VAGNER GONÇALVES DA SILVA - Academic Career and Activities of Research and Extension

I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at University of Sao Paulo (USP) where I also completed the graduate degrees of Master and Doctor in Social Anthropology.

In my Master Dissertation (1988-1992) I investigated the Candomble in São Paulo focusing on the apparently contrast between this religion, which is magic and worships entities of nature, and the urban context of metropolis. I did fieldwork in approximately 50 terreiros (temples) located in the Great São Paulo  and I have discussed topics such as the formation of Candomble in the southeastern region of Brazil, the importance of structure ritual in the daily life of the devotees, the oral tradition in the context of  the written knowledge and the meanings of "reafricanization" of the cults. The research was supported by CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and Foundation Search of the State of Sao Paulo (FAPESP) and was published as Orixás da Metrópole (Metropolitan Orixas)              

In that period I also carried on two researches. The first, aims to understand the role of religious music as a structuring element of Afro-Brazilian religions. The results are published as "Cantar para subir - um estudo antropológico da música ritual no candomblé paulista" ("Sing to climb - An Anthropological study of music ritual in Candomblé of São Paulo"). The second, focus on the relationship among blacks and whites members of Candomblé and the results are published in  “A cor do axé - brancos e negros no candomblé de São Paulo". ("The color of axé - whites and blacks in Candomblé of Sao Paulo"). That research was supported by the Center of Afro-Asian Studies from Rio de Janeiro and Ford Foundation.              

In Doctorate (1993-1998) I investigated the fieldwork of anthropologists who have studied the Afro-Brazilian religions and the return that the academic ethnographies has for religious communities. I interviewed anthropologists and followers in several Brazilian cities and put in perspective my own insertion in the world religious and academic. I have counted with a scholarship from CNPq and the results of this search are published in O Antropólogo e sua magia (The anthropologist and his magic).   

In this period I also had carried on a historical, anthropological study on the formation of Candomble and Umbanda arguing that the structural relation between matrices of Catholicism folk and African and indigenous religions has allowed an understanding of the process of formation of Afro-Brazilian religions as a real dialog and dynamic in addition to the theories of "syncretism" or "masking". This research, addressed to an audience not only academic, was published in Candomblé e Umbanda - Caminhos da Devoção Brasileira. (Candomblé and Umbanda - Ways of Brazilian devotion).

Between 2002 and 2006, I organized the collecting Memória Afro-Brasileira (Afro-Brazilian Memory) edited in three volumes content 19 analyzes on the legacy social, cultural and political Afro-Brazilian population in the formation of national society. The analyzes based the reconstitution of the history of life of 20 representatives of this population chosen among priests, writers, artists popular, capoeristas, musicians, carnavalescos etc. Icons of Black imaginary in Brazil were also analyzed, such as black image of national patroness, slaver Anastácia, Chico Rei, among others.              

Also I organized a special number of the magazine "História Viva, Grandes Religiões ("Living History, Great Religions") on the Afro-Brazilian religions, showing the importance of these religions placed alongside other, as the Christianity, Judaism etc.              

In 2005, I organized a dossier on the attacks of neopentecostal churches against the Afro-Brazilian religions and researched the changing that these attacks have generated in the religious field and in the perception of the symbols of African heritage in Brazil. The results of these studies were published as "Notícias de uma guerra nada particular" and "Entre a Gira de Fé e Jesus de Nazaré" ("News of a war nothing particularly" and "Between the hinges of Faith and Jesus of Nazareth"), both chapters of Intolerância Religiosa (Religious Intolerance) collection edited by me and which meets work of other researchers on the theme.              

Currently I am running (with Rita Amaral) a research named "Afro-Brazilian religions and culture: a national approach hypermedia", in which we analyze the relations between that religiosity and aspects of Brazilian culture in the areas of popular festivities, capoeira, music, literature, cinema etc. This is a search broad developed in 6 capitals and whose results will be available on website This research is being sponsored by FAPESP (1999-2001) and CNPq.              

I have run extension and cultural activities related to my areas of research, such as courses, lectures, anthropological reports, participation in committees and consultation for several public and private institutions. I was a member, for example, the "Expedição São Paulo 450 anos" ("Expedition São Paulo 450 years") and in 2005 I took part of the interdisciplinary committee for implantation of Museu Afro Brasil (Museum Afro Brazil) that currently brings together the largest multidisciplinary collection on Blacks in Brazil. In this Museum I was curator of exhibition "A Divina Inspiração Sagrada e Religiosa: Sincretismos" ("Divine Inspiration Sacred and Religious: Syncretism") which held in 2007.              

Since August 2008, I am making stage postdoctoral at Harvard University, as residential fellow researcher of W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American.

Studies, with the support of CAPES. In March 2009, I will stretch this stage as research scholar and visiting professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), supported by a scholarship of Fulbright Scholar Program.             

I am a member of the Urban Anthropology Group (NAU) of USP; Brazilian Association of Anthropology (ABA), in which I am member of the Commission of Ethnic and Racial Relations (CRER) and the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA); among others.    

Areas of interest  
Afro-Brazilian Culture and Religiosity
Memory and African Diaspora in Brazil
Field Work; Text and Ethnographic Representation 
Urban Anthropology   

Teaching Activities  
I am Assistant Professor at  Department of Anthropology of USP, where I have taught disciplines in the area of Anthropology in the course of Social Sciences and in the Program of Post-Graduation in Social Anthropology.   

Profissional Address  
Universidade de São Paulo
Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas
Departamento de Antropologia
Avenida Professor Luciano Gualberto, 315, Cidade Universitária - São Paulo/SP - Brasil - CEP 05508-900
Phone: +55 (11) 3031-2552 or 3091-3779
Office: Room 19