Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Clara Fortes Brandão

With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship, Clara Fortes Brandão will continue her training in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Oxford, hosted by Elizabeth Ewart.

As a Brazilian social anthropologist, I am fascinated by the exploration of personhood and sociality among Amerindian societies. More specifically, I am interested in studying kinship, personal name transmission, dream sharing, curing rites, and indigenous concepts of body and soul in Central Brazil. My recent research has sought to put into dialogue contemporary anthropological literature on new forms of describing kinship systems, the phenomenology of indigenous dreaming, and personhood in non-western societies.

I began studying these topics as an undergraduate trainee at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. During my bachelor’s degree I worked as a research assistant with Anishinaabe First Nation communities in Northern Ontario, Canada. Subsequently as a master’s student based at the Museu Nacional and supervised by Prof. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, I focused my research on Lowland South American societies and wrote my thesis on kinship and naming practices among a Central Brazilian indigenous group.

Presently, I am developing my interest in personhood and sociality by looking at the relationship between kinship and dreams in the making of personhood among an Amazonian indigenous group. This doctoral project, conducted at the University of Oxford with the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship, aims to examine how dream encounters between the soul and non-human entities influence the making and unmaking of bodily kinship among human beings. I chose to carry out this project at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Ewart, due to her expertise on Amazonian sociality. My project greatly benefits from Dr. Ewart’s guidance, as well as from Oxford’s past and present influence on the study of kinship and divination practices.

As a doctoral researcher I seek to bring together the creativity of Brazilian and British traditions in Lowland South America studies by uniting theoretical perceptions gleaned from the two different forms of scholarship. After my PhD degree, I aim to return to Brazil to contribute to advancing vibrant and democratic anthropological discussions in my home country.