Cultural Anthropology

explanatory Essay
1958 words
1958 words

Elizabeth Nunn-Faron Dr. Craig Palmer 5 May 2014 Cultural Anthropology The Forgotten Frontier, Ranchers of North Brazil Peter Rivière, the author of “The Forgotten Frontier, Ranchers of North Brazil”, is a British social anthropologist that is known in England, as a pioneer of the study and teaching of Amazonian people. He traveled to the northernmost parts of Brazil, specifically to the state of Roraima, from June 1967 until December 1967 to study the socioeconomic organization of cattle ranchers of Brazil. His attitude towards the ranchers was that of strong cultural relativity, as he states, “the object of this study is to demonstrate the relationship between a set of historical, geographical, and environmental factors and a particular form of socioeconomic organization, but at the same time I hope to give the reader a good idea of what the ranching life on the savannas of Roraima is like.” (Rivière 2) This statement proves that his main agenda was to learn as much as possible about the culture so that he could then teach his findings to the public. Rivière’s style of interviewing was that of informal unstructured, proven by the statement, “Accordingly the most reliable method of collecting information was by listening to other people’s conversations and afterwards asking discreet questions about the part of it that I did not understand.” (Rivière 4) Rivière built his rapport at the local bar and conducted a majority of his “interviews” with the informants, after they had a few shots of cachaca, the local rum. All of these factors further corroborate the informality of his research. Rivière takes a very informative approach when describing the Roraimaenses and their culture, only including small amounts of personal stories, bu... ... middle of paper ... ...congregation facing west.” (Rivière 81) The entirety of the ceremony begins at 5 o’clock and ends at dusk with a candle lighting vigil. All the dead are honored on this day every year to show the significance of their lives as well as to further to demonstrate the Roraima’s belief in a supernatural claim. In general, Rivière explained the Roraimaenses culture very well. The descriptions given about the culture all matched those that we discussed throughout this semester. Each connection could easily be made and compared to the cultures we went over in class such as the culture of Flower’s Cove. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the northern ranchers of Brazil’s lifestyles and found it interesting to learn through the perspective of another esteemed anthropologist. Peter Rivière took a strong relativity approach toward the ranchers and it proved to be successful.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes peter rivière as a pioneer of the study and teaching of amazonian people. he traveled to the northernmost parts of brazil to study the socioeconomic organization of cattle ranchers.
  • Explains that the portuguese settled in the savannas and introduced cattle and horses to the region. cattle-rearing was successful with the population rates exceeding human population growth.
  • Explains that rivière focused his fieldwork on the traditional ranchers of roraima, but due to the isolation of the ranches, he had to stay in one main cowtown, which was the focal point of a large ranching area.
  • Explains the egalitarian nature of the roraima ranching communities. the fazendeiro, moradores, and vaqueiros are the ranchers who own an esteemed number of cattle and have additional occupations.
  • Explains that roraima's political organization has developed and acculturated to one that is similar to central brazil.
  • Explains roraima's kinship and family structure is that of a nuclear family which practices exogamy.
  • Analyzes how rivière's fieldwork shows the levels and types of kinship, with weak ties relating most to negative reciprocity. segmentary opposition can be seen among the children of deceased ranchers.
  • Explains that the roraima region's catholic church maintains its dominance throughout the communities with the aid of traveling priests who perform baptisms and marriages.
  • Explains that death is an important ritual in the roraima culture. unlike baptisms and marriages, priests are not required to be in attendance at a funeral.
  • Opines that rivière explained the roraimaenses culture very well and compared it to the culture of flower's cove.
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