With primary sources such as personal letters, correspondences, and a collection of fieldwork photography, this book discusses the experience of the American anthropologist Ruth Landes in Bahia during her original research on Candomblé, between August 1938 and February 1939. Andreson elaborates on Landes' theories of matriarchy and homosexuality in Candomblé, presented in articles and, principally, her ethnography The City of Women, published in 1947 in English and in 1967 in Portuguese. She examines, in minute detail, the collaborative and romantic relationship between Ruth Landes and the Bahian ethnologist Edison Carneiro from the time they first met in 1938 until Carneiro's death in 1972. She points to how their collaboration throughout their careers impacted the field of Afro-Brazilian studies as well as contributed to each other's personal and scholarly development. Andreson offers a comparative analysis between the written ethnography and the photos taken during fieldwork in order to bring us closer to Landes' experience as a foreign researcher in Candomblé and her interactions with her main interlocutors: women and children in the terreiros. This book shows how these interactions in the field informed Landes' conclusions in subsequent publications. Finally, Andreson discusses the critiques of Landes' thesis on matriarchy and homosexuality and illustrates how Landes' work established the basis for discussions in the fields of Afro-Brazilian studies and feminist and postmodern anthropology to consider her impact on the academy and the relevance of her ethnography in approaching the study of Candomblé in the present-day.
Jamie Andreson will be doing a talk as part of the Anthro-History Workshop on Feb 7. She'll be discussing her recent book publication Ruth Landes e a Cidade das Mulheres: uma releitura de antropologia do Candomblé with the Editora UFBA (Federal University of Bahia Press) in 2019 together with a chapter of her dissertation, Mothers in the Family of Saints: Making Afro-Brazilian Religious Heritage.