Candace Slater, Professor

Closed (1)

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.


Indigenous peoples have long been part of images of the Amazon. In the increasingly distant past, these images were usually defined in large part by outsiders; over time, they have become hybrid constructions in which the peoples in question redefine themselves within a shifting world which they seek to influence. These re-definitions include a number of deeply interesting, often impassioned narratives that I recorded over two summers in the Brazilian state of Acre. The speakers are members of very small group of people--the Puyanawa community who live near the border with Peru--and who are attempting to recreate what had appeared to be a vanishing Indian identity.

The project focuses on how the community's diverse members make use of different vocabularies and ways of speaking in an Amazon and a Brazil whose frontiers are not just permeable but multiple. (The cacique or chief of the group, for example, is an elected councilman to the municipal government and a former Evangelical preacher who increasingly functions as a native curer or pajé.) My emerging analysis of narratives that explain these transformations (told by him and others) necessarily asks how the contemporary study of words can illumine and interact with other disciplines, including environmental studies. It suggests the ways in which narrative today is both vehicle and emblem of an Amazon that is itself an icon of competing sorts of nature.

Students in different fields including literature, the social and the environmental sciences are welcome to apply. Participation in a small working group is encouraged.



URAP students will help to organize and transcribe a series of compelling tapes that I made in Acre in 2015 and 2016. They will hunt down texts on a variety of subjects including past and present shamanic rituals and shifting environmental policies within Brazil. The material--primarily in English and Portuguese--is extremely interesting and includes the recordings.

Qualifications: I am looking for one or more students with an interest in contemporary Brazil. A working knowledge of Portuguese is necessary. Basic computer skills would be helpful. Ability to put together a basic site (which the community needs) would be great. Native Portuguese is not necessary but would be great. Interest in working as part of a small group.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs



Closed (3) Improbable Metropolis: Stories from a Pilgrimage, a City and a World in Transformation

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

The project for which I seek one or more apprentices focuses on a number of vivid and amazing stories from a pilgrimage to Juazeiro do Norte in the northeast Brazilian state of Ceará. It uses verbal portraits of different sorts of people--some pilgrims, some individuals with other sorts of ties to a massive pilgrimage to a one of the fastest-growing cities in the Brazilian interior.

The book, which is going to press soon, is about the lives of people who make the pilgrimage and the ways that it, they, and Brazil as a whole are changing.
It relies on some 300 hours of recordings of pilgrims and non-pilgrims.

The pilgrimage has fascinating environmental, cultural, and economic facets as
well as religious aspects which underscore the mingling of Catholicism with
Afro-Brazilian religions and New Age and Spiritist movements. It responds to present-day problems such as urban violence and growing environmental problems in ways that underscore the ways in which often extremely poor people continue to hold out hope for the future.



Apprentices will help me with the bibliography, the photographs, and final
editing and they will get to read the stories--which are very compelling.

Qualifications: Students must have at least a reading knowledge of Portuguese. Knowledge of Brazil, especially the Northeast, is welcome but not required.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs