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Aristoteles Barcelos Neto

Lecturer in the Arts and Anthropology
of the Americas

Visiting Scholar (2007, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, Collège de France)

Post-Doctoral Fellow (2004 - 2006, Universidade de São Paulo)

PhD in Social Anthropology (2004, Universidade de São Paulo)

MPhil in Social Anthropology (1999, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)

BA in Museology (1996, Universidade Federal da Bahia)

Research Interests

Anthropology of South American Indians
Anthropology of Art
Ritual and Cosmology
Visual Anthropology
Museum Anthropology
Ethnographic Collections

Academic Profile

Lecturer in the Arts and Anthropology of the Americas at the SRU/UEA and research fellow at the Laboratory of Image and Sound in Anthropology (LISA) and the Centre for Mesoamerican and Andean Studies (CEMA) both at the University of São Paulo. In 2005 Barcelos Neto was awarded the CNPq/ANPOCS prize for best PhD dissertation in the Social Sciences. From 1998 to 2005 he created systematic and thematic Amazonian ethnographic collections for public institutions in Brazil (Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia da Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador), Germany (Wilhelma zoologisch-botanischer Garten, Stuttgart), Portugal (Museu National de Etnologia, Lisboa) and France (Musée du quai Branly, Paris), and in 2004-5 he produced and directed the show La Danse des Grands Masques Amazonian (The Dance of Amazonian Giant Masks) for the Festival International de Radio France et Montpellier. After this period he became involved in the production and direction of six ethnographic films in Brazil, Peru and France, which have been officially selected for film festivals in North and South America and Europe and viewed online in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Current project - Ritual Masks in Amazonia and the Andes: Ethnographic Theories of Translation

Recent ethnographies of Amerindian rituals revealed a mode of translation in which a specific expressive form is said to transform into another one through the agency of a pivotal expressive form. This mode of inter-semiotic translation is exemplified by the Indians of the Upper Xingu and the Andean Altiplano who respectively explain that myth (speech) becomes dance (movement) through music (sound) and dance becomes story through music. In both cases, ritual is the only ambience where such translations can happen and masks are the final and material result of them. This project aims (1) to investigate how myth (which becomes dance) and dance (which becomes story) operate as meaning givers to masks and (2) to take a position in translation that unveils hidden concepts in the Amerindian modes of translating and in the modes of translating the Amerindians.

Completed project - The Ancashino Trilogy: Ritual and Material Religion in Huaraz, Peruvian Andes

From 2005 to 2012, I produced, directed and co-edited three ethnographic documentaries about ritual as a mode of socio-cosmological thinking in the Peruvian Andes. The documentaries, entitled The Earthquake and the Lord (2005), Living Crosses, Protective Crosses (2006) and Holy Week in the Andes (2012) are focused on the three major Andean annual rituals – the Fiesta Patronal, the Carnival and the Holy Week. The main arguments of this research project are: (1) the process of constructing an ethnography based on documentary film creates a particular type of relationship between the ethnographer and the local collaborators; (2) this particularity has largely to do with perceptions and negotiations of the protagonism of persons (mainly devotees and ritual specialists) and things (mainly sacred objects) in the ethno-graphic process and with local expectations of the film to be an accurate recording of ritual competence and achievement for future generations; (3) the biographical nature of the ethnographic research and the compact and selective nature of film narrative allow us to re-situate and better understand the problem of protagonist roles in Andean rituals. The films of the trilogy are available for free on

Direction and production of ethnographic films

2012 Holy Week in the Andes / Semana Santa en los Andes. Digital video, 44min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP. Subtitles in English.
Watch the film now.

2011 Reeds: Scarcity and Abundance. Digital video, 11min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP. Subtitles in English.
Watch the film now.

2007 Apapaatai. Digital video, 17min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP. Subtitles in English.
Watch the film now.

2006 Cruces Vivas, Cruces Protectoras / Living and Protective Crosses. Digital video, 28min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP.
Watch the film now.

2006 Wauja: a dança das grandes máscaras amazônicas / Wauja: dance of the Amazonian giant masks. Digital video, 28min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP.
Watch the film now.

2005 El Terremoto y el Señor / The Earthquake and the Lord. Digital video, 38min. São Paulo: Laboratório de Imagem e Som em Antropologia/USP.

