How do Brazilians think about their own culture in comparison with those of North America and Western Europe? “The Brazilian Puzzle” provides a unique picture of everyday life in Brazil viewed from a comparative perspective. Brazilian scholars and Brazilianists explore a range of topics in everyday life in Brazil, including sports, music, voluntary associations, religion, political practices, race and gender, and poor neighborhoods. The authors show how Brazilian culture involves a complex negotiation in which the traditional values of hierarchy and personalism permeate even the most modern institutions. “The Brazilian Puzzle” is emblematic of the new era in Brazilian studies in which Brazilian scholars are leading the way. Many of the authors draw on the work of the Brazilian anthropologist Robert DaMatta, who has questioned the perspective of observers from developed Western countries. DaMatta argues that they often project their own categories onto Brazilian society, and instead he suggests that Latin Americans and other peoples develop their own theories rooted in their own unique experiences. In this way “The Brazilian Puzzle” contributes to the end of an era of Brazilianists and the decolonizing of area studies.
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