratic class always condescends... and when some of them decide to study Candomblé, they get their material by calling Negroes into their offices because they’re too proud or too lazy to visit the temples in the country. But you will have to go to them. You can’t expect them to act naturally in an office or a hotel. And they will know you respect them if you go to them. I’ll introduce you (Landes 1947, p. 19).

Carneiro’s position complemented Landes’ regarding the importance of experience and personal connections in the research process. They worked well together and shared an approach to anthropological ethnographic fieldwork that valued participant observation. Landes understood that for foreign researchers, “the ‘field’ is not one’s real life…To Edison, on the contrary “the ‘field’ was his life as well” (Landes 1970a, p. 133). As an academic, a guide to international researchers and an African-descendant from Bahia, Carneiro was particularly valuable as a mediator, “between the Candomblé members and the Bahian elites, converting gradually into a spokesperson and representative of the political and symbolic demands of the Bahian Candomblés, sending his work to a wide audience in the form of articles, news, and stories” (Rossi, 2011, p. 265). [12] He also served as a middleman, “facilitator for intellectuals from different regions of Brazil and the world to access the objects and ethnographic data that, during that time, started to become paradigmatic for the study of race relations and African culture in Brazil and in the New World, as was the case of Bahia” (Rossi, 2011, p. 266). [13]

The personal letters exchanged between Carneiro and Landes clearly indicate an intense romantic relationship and an emotional connection during their time together in Bahia. Much of the academic literature on Landes and Carneiro does not value or examine this aspect of their relationship (Dantas, 1988; Birman, 1998; Healey 1998; Matory, 2005), with the exceptions of Cole (2003), Rossi (2015) and Andreson (2019). I have argued that their intimacy created a fundamental link, which facilitated a more profound and lasting collaboration that impacted the fields of Anthropology and Afro-American Studies in Brazil and the United States (Andreson, 2019). Rather than considering the romantic aspect of their relationship as insignificant, indecent, or shameful as some of their contemporaries did, I take it as an important factor in the formation of their conclusions and production of ethnographic data. Their romance guided them together through what Carneiro called, “so many beautiful days in the Candomblés of Bahia”, [14] which produced the material to compose two of the most classic and widely cited ethnographies of Candomblé; Landes’ The City of Women and Carneiro’s Os Candomblés da Bahia (1948). After Landes left Brazil, Carneiro reflected on their time together in a letter, “You were at the crossroads of my life—and you took my hand and I followed in your direction and we marched together. What happiness you gave me!” [15]

JPEG - 10.8 kb


Fig. 2

Ruth Landes and Edison Carneiro in Salvador, Bahia.

Ruth Landes papers, Photographs, Brazil: Bahian Blacks and Candomblé, Ruth_Landes_01.

JPEG - 275.3 kb


Fig. 3

Ruth Landes at Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá, August 1939.

Ruth Landes papers, Photographs, Brazil: Bahian Blacks and Candomblé, 91-4_0332.

By the 1930s, Carneiro was affiliated with the Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista do Brasil – PCB) and in the communist literary group, the Academia dos Rebeldes (Academy of Rebels). [16] Carneiro’s connection with the Communist party made him a suspect during the authoritarian regime of Getúlio Vargas, which was concerned with the expansion of communism from 1930 to 1945. Because of Landes’ close affiliation with Carneiro, in early 1939, spies from the Federal Police were following Landes around Salvador. She described such occasions in her ethnography and in a letter to Ruth Benedict before fleeing to Rio de Janeiro (Landes, 1947; Cole, 2003, p. 168). Carneiro warned her, “Well, now you know you are dangerous. You are friendly with the wrong people; you must not be seen with Blacks or with university men. Or you’ll end up in jail with us next year!” (Landes, 1994, p. 62) In fact, Ruth Landes did have to flee Bahia before Carnival of 1939 by boat to Rio de Janeiro, because she was already seen as a communist, primarily for working with Carneiro in the Candomblés, and further suspect as a Jew during the rise of Hitler’s global Anti-Semitism, coinciding with increased German immigration to Brazil and European fascist influences in the regime of Dictator Getúlio Vargas. Landes’ proximity to Carneiro both facilitated and complicated her research in Brazil.

Landes left Rio de Janeiro in mid-June 1939, because Ruth Benedict had secured a temporary job for her working on a project called “The Ethos of the Negro in the New World” for the Carnegie Commission, led by Gunnar Myrdal (Cole, 2003, p. 176). She initially wanted to stay in Rio de Janeiro to begin writing the ethnography (Edison Carneiro was living there at the time) but took the job opportunity that ended up delaying her writing process and jeopardizing her future career in Anthropology. [17] She published two influential and controversial articles based on the analysis of her research with Carneiro in Bahia, entitled “The Cult Matriarchate and Male Homosexuality” (Landes, 1940a) and “The Fetishist Cult in Brazil” (Landes, 1940b). Landes also translated an article written by Carneiro, “The Structure of African Cults in Bahia”, which appeared in the Journal of American Folklore in the same year (Carneiro, 1940). Following the four-month position, Landes also worked for the federal government during the Second World War in the President’s Committee on Fair Employment (FEPC) to support the war effort and further her interests in Civil Rights. Her job was to “see that there is no discrimination in employment in war industry or government service because of race, creed, color or national origin” (Landes, 1946a). When Landes returned to the U.S. in 1939, she explained in a letter to Carneiro that she was not producing much scholarship during World War II.

