International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

German anthropologist Rüdiger Bilden (1893-1980) is a marginal figure in the history of the discipline. He did not finish his PhD at Columbia University in the 1920s, published little and was unable to build a career. Absent from historical memory, Bilden was, however, a forgotten forerunner of Afro-Brazilian studies, particularly in relation to the effects of slavery on Brazilian society and culture, having anticipated some of the ideas of his colleague and life-long friend, Brazilian anthropologist Gilberto Freyre. At a broader level, Bilden’s most important contribution concerned the question of race relations in the United States, a cause to which he gave more and more attention as the prospect of finishing his ambitious volumes on Brazilian slavery was diminishing.

Keywords: Germany | Brazil | United States of America | African-American studies | Slavery | Gilberto Freyre | Columbia University

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