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Azevedo, Thales de (1904-1995)

Brazilian anthropologist Thales de Azevedo (1904-1995) has stood out in the history of anthropology since the 1950s, when he was part of a major study on race relations in Brazil sponsored by UNESCO. Azevedo was a politically engaged Catholic whose conservatism was counterbalanced by his sense of social justice. His studies of Catholicism sought to apply anthropology to the understanding of folk religiosity in Brazil. With a focus on Brazilian folk cultures, Azevedo conducted ethnographic fieldwork and wrote about daily life and its rites. Holding a degree in medicine, Azevedo was part of the first generations of scholars who instituted anthropology as an academic discipline in Brazil. He was responsible for the chair of anthropology at the Federal University of Bahia between 1942 and 1967, and was a central figure in the founding and later the direction of the Brazilian Association of Anthropology.

Keywords: Folklore | Brazil | Bahia | Race | Race relations | “Racial democracy” | Catholicism | Folk religion | Daily life | UNESCO