In 1941, the FBI ran a background check on Landes, which was a common practice during the McCarthy era as “the FBI investigated some anthropologists because of their political activism or affiliations with their spouses, parents, or siblings” (Price, 2004, p. 225), whether or not their analyses were Marxist. In Landes’ case, the FBI was concerned with her father’s “radical past” as a socialist labor activist (Price, 2004, p. 228). During the investigation, the FBI interviewed many of Landes’ colleagues and their responses reveal how her academic peers perceived her. A supervisor of the Myrdal project told the FBI that “from her slight contact with Landes, she had gained the impression that she was communistically inclined...mainly from an observation of the applicant’s dress and ideas” (Price, 2004, p. 230). An individual from the University of North Carolina who also worked on the Myrdal Study (Price asserts this was likely Guy Johnson) said, “Her stay in Brazil was cut short by about three or four months by the Brazilian Government… they did not approve [of] the liberal ideology she was spreading in relation to the Negro problem” and that “she was very inaccurate in her work and had the reputation of being rather morally loose” (Price, 2004, p. 230). Price characterized this evaluation as bordering on slander, as Johnson finalized that he would not recommend her for a position (Price, 2004, p. 230). An unidentified anthropologist interviewed at the Bureau of Ethnology also said that he had heard that people in Brazil did not like her “because of her aggressive attitude” (Price, 2004, p. 231). These impressions of Landes reveal how her colleagues perceived her person, dress, work and behavior, as well as their willingness to revert to gossip and unfounded assumptions as proof of her supposed “communistic tendencies” for the FBI, putting her future in jeopardy.

Landes found it difficult to get a good job, in part due to perceptions American colleagues had of her behavior in the field, associating with communists like Carneiro and forming intimate relationships in Black communities. [18] Paired with her “affair” with a Black professor at Fisk University, Landes was considered by some colleagues to be a scandalous, promiscuous and unprofessional woman rather than a serious anthropologist. [19] The rumors surrounding Landes’ time in Brazil affected her relationship with prominent anthropologists of the time, including Margaret Mead and Melville Herskovits. In what appears to be a letter of recommendation, Mead stated, “her most conspicuous deficiencies are in the field of organizing...she is better fitted to be a member of a research team or of a department in which she would be a junior member, than to take the full responsibility”. [20] Sally Cole’s research confirmed that, “Her personal comportment was problematic not only for men but also for some women in the discipline, notably Margaret Mead, who once wrote to Benedict that she wished that Ruth Landes would behave either ‘like a lady’ or in a more ‘routine way’ in academic situations” (October 2, 1939 in Cole, 2003, p. 13). Such obstruction from colleagues left Landes “in New York, for an indefinite period, doing nothing”. [21]

The letters written by Carneiro to Landes are located in the Ruth Landes Papers at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the Smithsonian Museum together with an extensive photo collection of her research in Bahia as well as other field sites she visited throughout her life. From June to October of 1939 Carneiro wrote to Landes at least fifteen times, from Rio de Janeiro to New York. These letters reveal the strong feelings Carneiro had for Landes following her exile from Bahia. Landes’ responses are not present in the archives, so we cannot equally evaluate her feelings on their relationship at that time. Landes prepared her archive for donation to the NAA before her death, and likely included these personal letters intentionally.

Most available letters written by Landes to Carneiro are from 1946, the year she was finalizing her ethnography for publication, and are located in Edison Carneiro’s archive in Rio de Janeiro. [22] It is possible that Carneiro (or his family) did not include the more intimate letters written by Landes in years prior, being that he married Magdalena Carneiro in 1940 and moved to Rio de Janeiro to start a family. The absence of such information makes Carneiro appear as the more active and persistent voice in their romantic relationship. In the letters written by Landes to Carneiro from 1946 to 1948, during the preparation and publication of The City of Women, Landes also leaves clues that reveal her understanding of their relationship, which was lasting and transformative in their lives. Seven years after returning from Brazil, Landes wrote to Carneiro, “after the War I finally got down to the book on Bahia!” [23] During the writing process, the letters reveal that she once again felt close to him, remembering their good times together in Bahia. She asked for help in recalling details, especially about their informants, and Carneiro sent to her several articles and materials for her reference. [24] Despite the strong feelings Carneiro appeared to have had for Landes, he always valued their “beautiful intellectual contact” over their fantastic dreams of marriage and a family. [25]

Landes returned to Brazil one last time in 1966, one year before the translation of The City of Women was published in Brazil by the prestigious press Civilização Brasileira, run by Ênio da Silveira, a communist activist. She visited Rio de Janeiro with her first research project as a tenured professor at McMaster University in Canada, to study urbanization. She was disappointed by her experience, which differed greatly from her time in Bahia twenty-seven years prior. In a letter to a colleague, addressed by Landes as Mr. Marriot—a man who had helped her leave Bahia when facing persecution in 1939—she expressed her feelings about her second trip to Rio: “Now at middle age I’m back briefly to see what’s happened in 27 years. I’ve been in Rio over a month and am appalled. They tell me Bahia is better. My plans are to remain until September, and I wonder how accustomed I’ll grow. (Oddly, my Portuguese remained with me)”. [26] She spent five months in the city and was “shocked by the chaos”, complaining about the filth and the noise, exclaiming, “São Paulo seems even worse”. [27] Landes also visited Edison Carneiro and his family in Rio de Janeiro. It was the first time they had seen each other since she left Brazil in 1939. In her journal, she wrote, “Edison appears so... apathetic, because he’s unhappy!” In their meeting they talked about how “Candomblé has lost its mystic, religious quality... it’s theater now a commercial spectacle”. [28] In her notations, Landes laments how things had changed since her last time in Brazil. She certainly did not encounter the same country, the same religion, or the same person in Carneiro as she did in Bahia decades prior.

