In This Review

Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil
Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil
By Alcida Rita Ramos
University Of Wisconsin Press, 1998, 368 pp

Although indigenous peoples compose less than one percent of Brazil's population, they occupy a prominent role in its national consciousness. This notable book by a Brazilian anthropologist, based on 30 years of fieldwork among the Yanomami Indians, takes a multifaceted look at how Brazilians see their remaining Indian peoples -- and how the Indians portray themselves while defending their ethnic rights against the Brazilian state. At the core of the complex relationship between indigenous and European Brazilians is an ambivalence that reflects both Brazil's pride in ethnic pluralism and its simultaneous desire for cultural homogeneity. This is a country, Ramos writes, that continues to "nourish its unresolved love-hate relationship with its minorities, its ambivalence towards the Indian as a necessary evil, a convenient bone stuck in its throat, a perfect ideological alibi that goes on justifying its choking in a stifling inferiority complex." A major contribution to the ongoing debate over the fate of America's indigenous peoples.