Rosanna Dent

Ph.D. Candidate Department of History and Sociology of Science University of Pennsylvania

2016 to 2017
Fellow in Residence

Studying Indigenous Brazil: The Xavante and the Human Sciences, 1958-2015

Scholars around the world have long considered indigenous bodies, families, and communities to be uniquely productive sites of research. This project examines how scientists from disparate human-centered fields, including genetics, anthropology, and public health, and Indigenous people have engaged one another since the 1950s in Brazil. Through a case study of the Xavante of Mato Grosso, it traces the evolution of transnational intellectual approaches to characterizing human biological and cultural diversity. It shows how Indigenous people have engaged in scientific knowledge making for their own social, economic, and political ends, and have, in the process, shaped the scholars and disciplines that sought to characterize them. Illuminating the practical, intellectual, and ethical challenges for both subjects and scientists, this dissertation contributes to the ongoing discussion of the limitations and possibilities of Indigenous subjects‰Ûª interests in finding adequate representation through contemporary research frameworks.