In 1970, Landes wrote the last letter to her long-term friend, two years before his death. That year she also publicly reflected on her relationship with Carneiro and their work together in Brazil, in the article “A Woman Anthropologist in Brazil” (1970a):

Never in the history of field work, I am confident, has anyone been more fortunate than I in the association with Edison. Apart from Edison’s repute as a scholar and writer… the fact was that I could not have stirred a step in Bahia without his, a man’s “protection”…I know that the Blacks admitted me because he vouched for me… Edison was the only person I trusted, and I leaned on him entirely (Landes, 1970a, pp. 128-129, 131).

Landes’ confidence in Carneiro and his guidance during her field research and writing process greatly influenced the success of the book The City of Women in both English and Portuguese. He helped her throughout her career and defended her in the face of criticisms from influential, gate-keeping colleagues. The academic studies on Candomblé and the history of Anthropology in Bahia often mention Landes and Carneiro in relation to one another because they published canonical works using overlapping data and reinforcing longstanding conclusions in the field of study. They perpetuated an analysis that accentuated the prestige and superiority of the Nagô (Yoruba-descended houses) led by head priestesses and the inferior status of the Congo-Angola (Bantu-descended) temples, led primarily by male priests (Dantas, 1988; Capone, 2010). The two are linked in the field of Afro-Brazilian Studies as parallel voices, engaged colleagues and close friends. Their relationship was complex, dynamic and shifting over time. It was never simply a fleeting romance or a strictly professional relation. Rather, it was a flexible and at times ambiguous relationship that adapted to changing circumstances given the shifting conditions of life between Brazil and the United States in the mid-twentieth century.

The Impact of The City of Women

The works published by Ruth Landes in the United States (1940a, 1940b, 1947) following her research in Brazil impacted and motivated several fields of study, raising major themes and questions that are still debated today. Her theses on homosexuality and matriarchy created a basis to examine the roles of gender and sexuality in Afro-Brazilian religions. Despite these many advancements in scholarship and the enduring impact of her seminal work The City of Women, her provocations were not well-received by prominent gate-keeping colleagues at the time of their publication.

Landes’s greatest critic was Melville Herskovits, a colleague in Afro-American Studies also trained by Franz Boas a few years before her at Columbia University. His review of her book The City of Women in the journal American Anthropologist (1947) highlights Landes’ “deficiencies” as a researcher, attacking mainly her lack of training, preparation and flawed research methodology, thereby disqualifying her conclusions. Although he recognized her astute eye and detailed characterization of her informants, he complained that Landes did not have adequate preparation to study the Bahian Candomblés and that she established conclusions without training in the African materials on the subject.

Herskovits attacked the central thesis of the book as basically wrong: “the false perspective on the role of men and women in the culture gives the book its misleading title. What Miss Landes does not realize is that the men have places that are quite as important as those of the women” (Herskovits, 1947). Herskovits belittled Landes by referring to her as “miss”, jabbing at her divorced status with an inappropriate and inconsiderate tone for a professional colleague. He also labeled Carneiro as simply an “informant”, negating his professional merit and qualifications, despite having had collaborated with him during academic events and activities while also conducting research in Bahia. Herskovits’ claims about Landes’ lack of preparation and capacity to conduct research in the Bahian context disregards the weight of her doctoral degree, achieved at the same university with the same advisor, as well as the two books she had published prior to researching in Brazil. Herskovits appears incapable of considering, let along empathizing with, the numerous challenges Landes faced as a woman in the field, which called for different behaviors and methods. Instead, Herskovits upheld a universal standard of an anthropological approach that may only have been possible or desirable within the conditions of a white man’s experience, defining professional standards and gatekeeping the discipline. [29]

Over time the rumors about Landes’ time in Brazil circulated and escalated. In Brazil, Arthur Ramos had destroyed Landes’ reputation among colleagues with severe and absurd accusations. She had herself the occasion of denouncing Ramos’ attitude in 1970:

Ramos reiterated over the years in “vulgar, vindictive” articles and in lectures to university students (as three students told me). I had heard verbal reports of all this in the 1940s and 1950s from colleagues residing in São Paulo, London and Kampala in Uganda. To anticipate one of Ramos’ actions by several years, the time came when his written language about me obliged São Paulo’s leading social-science journal to refuse one of his articles, despite established reputation; so the editor told me in New York and so Edison reports (Carneiro, 1964, p. 227). After Ramos’ death a woman colleague in Europe sent word to me that, because of him, it was said I had ‘run a brothel’ in Brazil (Landes 1970a, p. 129).

