skip to content

Centre of Latin American Studies


Simón Bolívar Professor 2023/24: Aparecida Vilaça 

Aparecida Vilaça has a PhD in Social Anthropology, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), 1996 and is a Collaborating Professor at the same institution. She is a researcher at the National Research Council (CNPq) and Rio de Janeiro State Research Foundation (FAPERJ).

Aparecida Vilaça was Global South Visiting Professor at the University of Princeton, 2023 and Tinker Professor at the University of Stanford, 2020. She has also been Visiting Professor at the Universities of Cambridge (UK), Bergen (Norway), the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) and the Universidad Autónoma de México.

Since 1986 she has worked among the Wari’ Indigenous People in Southwestern Amazonia, Brazil. She has specialized in the study of socio-cultural changes among indigenous peoples, with an emphasis on conversion to Christianity and schooling. Her current research focuses on the school learning of science by Wari’ children and young people, with the aim at understanding the equivocations produced in the encounter between different ontologies, especially regarding the idea of nature, mathematics and disease.

She recently became interested in fiction and essay writing. Her memoir entitled Paletó and me. Memories of my indigenous father (Stanford University Press, 2021) was awarded the Gold medal in creative nonfiction at the independent publisher book award and, in its Brazilian version, Paletó e eu (Todavia, 2018) first prize for essays, Casa de las Américas. She also co-authored, with Francisco Vilaça Gaspar, the short-stories book Ficções Amazônicas (Todavia 2022).

Among her academic books published in English are Strange Enemies. Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in Amazonia (Duke, 2010), Praying and Preying. Christianity in Indigenous Amazonia (California, 2016), Of Jaguars and Butterflies. Metalogues on issues of Anthropology and Philosophy, with Geoffrey Lloyd (Berghahn, 2023) and Science in the Forest, Science in the Past (co-edited with Geoffrey Lloyd (Hau-Chicago, 2020).