"Only Anthropophagy unites us." : Anthropophagy as a Solution for Defining Brazilian National Identity

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Title: "Only Anthropophagy unites us." : Anthropophagy as a Solution for Defining Brazilian National Identity
Author: Khromova-Borisova, Fekla
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of World Cultures 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202006223250
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: alue- ja kulttuurintutkimus
Area and Cultural Studies
Region- och kulturstudier
Abstract: In the history of art and culture, there are unique events that change our perception of the world. Within the Brazilian cultural context, the Anthropophagite Manifesto (1928) is definitely such a case. The ideas Andrade presents in this manifesto remain a crucial milestone that modified the perception of Brazilian culture and intercultural relations of Brazil and Europe in the postcolonial framework. Andrade’s unique theory of cultural cannibalism outlived almost one century, yet it still revolutionizes and shakes traditional notions of culture. No matter what aspect of Brazilian culture is taken for analysis, the idea of cultural cannibalism remains a universal solution for defining Brazilian national identity. It all started in 1928 when Brazilian modernist writer Oswald de Andrade decided to create an art manifesto, inspired by the canvas of his wife Tarsila do Amaral Abaporu. He proposed the metaphor of anthropophagus as a figure representing the Amerindian who, in their encounter with the European other, by means of consumption of European flesh, absorbed European cultural commodities and traits, becoming a profoundly hybrid entity. In the present work, I analyze the manifesto and discuss the main ideas it conveys. Despite the truly revolutionary idea of cultural anthropophagy, Brazil went through a search for defining its national identity, and an overall spark of nationalism was present in the early 20th century in Brazil. It was precisely little after 1928 that the regime of Estado Novo proclaimed nationalism a central element vital for the development of the country. Thus, in my thesis, I offer an overview of the main aspects that surrounded the notion of nation in the early 20th century in Brazil: such as Brasilidade, mestizaje, and Brazilian jeitinho. The intersection of nationalism and Modernism was a fundamental phenomenon for 20th century Brazil. Hence, I pinpoint the main artistic tendencies and movements that encompassed and problematized the notions of national and foreign, as well as modern and outdated. The track of the manifesto rewrites the relationship between the colonized and colonizer. Oswald de Andrade turns the cannibal figure into a tool for revising the hierarchical structure of tradition and the opposition of the Old World, the Portuguese crown, and the New World, Brazil. Andrade displaces the colonial hierarchical relations of Europe and Brazil and applies them in the postcolonial context of his modernity. Assigning the same structural paradigm to a new timeframe reveals the inevitable subaltern state of Brazil even 100 years after its independence. Anthropophagite Manifesto gave rise to ideas that were unusually ahead of their time. The metaphor of the cannibal achieved an iconic status because it successfully reconciled the traditional ideas of identity and attempted to eliminate the colonial trauma by assigning the agency in the process of transculturation to Brazil. Since the publication of the manifesto, Andrade’s ideas gained new layers and revealed new meanings for considering Brazilian culture. Thus, I discuss the process of accretion of cultural cannibalism with new interpretations. For the first time in the history of analysis of the Anthropophagite Manifesto, the notion of agency in the postcolonial context is considered, which reveals the nature of the idea of anthropophagy as a solution for the colonial hierarchal structure of cultures and postcolonial trauma.
Subject: Brazilian Modernism
National identity

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