The criticisms from Ramos and Herskovits were founded in theoretical differences, however, they also deliberately attacked Landes’ personality and her relationship with Edison Carneiro as “methodological problems”. The criticisms about Landes’ character and behavior were more severe than those directed towards Carneiro, who recognized Ramos’ sexist motives when he affirmed that Landes’ method was not scientific: “When we’re dealing with a woman and a beautiful and insinuating woman, the phrase acquires a deliberately distasteful and suspect tone” (1964, p. 223). [30] As pointed out by Carneiro (1964) and Sally Cole (2003), the criticisms were influenced by her choice to study the themes of gender and sexuality, which were considered by Ramos and Herskovits to be inferior, and even embarrassing subjects in Anthropology and Afro-American Studies at that time. Furthermore, her narrative style of ethnography, which was highly innovative for its time, was not taken seriously as a scientific study.

As an analysis of race and gender in Brazil, Ruth Landes’ works greatly impacted scholarship, sparking several debates in the Anthropology of Candomblé and Afro-American Studies that still resonate today. According to Beatriz Dantas, Ruth Landes perceived the deployment of the Black Bahian as a symbol in the national project of constructing a cultural and racial democracy (1988, p. 206). However, her book presented a false notion of equality for Afro-Brazilians, which ended up masking the racism and cultural intolerance directed towards Candomblé, making them even more difficult to combat (Dantas, 1988, p. 206). Mariza Corrêa (2002) highlighted how “despite the emphasis that we retrospectively attribute to the racial issue in her book, I believe that she will also be remembered as a fine observer of details that, after all, are a mark of a good anthropologist” (p. 16). [31] Landes’ evaluations of race and gender given the ethnographic context of Candomblé are generalized and at times, utopian. However, her descriptions and observations of the temples she visited favor the practitioners, as her book approached the subject with “delicateness”, rather than a “prejudiced” vision present in the writings of other foreign researchers (Nóbrega and Echeverria, 2006, p. 103). As Landes’ biographer Sally Cole aptly characterized: “Seeking both to be accepted in the discipline and to challenge orthodoxies, her ethnography is, as a result, often contradictory or ambiguous. Her great strength was that she had an acute eye and the audacity to record what she saw” (2003, p. 13). Consequently, Landes’ ethnography and archive of research materials from Brazil is particularly valuable and of interest to current practitioners of Candomblé in Salvador. She researched in temples and recorded historical information from the Candomblés Gantois, Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá, Engenho Velho and Terreiro do Cobre, which are still operating in Salvador today.

Landes was marginalized in U.S. Anthropology because some influential male colleagues undermined her research topics, theories and behavior as scandalous or unfounded. However, the Portuguese translation of her book A Cidade das Mulheres published in Brazil in 1967 left an enduring mark in Brazilian academia and studies of Candomblé. Her work was increasingly well received by many feminists and Candomblé members towards the end of the twentieth Century, and the value of her ethnographic monograph as a historical record made it a classic in anthropology. In 2005, a documentary called “A Cidade das Mulheres”, inspired by Landes’ ethnography, was launched as a defense of the matriarchal tradition of Candomblés in Bahia, featuring interviews with prominent priestesses like Mãe Stella de Oxóssi. According to Fábio Batista Lima, a Bahian anthropologist and Candomblé practitioner, Landes’ ethnography circulated in his temple, Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá, was read by the head priestess Mãe Stella and inspired a study group among the temple’s members (Lima, 2003, p. 2-3). Within Brazilian academia, Maria do Rosário Carvalho included Landes’ book in her courses and seminars in the department of Social Sciences at the Federal University of Bahia, inspiring debates in the field of Brazilian anthropology and creating future generations of readers and fans of her work.

The works published by Ruth Landes in the United States (1940a, 1940b, 1947) following her research in Brazil raised major themes and questions that have been debated since. In the 1960s, René Ribeiro confirmed Landes’ observations regarding the prominence of male homosexuality in the cults of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. Again in 1972, Seth and Ruth Leacock reported a similar phenomenon in the Batuque of Belém (Fry, 1995, pp. 193-194). Roger Bastide, despite being one of the few to praise Landes’ work, denied the link between homosexual men and Candomblé (Bastide, 1978, p. 221; Fry, 1995, p. 193). Peter Fry once again investigated the Afro-Brazilian religious cults of Belém, Pará, and showed that in the ethnographic context, gay men did not enter into the religion due to the desire to be women as Landes had proposed (Landes, 1940a; Fry, 1986, p. 208). Rather, Fry observed how Afro-Brazilian cults have structural elements that create an environment in which gay men can express themselves and identify with other marginalized groups within Brazilian society. Patrícia Birman (1995) also addressed the subject of sexuality in Umbanda temples in Rio de Janeiro and highlighted that corporal possession was structurally a female role and therefore a prevalent position among effeminate gay men. These are but a few examples of the debates in the Brazilian academy building off Landes’ works and theoretical interventions.

Landes’ analysis of matriarchy among African descendants in Bahia became relevant in the debates emerging in Afro-American Studies and Feminist Anthropology. Her work tied into the debates between Herskovits and Frazier on the modifications and retentions of African culture in the New World (Frazier, 1942; Herskovits, 1943). The narrative style of Landes’ ethnography served as an example for some post-modernist scholars who were rethinking the discipline of Anthropology through the perspective of women, among other previously marginalized subjects (Cole, 1995; Behar and Gordon, 1995). Her theorizations were based in the training she received as a Boasian anthropologist within the context of U.S. feminism and the nascent studies of sexuality at the time. Her conclusions were provocative, some even offensive, as in the case of “passive homosexuality” [32], and others utopian, in the simplistic notion of Black matriarchy. In many ways the analysis was derived from predetermined intentions to study and defend the roles of women according to her particular anthropological, social and political aspirations (Matory, 2005). [33] While her attention to Black women’s prominent positions in Candomblé was innovative for the field of studies at that time, she reinforced North American perceptions of Brazil as a place of racial harmony in contrast to the United States, emphasizing the importance of class difference over racial discrimination.

