Africanism and Racial Democracy: The Correspondence between Herskovits and Arthur Ramos (1935–1949)

Antonio Sérgio Alfredo Guimarães


Melville Herskovits, a disciple of Franz Boas, was the anthropologist responsible for the institutionalization of African Studies in the United States during the 1940s. For fourteen years he corresponded closely with Arthur Ramos, a medical graduate and self-taught academic who institutionalized Black Cultural Studies in Brazil during the same period. Their letters offer us a privileged insight into the transformations of the professional and intellectual ambitions of both men, as well as the development of their respective fields. Attracted by the same culturalist ideal, the two men became great friends. They gradually moved away from each other due to their professional, political, and ideological choices; however, their friendship remained constant, as I intend to show in this text.

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