Current Institutional Affiliation
Mellon Postdoctoral Researcher in Indigenous Studies, History, McGill University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Interdisciplinary Indigeneity: The Xavánte and the Human Sciences, 1962-2012

Indigenous bodies, relationships, and communities have long been considered valuable sites of research by scholars in the human sciences. In this project, I examine the history of research on the Xavánte, a Brazilian indigenous population that, since the 1960s, has endured repeated interaction with a variety of researchers. Scholars visited, measured, and sampled the Xavánte, viewing them as saturated with scientific data that required urgent documentation in the face of their imagined impending cultural extinction. Inquiring into the highly interdisciplinary research agenda of the geneticists, cultural anthropologists, physical anthropologists and others who have studied the Xavánte, my work aims to elucidate questions of research practice, interpretation, and sociability across disciplines. By bringing the history of the biological and social sciences into conversation with a rich historiography of indigeneity and ethno-racial identity in Brazil, this project will inform understandings of the role of the human sciences in producing knowledge about "the indigenous", and the subsequent mobilization of this knowledge to diverse political and social ends. It will contribute to the nascent history of science for the second half of the 20th century in Brazil. Finally, using oral history and both formal and multimedia archives, this project seeks to understand how the Xavánte have experienced, participated in, and resisted their positioning as a privileged source of knowledge for cross-disciplinary study.