In sum, The City of Women became a classic ethnography in Brazilian studies, utilized as a primary source to be interpreted for generations. Landes’ book is still widely read in Brazil as a main historical reference for many academics and members of temples where she researched. She represented women and their predominant roles in the Candomblé temples based on the leaders with whom she interacted during her field research (primarily Mãe Menininha, Mãe Flaviana and Mãe Sabina and oral histories on the deceased priestesses Mãe Aninha and Mãe Pulquéria). Landes knew she had represented many of her informants favorably, especially the Candomblé priestess Mãe Menininha. In a letter she told Carneiro that Menininha “knows about my book and speaks well of me”,

M. Verger of the French Consulate writes that he has seen Menininha. Evidently she knows about my book, and about some study circles that appear to have discussed it and still—according to him—she ‘speaks well of me’. Of course, she ought to, since I painted her so well; but you know how badly some of the anthropologists took to the book simply because it was friendly to candomblé and because it was readably written. Ramos did some pretty tall talking, Beldus told me, and it seemed to have shocked people. Pierson too. (I saw him a year ago at the International Congress, and he appeared very uncomfortable indeed) (Landes, 1948-1951).

The City of Women was risky because “it touched upon, at least, three anthropological sores of the time: the status of women in Brazilian society, the place of Africa in the interpretation of Black culture in the New World, and the relation between masculine homosexuality and Afro-Brazilian religiosity” (Fry, 2002, pp. 23-24). [34] In this sense, Landes was courageous and even radical in her representation of Black female power in an Afro-Brazilian religion. It is not surprising, then, that her representation has been well received by many women of Candomblé and feminist anthropologists, and poorly received or acknowledged by several male colleagues. The dynamics of gender are present in every stage of this story—from her upbringing in New York city, anthropological training at Columbia University, to the controversies during her time at Fisk University, her relationship with Edison Carneiro in Bahia, the critiques of her research methodologies and conclusions on gender and sexuality, which ended up greatly affecting her career and legacy, even after her death in 1991. Ruth Landes did not leave any biological descendants, having divorced and aborted several pregnancies throughout her life (Cole, 2003). Her legacy remains in her writings, in her archive and in all of the records preserved as the result of work, to be interpreted and appreciated by future generations for her courage, innovation, and vision.

Landes’ story provokes reflections in the history of Anthropology, the formation of Africana Studies and methodological considerations for a postmodern Anthropology. Landes left her sources and personal material to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the Smithsonian Museum, facilitating access and encouraging future researchers to analyze her story with fresh eyes. Uniting sources from the US and Brazil on Landes and her partner Carneiro during their field research in Brazil from 1938 to 1939 allows for a deeper understanding of the creation of the The City of Women and the development of her career in Anthropology (Andreson, 2019). Landes practiced a research methodology that respected informants and represented them as dynamic individuals. Her narrative style produced an accessible and lively book on the world of Candomblé that reflects her experience during her field research. Her short time in Bahia impacted not only her personal and professional life, but also Carneiro’s, and touched all the readers who followed and continue to follow her story, her images and vibrant accounts of central figures in the history of the Bahian Candomblés.

References cited

ANDRESON, Jamie Lee, 2019. Ruth Landes e a cidade das mulheres: uma releitura da antropologia do Candomblé. Salvador: Editora UFBA.

BACHOFEN, Johann Jakob, 1967 [1861]. Myth, Religion and Mother Right: Selected writings by J.J. Bachofen. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

BASTIDE, ROGER, 1978. The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

BEHAR, Ruth, & GORDON, Deborah A, 1995. Women Writing Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

BENZAQUEN DE ARAÚJO, Ricardo, 1994. Guerra e paz: Casa-Grande & Senzala e a obra de Gilberto Freyre nos anos 30. Editora 34.

BIRMAN, Patrícia, 1995. Fazer estilo criando gêneros: possessão e diferenças de gênero em terreiros de umbanda e candomblé no Rio De Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UERJ.

CAPONE, Stefania, 2010. Searching for Africa in Brazil: Power and Tradition in Candomblé. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

CARNEIRO, Edison, 1940. “The Structure of African Cults in Bahia”. Translation by Ruth Landes. Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 53, No. 210 (Oct-Dec.), pp. 271-278.

CARNEIRO, Edison, 1948. Os Candomblés da Bahia. Salvador da Bahia: Museu do Estado.

CARNEIRO, Edison, 1964. “Uma falseta de Artur Ramos”. In: CARNEIRO, Edison. Ladinos e Crioulos: estudos sôbre o negro no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Editôra Civilização Brasileira S.A.

CARNEIRO, Edison, 1991. Religiões Negras [1936] e Negros Bantos [1937]. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilização Brasileira.

CARVALHO, Bernardo, 2002. Nove Noites: romance. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.

COLE, Sally, 1995. “Ruth Landes and the Early Ethnography of Race and Gender”. In: BEHAR, Ruth, & GORDON, Deborah A, 1995. Women Writing Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 166-185.

