Carnivals, rogues and heroes. An interpretation of the Brazilian dilemma. By Roberto DaMatta. Notre Dame/London: University of Notre Dame Press. 1991. 279 pp. Pb.: £13.50. ISBN: 0 268 00794 2.
The Brazilian puzzle. Culture on the borderlands of the western World. Edited by David J. Hess and Roberto DaMatta. New York: Columbia University Press. 1995. 306 pp. Pb.: $12.50. ISBN: 0 231 10115 5.
Brazilian anthropological studies of that country's modern, highly urbanised society are varied in subject and theoretically diverse. The emergence of this distinct sub-discipline in the seventies coincided with the harsh years of military rule, and it is perhaps little wonder that the question of national identity, directly or in a more diffuse way, seems to pervade most research in this area. Were not the military, in a sense, occupying their own country? What was one to think of elites that turned their back on the problems of the common people? Who are we, the Brazilians? What is ‘Brazilianness’, brasilidade, or as Roberto DaMatta puts it, ‘What makes brazil Brazil?’