Aparecida Vilaça named Anthropology’s first Global South Visiting Professor

Dec. 5, 2022

by Vinicius Cardoso Reis (G1), 

Next spring, the Department of Anthropology will welcome Aparecida Vilaça as its first Global South Visiting Professor. Vilaça is Professor of Social Anthropology at Brazil’s Museu Nacional, Latin America’s premier center for ethnographic theorizing and political anthropology. Her work focuses on Indigenous perspectivism and socio-cultural change. First trained in biology, Vilaça has carried out ethnographic research among the Wari’ people in Southwestern Amazonia for over three decades and has published extensively in multiple languages on Indigenous agency, embodiment, kinship, cannibalism, conversion to Christianity, and ecologies of knowledges.

Aparecida Vilaça is the author of multiple books, including Strange Enemies: Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in AmazoniaPraying and Preying: Christianity in Indigenous AmazoniaComendo como Gente: Formas do Canibalismo Wari’. Keen to collaborative research, she has recently co-authored Science in the Forest, Science in the Past. Her book Paletó and Me: Memories of My Indigenous Father has recently won the Casa de las Americas nonfiction award, the most important Latin American book prize. Her powerful essay, Mourning Kin After the End of Cannibalism, has appeared in Sapiens.

In this upcoming spring, Professor Vilaça will be teaching a 6-week graduate seminar on “Indigenous Cosmopolitics: Perspectivism in the Anthropocene.” The seminar will introduce graduate students to ethnographies of Amazonian Indigenous peoples and discuss perspectivist ontologies and modes of engagement in the Anthropocene. Vilaça will also run a workshop, with the support of graduate student Nikhil Pandi. She has recently published, to great acclaim, her first collection of Amazonian short stories, Ficções Amazônicas, along with Francisco Vilaça Gaspar, and will share early draft translations of the stories.

Vilaça is collaborating with the project “Engaging Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges”, led by Professor João Biehl and Professor Agustín Fuentes, and will present initial findings to the Princeton communities of her study of how world-ending appears in Amazonian mythology and how the countings of today’s looming forms of extinction are integrated in Indigenous thought and mobilization.  

Aparecida Vilaça has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University, Cambridge University, King’s College, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, University of Bergen, and Universidad Autonoma de Mexico. Now, the Anthropology Department at Princeton University is thrilled to welcome her to inaugurate the Global South Visiting Professorship initiative. This initiative seeks to maximize intellectual exchanges between Princeton and the Global South while enabling our graduate students to engage with decolonial perspectives within anthropology.