COLE, Sally, 2002. “Mrs. Landes Meet Mrs. Benedict: Culture Pattern and Individual Agency in the 1930s”. American Anthropologist. 104(2), pp. 533-543.

COLE, Sally, 2003. Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology. University of Nebraska Press.

COLE, Sally, 2009. Rainy River Lives: Stories Told by Maggie Wilson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. {}

CORRÊA, Mariza, 2000. “O Mistério dos Orixás e das Bonecas: raça e gênero na antropologia brasileira”. Etnografia, vol. IV (2).

CORRÊA, Mariza, 2002. “Prefácio: Esboços no espelho”. In: LANDES, Ruth. A Cidade das Mulheres. Tradução de Maria Lúcia do Eirado Silva. 2a edição. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFRJ.

CORRÊA, Mariza, 2003. Antropólogas & Antropologia. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG.

DANTAS, Beatriz Góis, 1988. Stephen Berg, trans. Vovô Nagô e Papai Branco: usos e abusos da África no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Edições Graal Ltda.

ENGELS, Friedrich, 1972 [1884]. The Origin of the Family Private Property and the State. New York: Pathfinder Press.

FEE, Elizabeth, 1973. “Sexual Politics of Victorian Anthropology” in Feminist Studies. Vol. 1, No. 3/4, Special Double Issue: Women’s History (Winter - Spring), pp. 23-39.

FRAZIER, E. Franklin, 1942. “The Negro Family in Bahia, Brazil.” American Sociological Review, vol. 7, pp. 465-78.

FRAZIER, E. Franklin, 1992 [1942]. “Brazil Has No Race Problem”. In: HELLWIG, David J. African-american Reflections on Brazil’s Racial Paradise. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

FREYRE, Gilberto. 1933. Casa Grande e Senzala. Rio de Janeiro.

FREYRE, Gilberto, and Samuel W. Putnam, 1946. The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

FRY, Peter, 1982. “Homossexualidade masculina e os cultos afro-brasileiros” In: FRY, Peter. Para o Inglês ver: identidade e política na cultura brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar Editores.

FRY, Peter, 1995. “Male Homosexuality and Afro-Brazilian Possession Cults”. In: MURRAY, Stephen O. (ed.). Latin American Male Homosexualities. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

HEALEY, Mark, 1998. “‘The Sweet Matriarchy of Bahia’: Ruth Landes’ Ethnography of race and Gender”. Disposition XXIii.50, pp. 87-116. Department of Romance Languages, University of Michigan.

HELLWIG, David J., 1992. African-American Reflections on Brazil’s Racial Paradise. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

HERSKOVITS, Melville, 1943 “The Negro in Bahia, Brazil: A problem in Method.” American Sociological Review, 8, 394-402.

HERSKOVITS, Melville, 1947. “Review of The City of Women”. American Anthropologist, Jan-Mar.

LANDES, Ruth, 1937. Ojibwa Sociology. Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University: New York: Columbia University Press.

LANDES, Ruth, 1938. The Ojibwa Woman. New York: Columbia University Press.

LANDES, Ruth, 1940a. “A Cult Matriarchate and Male Homosexuality”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 35: 386-397.

LANDES, Ruth, 1940b. “Fetish worship in Brazil”. Journal of American Folklore. 53 (210): 261-270.

LANDES, Ruth, 1947. The City of Women. New York: Macmillan Company.

LANDES, Ruth, 1967a. “Negro Jews in Harlem”. Jewish Journal of Sociology (9): 176-177.

LANDES, Ruth, 1967b. A Cidade Das Mulheres. Rio de Janeiro: Civilizac̜ão Brasileira. 

LANDES, Ruth, 1970a. “A Woman Anthropologist in Brazil”. In: GOLDE, Peggy. Women in the Field: Anthropological Experiences. University of California Press.

LANDES, Ruth, 1970b. The Prairie Potawatomi: Tradition and Ritual in the Twentieth Century. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

LANDES, Ruth, 1994. The City of Women. Introduction by Sally Cole. 2nd edition. University of New Mexico Press.

LANDES, Ruth, 2002. A Cidade das Mulheres. Tradução de Maria Lúcia do Eirado Silva, Prefácio de Mariza Corrêa; Apresentação de Peter Fry. 2a edição. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFRJ.

LIMA, Fábio Batista, 2003. “Revisitando a Cidade das Mulheres”. XXVII Encontro Anual da ANPOCS. GT17: Relações Raciais e Etnicidade. 21 a 25 de Outubro. Caxambu, Minas Gerais.

MATORY, J. Lorand, 2005. Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble. Princeton University Press.

MORGAN, Lewis Henry, 1870. Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family.

MORGAN, Lewis Henry, 1963 [1877]. Ancient Society; or, Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization. Cleveland: World Pub. Co.

BREGA, Cida e ECHEVERRIA, Regina. Mãe Menininha do Gantois: uma biografia. Salvador: Corrupio, 2006.

PALLARES-BURKE, Maria Lúcia, 2005. Gilberto Freyre: um vitoriano dos trópicos. São Paulo: Editora UNESP.

PALLARES-BURKE, Maria Lúcia. 2018. A Two-Headed Thinker: Rüdiger Bilden, Gilberto Freyre, and the Reinvention of Brazilian Identity In: Ned Blackhawk and Isaih Lorado Wilner (eds)., Indigenous Visions: Rediscovering the World of Franz Boas. Yale University Press.

PALLARESBURKE, Maria Lúcia G., 2020. “An Intellectual Portrait of Rüdiger Bilden, Forgotten Forerunner of Gilberto Freyre”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

PARK, George and Alice Park, 1988. “Ruth Schlossberg Landes”. In GACS, Ute (ed). Women Anthropologists: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Greenwood Press, pp. 208-213.

PRICE, David H, 2004. Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists. Durham: Duke University Press.

RAMOS, Arthur, 1939. “Críticas a ‘Ethos do Negro no Novo Mundo’”. Rio de Janeiro: Acervo Arthur Ramos, Biblioteca Nacional.

RAMOS, Arthur, 1942. “Pesquisas estrangeiras sobre o negro brasileiro”. In: RAMOS, Arthur. A Aculturação Negra no Brasil. Biblioteca Pedagógica Brasileira, Vol. 224. Companhia Editora Nacional.

ROOSEVELT, Theodore, 1992 [1914]. In: HELLWIG, David J. African-American Reflections on Brazil’s Racial Paradise. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

ROSSI, Luiz Gustavo Freitas, 2011. “Um intelectual ‘feiticeiro’: Edison Carneiro e o campo de estudos das relações raciais no Brasil”. Tese de Doutorado, Departamento de Antropologia do Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas da Universidade Estadual de Campinas, 228 p.

ROSSI, Luiz G., 2015. O intelectual feiticeiro: Edison Carneiro e o campo de estudos das relações raciais no Brasil. Campinas: Editora UNICAMP.

SANSONE, Livio, 2011. “USA and Brazil in Gantois: Power and the Transnational Origin of Afro-Brazilian Studies”, Vibrant, v. 8, n. 1, January – June.

SKIDMORE, 1974. Thomas E. Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought. New York: Oxford University Press.

SOARES, Angelo Barroso Costa, 2005. “Academia dos Rebeldes: modernismo à moda baiana”. Feira de Santana, 2005. 191 f., il. Dissertação (Mestrado em Literatura e Diversidade Cultural)-Departamento de Letras e Artes, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Feira de Santana.

TELLES, Edward, 2004. Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil. Princeton University Press.

TURNER, Lorenzo, 1942. “Some Contacts of Brazilian Ex-slaves with Nigeria, West Africa”, Journal of Negro History, 27: 55-67.

Archival Collections

Collection Ruth Landes Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum.

Collection Museu Edison Carneiro, Centro Nacional de Folclore e Cultura Popular, Rio de Janeiro.

Collection Margaret Mead Papers, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Collection Acervo Arthur Ramos, Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro.




[1Jamie Lee Andreson is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Africana Research Center, Pennsylvania State University.

[2Peter Nord, “Ruth Landes: Women as Individuals” [no date]. National Anthropological Archives, Ruth Landes Papers. Box 60: Biographical and Personal Files.

[3Fisk University was a historically Black College that during the 1930s hosted prominent social scientists associated with the development of Afro-American Studies, including Charles Johnson, Rüdiger Bilden, Donald Pierson and Lorenzo Dow Turner.

[4Ruth Landes, “Afro Brazilian Culture and New World Racism” ([No date], Box 47, Series 3: Writings. Ruth Landes Papers: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institute).

[5Original in Portuguese: “Landes expôs uma fratura de gênero na análise dos cultos afro-brasileiros que merece atenção até hoje” (Mariza, 2002, p. 150).

[6Ruth Landes, “Book Review of Afro-American Anthropology: Contemporary Perspectives By Norman E. Whitten and John f. Swed (1971, Ruth Landes Papers: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institute).

[7“The fact that these contacts have been so direct and so continuous over such a long period—that is, from a time long before the abolition of slavery until only a few years ago—is especially significant. Those Brazilians and their African-born children who lived in Nigeria for many years and who are now living in Brazil not only speak Yoruba fluently, but, as leaders in the fetish cults, they use their influence to keep the form of worship as genuinely African as possible. This is true not only of their religious life, but of their other activities as well.” (Turner, 1942, p. 66).

[8Translation by the author. Original in Portuguese: “Sua presença no cenário antropológico brasileiro foi marcante não apenas pelos atos administrativos que realizou ou pelos trabalhos acadêmicos que deixou de realizar, mas pelo empenho na formação de jovens pesquisadores através da experiência da pesquisa de campo e no desenvolvimento da etnologia” (Corrêa, 2003, p. 142).

[9Translation by the author. Original in Portuguese: “Nunca, absolutamente nunca, letrado algum, brasileiro ou não, tivera tanta intimidade com os candomblés da Bahia” (Carneiro, 1964, p. 225).

[10This is the mixed-race category within the broader understanding of “black” in Brazil. Preto is the darkest skin color, and pardo is included as slightly lighter in a spectrum of colorism. See Telles, 2004.

[11Ruth Landes to Ruth Benedict, September 22, 1938 (The Ruth Fulton Benedict Papers (RFBP), Vassar College) cited in Cole, 2003, p. 166.

[12Translation by the author. Original in Portuguese: “localmente, entre o povo de santo e as elites baianas, se convertendo gradualmente em porta-voz e mandatário das demandas políticas e simbólicas dos candomblés baianos, que Edison encaminhava a um público abrangente na forma de artigos, notícias e reportagens.” (Rossi, 2011, p. 265).

