Professor João de Pina-Cabral
Professor of Social Anthropology
The relationship between symbolic thought and social power; family and kinship; ethnicity in colonial and postcolonial contexts.
- - J.Pina-Cabral@kent.ac.uk
- - 01227 (82)4179
Having been trained as a social anthropologist in Johannesburg (South Africa) and at Oxford, I have taught in the UK and in Portugal, where I founded the Portuguese Association of Anthropologists and participated centrally in the consolidation of the Social Sciences, which took place during the 1990s.
My concern to expand the role of social anthropology in Europe led me to actively participate over the past decades in the launching and running of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. I have always favoured an approach to our discipline that emphasises the richness of its plurality and, to that extent, I was a member of the founding committee of the World Council of Anthropological Associations.
More recently, I have engaged in a wide range of activities of academic exchange, namely in Brazil, Spain, France and the United States, where I have been Visiting Professor at various Universities. As Scientific Director of the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (1997-2004) and as Head of School at SAC, Kent (2013-2016), I was responsible for running two vast interdisciplinary projects of study and research.
Recently, I have been involved with HAU Books in producing a work where we lay out the theoretical conditions of possibility of ethnographic research from an interdisciplinary perspective: World. An anthropological examination (available online here).back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
back to top
My teaching interests are mostly in matters of anthropological theory, and on personhood and the family, with an ethnographic emphasis on southeast Africa, southern Europe, and Brazil. I am currently teaching the following modules:
- SE596 - Theoretical Perspectives in Social Anthropology
- SE588 - Advanced Social Anthropology I
- SE587 - Ethnographies 2
- SE801 -Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology I
I am a Social Anthropologist whose work over the years has dealt with
(i) religion, symbolism and power;
(ii) family, kinship and the person;
(iii) ethnicity in colonial and post-colonial contexts; and
(iv) the history of ethnographic methodology.
Over the years, I have carried out prolonged fieldwork in northern Portugal (Alto Minho), southern China (Macau) and northeast Brazil (Bahia). Presently I am writing about personhood, family and community in Bahia, with an emphasis on naming practices and on the way identity and emotion interact creatively in personal ontogeny. I am also engaged in the general effort of rethinking kinship studies along a neurophenomenological perspective.
Current Research Projects:back to top
War in Europe and the Limits of Imagination
This is a lecture about human imagination and the failures of fraternity that João delivered at the School of Fine Arts of Paris on the 24th October 2014 as part of the panel “Voices of Urgency” integrated in the International Fair of Contemporary Art, Paris 2014 (FIAC 2014).
The lecture starts by discussing whether humans can just freely associate or whether they are prone to associate in regular and recurrent ways. In order to exemplify how metaphoric thinking is shared by humans, João gives the example of the poem by E.E.Cummings that is posted below. He discusses how cummings’ notion of “la guerre” (the war) that was so potent in 1914 as an abstract entity of power makes men and women move in spite of their wishes. João argues that, as a crisis of European fraternity, the war continues to makes us move today.
Little ladies more than dead
than dead exactly dance
in my head,precisely
dance where danced la guerre.
la voix fragile
qui chatouille Des
the putain with the ivory throat
Marie Louise Lallemand
n’est-ce pas que je suis belle
chéri? les anglais m’aiment
aussi….”bon dos, bon cul de Paris”(Marie
long lips of
Lucienne which dangle
the old men and hot
men se promènent
doucement le soir(ladies
accurately dead les anglais
sont gentils et les américains
aussi,ils payent bien les américains dance
exactly in my brain voulez
vous coucher avec
moi? Non? pourquoi?)
dead precisely dance
where has danced la
Manon,cinq rue Henri Mounier
voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
te ferai Mimi
te ferai Minette,
dead exactly dance
si vous voulez
mon lézard ladies suddenly
j’m'en fous des nègres
(in the twilight of Paris
Marie Louise with queenly
legs cinq rue Henri
Mounier a little love
begs,Mimi with the body
like une boîte à joujoux, want nice sleep?
toutes les petites femmes exactes
qui dansent toujours in my
head dis donc,Paris
ta gorge mystérieuse
pourquoi se promène-t-elle,pourquoi
éclate ta voix
fragile couleur de pivoine?)
long lips of Lucienne which
dangle the old men and hot men
precisely dance in my head
ladies carefully dead
back to top