Peter Schröder: An Episode from the Beginnings of Anthropology in the Amazon. Curt Nimuendajú and the Xipaya Indians – A Research in Adverse Circumstances


The German ethnologist Curt Unckel Nimuendajú (1883–1945), who had immigrated to Brazil in 1903, moved his permanent residence to Belém in 1913, where he established professional contacts with the Goeldi Museum. Between 1915 and 1919, he survived by working precarious jobs, but also carried out fieldwork among the Xipaya Indians in quite adverse circumstances. This is an illuminating episode about the beginnings of anthropology in the Amazon, which allows relativizing some stereotypes about the history of anthropology, which are commonly reproduced in social science curricula. In addition, it sheds light upon an anthropology without universities where the influences of German ethnology still prevailed and where texts written by self-educated researchers were still accepted.