[13Translation by the author. Original in Portuguese: “facilitador ao acesso de intelectuais de diferentes regiões do Brasil e do mundo a objetos e dados etnográficos que, naquela época, começavam a se tornar paradigmáticos para o estudo das relações raciais e da cultura africana no Brasil e no novo mundo, como foi o caso da Bahia” (Rossi, 2011, p. 266).

[14Edison Carneiro to Ruth Landes (February 22, 1946, Centro Nacional de Folclore e Cultura Popular).

[15Edison Carneiro to Ruth Landes (October 2, 1939, National Anthropological Archives).

[16The group’s mission was to “value popular culture, especially African and Afro-Bahian culture that were marginalized during the colonization of Brazil” (Soares, 2005, intro). Prominent Bahian writers from the time, including Jorge Amado, Sosígenes Costa, Aydano Ferraz, Guilherme Dias Gomes, João Alves Ribeiro, Walter da Silveira, José Severiano da Costa Andrade, João de Castro Cordeiro, Guilherme Freitas Dias Gomes and Clóvis Amorim collaborated and published a magazine called O Momento, to incorporate the life and problems of Afro-Brazilians in literary works.

[17Her written report “The Ethos of the Negro in the New World” (Landes, 1939) was not included in the final compilation, An American Dilemma, and became a source of criticism among colleagues Melville Herskovits and Arthur Ramos. See more in Andreson, 2019.

[18Mariza Corrêa points out how, due to her relationships and proximity to black people, “[...] Landes was ‘racialized’, we might say, in the context of North American Anthropology of the time, and that her trajectory resembles that of Zora Neale Hurston more than other white female colleagues who inherited the Boasian tradition”. Translation by the author: “[...] Landes foi ‘racializada’, por assim dizer, no contexto da antropologia norte-americana da época, e que sua trajetória se aproxima, assim, muito mais da de Zora Neale Hurston do que da de suas outras colegas brancas, herdeiras da tradição boasiana” (Corrêa, 2003, p. 251).

[19According to a fictionalized autobiography written by Landes, during her stay at Fisk, she became romantically involved with a Black Physics professor twenty years her senior, named Elmer S. Imes, resulting in a nickname that stuck with her throughout her life, the “negro lover”. The Ruth Landes Papers at the Smithsonian Institute holds the autobiography, which shows her conflicted feelings as a young white woman secretly involved with an older, Black professor in a racially segregated city (Cole, 2003, p. 150).

[20Margaret Mead (1940, Margaret Mead Papers).

[21Ruth Landes to Margaret Mead (September 20, 1948, Margaret Mead Papers).

[22Centro Nacional de Folclore e Cultura Popular (CNFCP) - The Center for Folklore and Popular Culture, Rio de Janeiro.

[23Ruth Landes to Edison Carneiro (April 3, 1946, Centro Nacional de Folclore e Cultura Popular).

[24Ruth Landes to Edison Carneiro (February 27, 1946, Centro Nacional de Folclore e Cultura Popular).

[25Edison Carneiro to Ruth Landes (November 18, 1939, National Anthropological Archives); Edison Carneiro to Ruth Landes (July 14, 1939, National Anthropological Archives).

[26Ruth Landes to Mr. Marriott (June 22, 1966, National Anthropological Archives).

[27Ruth Landes to Mr. Jadjopouos (November 18, 1967, National Anthropological Archives).

[28Ruth Landes Field Notes (1966, Box 11: Series 2, Folder II, National Anthropological Archives).

[29For example, during his research in Brazil, Herskovits paid for information, did not write down the research subjects’ names, and simply organized them by theme (Sansone, 2012, p. 551).

[30Original in Portuguese: “Tratando-se de mulher e de mulher bonita e insinuante, a frase adquire um tom deliberadamente reticencioso e descortês”.

[31Translation by the author. Original in Portuguese: “... apesar da ênfase que retrospectivamente atribuímos à questão racial no seu livro, creio que ela será lembrada também como uma fina observadora de detalhes que são, afinal, a marca da boa antropóloga” (Corrêa, 2002, p. 16).

[32In Landes’ 1940 article “A Cult Matriarchate and Male Homosexuality”, Landes referred to homosexual male Candomblé priests as “passive homosexuals”, social outcastes who take the female role in sexual acts”. She argued that the Fathers (pais-de-santo or head priests) “aspire to a feeling of oneness with the ‘mother’ tradition” and “want to be women” (p. 394). She contributed to a hierarchy among the nations of Candomblé, by which the Angolan Temples led by gay men were seen as inferior to the Yoruba-descended Temples led by women. See Dantas, 1988 and Capone, 2010.

[33J.L. Matory attributes the beginning of the matriarchal understanding of Candomblé to Ruth Landes’ projection of a “transnational community of women” during her research from 1938 to 1939. Matory claims that Landes’ thesis of matriarchy, motivated by her own political commitments, “clearly changed the minds and conduct of Candomblé’s leading bourgeois allies and, consequently, the conditions of that religion’s production in Brazilian society.” (Matory, 2005, p. 193).

[34Original in Portuguese: “tocou, pelo menos, em três feridas antropológicas da época: o status das mulheres na sociedade brasileira, o lugar da África na interpretação da cultura negra no Novo Mundo e a relação entre a homossexualidade masculina e a religiosidade afro-brasileira” (Fry, 2002, pp. 23-24)