This method of research gave her enough information to assert that, as Mahony (1996) writes, “Bahia’s traditional candombli?? s were matriarchies organized by and for women. ” Landes did not rely on second-hand accounts, but instead witnessed, that “Nago priesthoods in Bahia are all but exclusively female… only women are suited by their sex to nurse the deities.
.. the men in the cult rarely complain of the authority and demands of women,” and that many men actually want to be women because of the power that women hold (Landes, 1940, pps.388-394).While some may argue that her personal attachment clouded her work, it is more likely that the bonds she formed led to more reliable evidence that supported her beliefs. Her active participation allowed her first-hand knowledge that interviews alone would not have afforded her. Nevertheless, Landes’ methods were not without their negative consequences. Some critics argue that her alliance with Carneiro, had “given her intimate access to the life of the candombli?? s,” and that this had compromised her work (Cole, 1994, p.
xxiv).Giesler (1998) notes that Landes “inflated” information that she derived from one of Carneiro’s surveys in order to “favor [her] ‘cult matriarchate thesis'” (p. 260). It is certain that to gain the knowledge that she did, Landes had to truly live and think like Bahians. Clearly, this type of work resulted in the presence of her personal experiences and opinions in her work.
“I discovered that I had become African in my prejudices,” Landes (1994) writes, “I know by now that women are the chosen sex” (pps. 200, 202).One has to wonder at this point whether she is studying an outside culture or if she has become “a real candombli??zeiro,” as Carneiro says to her, and she is simply studying herself (p. 205). Still, in Landes methods, we find the foundations of scholarly participant-oberservation methods as “American anthropology was beginning to define it,” where she was able to “enter deeply into the field culture, joining it twenty-four hours a day, each day, all the months or years of research” (Cole, 1994, p. xxiii; Landes, 1970, p. 121). As Cole (1994) points out, Landes’ work meant “describing internal conflicts, dialogues, and contestations of meaning in a context of change and fluidity,” the state in which she found Brazil (p.
viii).While this work did not always lead to empirical scientific data, it did produce conclusions that later studies upheld. For example, Cole points out that “abundant subsequent research” has shown that candombli?? relations are women-centered “in ways consistent with Landes’ early understanding of social roles in Bahia” (p. xxii). In addition Wafer (1991) describes more recent research as also “supporting Landes’ early observation about homosexuality in the cults” (Cole, 1994, p.
xxii).Even Giesler (1998) points out that while Landes does appear to inflate certain data, Carneiro’s findings were “certainly consistent with the trend [in female leadership] Landes reports” (p. 261). Though Herskovits (1948) did criticize Landes, saying that Landes gave a “false perspective on the role of men and women in the culture that gives the book its misleading title,” her methods were able to garner extensive evidence of African culture in Brazil, findings that provide a wealth of evidence to support Herskovits’ assertion that a great deal of African culture has survived in the Americas (p. 124).Though criticized, Landes’ work made an impact on two important levels. Many of her conclusions, which were afforded her only by of her particular methods, provided the basis for a better understanding of race and gender and the roles they play in our society.
Unscientific as these methods may have been, they produced theories that are still considered historically accurate. Finally, her methods are now seen as innovative, the fundamentals of a form of study that is now widely accepted.References Cited Cole, S. (1994).Introduction: Ruth Landes in Brazil. Writing, Race, and Gender in 1930s American Anthropology.In The City of Women, vii-xxxiv, by Ruth Landes.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Giesler, P. V. (1998). Conceptualizing Religion in Highly Syncretic Fields: An Analog Ethnography of the Candombli?? s of Bahia, Brazil. (Dissertation Excerpt, UMI, Ann Arbor).
Leadership and Gender, Chp. 5, 257-276. Herskovits, M. (1948). Review of The City of Women.
American Anthropologist, 50, 123-125. Landes, R. (1940). A Cult Matriarhate and Male Homosexuality. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 35, 3:386-397. Landes, R. (1970).
A Woman Anthropologist in Brazil. In P. Golde (Ed. ), Women in the Field: Anthropological Experiences.
(pp. 117-139). Chicago: Aldine. Landes, R. (1994).
The City of Women (originally published 1947). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Mahony, M. (1996, April). Review of The City of Women (2nd ed. ), by Ruth Landes. On H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.
Retrieved November 22, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www. h-net. org/reviews/showrev. cgi? path=12150851402117 Wafer, J.
(1991). The Taste of Blood: Spirit Possession in Brazilian Candombli??. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
1 See several examples, including (Landes, 1940, p. 387; Landes, 1994, pps. 145-153; Mahony, 1996).