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Letters signed by Donald Pierson (1955, 1967, 1974)

Letters signed by Donald Pierson (1955, 1967, 1974)

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Donald Pierson, the North American pioneer of anthropology in Brazil, comments on his research and publications.

  • Three letters from Donald Pierson to Valdemar Cavalcanti.
  • One page for each letter.
  • In Portuguese.
  • 21.5 cm x 28 cm.
  • July 11, 1955 (São Paulo), May 3, 1967 (United States) and July 31, 1974 (United States).
  • Paper weakened by time.
  • Unique set.

Letter from 1955 | This letter is very interesting, because it mentions a little-known research carried out between 1950 and 1953, in the rural interior of Brazil, in the São Francisco Valley.

Letter from 1967 | This letter mentions the publication of the book that was launched in Brazil in 1971: Pierson, Donald. 1971 [1942] Whites and blacks in Bahia: study of racial contact. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional. 2da. edition.

Letter from 1974 | There is a relationship with the 1955 letter, because it deals with the publication of the book O Homem no Vale do São Francisco, which was the last work done by Donald Pierson in Brazil.

We would like to thank Dr. Edgar SG Mendoza, from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, whose PhD thesis and email comments helped us understand the contribution of Donald Pierson, from the Chicago Sociological School, in the early days of Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science in Brazil; and, consequently, the importance of this set of unpublished letters.

Donald Pierson's procedure in field research is very diverse: he made a detailed description of the racial situation, analyzed the proportional number of individuals in contact, degrees of prestige, racial segregation and miscegenation, occupations, clothing, group attitudes, role of mixed race in the community, participation of social groups, ecology, economics, politics and sociology of relations between groups, consciousness of race, status, group feelings of segregation and cultural forms.

With participant observation, research techniques for selecting key information (men, women, age, etc.), questionnaire techniques, family trees and direct interviews, he obtained, first-hand, important data. Through the recording of rituals, weddings, ceremonies, musical concerts, sporting events, solemnities, popular festivals, parades, opening and closing parties at schools, churches, masses, tributes, inaugurations, clubs, cinemas, receptions, congresses, carnivals, processions , public libraries and schools, Donald Pierson managed to get a general idea of ​​these thematic situations. In addition, his studies in historical archives in the search for documents, city maps, personal documents (letters), autobiographies, demographic censuses, life stories, classifications (proverbs), newspapers, scientific bibliographies, popular literature (novels, poems, short stories etc.), allowed him to reconstruct Salvador's past.

Pierson began training students and disciples through classes, seminars, conferences, translations of books and articles, contacts with foreign institutions, universities and teachers. This was a way of training qualified professionals, and, at the same time, of reproducing and building a way of doing research in Brazil.

Donald Pierson was a central figure in sociological research in Brazil with new ideas, points of view and orientations. His interlocutor, Valdemar Cavalcanti (1912 – 1982), was an award-winning writer and a pioneer of journalism in Brazil.

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