Watch the film now


Selected Publications


2008 Apapaatai: rituais de máscaras no Alto Xingu. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, 310p. Foreword by Michael Heckenberger. [download PDF review].

2004 Visiting the Wauja Indians: Masks and Other Living Objects from an Amazonian Collection. Lisbon: Museu Nacional de Etnologia, 126p. Foreword by Joaquim Pais de Brito. [download PDF review].

2002 A arte dos sonhos: uma iconografia ameríndia. Lisbon: Assírio & Alvim/Museu Nacional de Etnologia, 276p. Foreword by Elsje Maria Lagrou. [download PDF review].


2012 A origem da arte e o gosto estético entre os Wauja do Alto Xingu. In Marcos de Camargo Von Zuben et al. (orgs.). Sujeito, saberes e práticas sociais. Mossoró: Editora da UERN, pp. 89-136. [download PDF book].


2012 Objetos de poder, pessoas de prestígio: a temporalidade biográfica dos rituais xinguanos e a cosmopolítica wauja. Mundo Amazônico 3: 17-42, Leticia-Bogotá. Edited by Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia. [download PDF article].

2011 A serpente de corpo repleto de canções: um tema amazônico sobre a arte do trançado. Revista de Antropologia, 54(2): 981-1012. São Paulo. [download PDF article].

2011 Yawari: um ritual funerário no tempo das Plêiades. Amazônica – Revista de Antroplogia, 3(1): 202-209. Belém. [download PDF article]

2011 Le réveil des grands masques du Haut-Xingu: Iconographie et transformation. In Jean-Pierre Goulard & Dimitri Karadimas (eds.), Masques des hommes, visages des dieux. Paris: CNRS Éditions, pp. 27-52. [download PDF review]

2009. The (de)animalization of objects: food offerings and the subjectivization of masks and flutes among the Wauja of Southern Amazonia. In: The Occult Life of Things: Native Amazonian Theories of Materiality and Personhood, Fernando Santos-Granero (ed.). Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 128-151. [download PDF review]

2008 Choses (in)visibles et (im)périssable: temporalité et matérialité des objets rituels dans les Andes et en Amazonie. Gradhiva - Revue d’Anthropologie et Museologie, 8 (n.s): 112-129, Paris. [download PDF article]

2007 Witsixuki: desejo, doença e morte entre os Wauja da Amazônia Meridional. Journal de la Société des Américanistes, 93(1-2), Paris. [download PDF article]

2007 Etnografias visuais de rituais ameríndios. Campos – Revista de Antropologia Social, 8(2): 131-133, Curitiba. [download PDF aritcle]

2006 De divinações xamânicas e acusações de feitiçaria: imagens wauja da agência letal. Mana - Estudos de Antropologia Social, 12(2): 285-313, Rio de Janeiro. [download PDF article]

2006 Des villages indigènes aux musées d’anthropologie: de la propriété et vente des objets rituels amazoniens. Gradhiva - Revue d’Anthropologie et Museologie, 4 (n.s): 87-95, Paris. [download PDF article]

2006 Enfermedad de indio: sobre el principio patogénico de la alteridad y los modos de transformación en una cosmología amazónica. Anthropologica, 24: 77-106, Lima.

Campos - Revista de Antropologia Social, 7(1): 9-34, Curitiba. [download PDF article]

2005 A cerâmica wauja: etnoclassificação, matérias-primas e processos técnicos. Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, 15/16, São Paulo. [download PDF article]

2004 As máscaras rituais do Alto Xingu um século depois de Karl von den Steinen. Société Suisse des Américanistes, bulletin 68: 51-71, Geneva. [download PDF article]

2001 Apontamentos para uma iconografia histórica xinguana. In Bruna Franchetto & Michael Heckenberger (orgs.), Os povos do Alto Xingu: história e cultura. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, pp. 193-218. [download PDF article].

2001 O universo visual dos xamãs wauja (Alto Xingu). Journal de la Société des Américanistes, 87: 137-160, Paris.



Introduction to Anthropology

Art, Religion and Ritual in Native South America

The Anthropology of Amazonian and Andean Arts and Music

The Anthropological History of the Black Atlantic

MA Course in the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas

MA Core Course – Theory and Methodology



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