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Evanira Mendes - A Voice from the Brazilian Folklore Movement

Evanira Mendes

A Voice from the Brazilian Folklore Movement

By Eric A. Galm
Hardcover : 9781496855916, 288 pages, 23 b&w illustrations, March 2025
Paperback : 9781496855923, 288 pages, 23 b&w illustrations, March 2025
Expected to ship: 2025-03-17
Expected to ship: 2025-03-17

The long-overdue recognition of a scholar and the vibrant Brazilian folklore she documented


This compilation of Evanira Mendes’s biography and translated publications offers for the first time in English an opportunity to revisit the music and culture of 1950s Brazil. Examining the trajectory of the Brazilian Folklore Movement, this book provides a new perspective on contemporary accounts that have overlooked the participation of women scholars from that era and seeks to grant Mendes the recognition she so richly deserves.

Growing up on a farm in rural São Paulo State, Evanira Mendes (1929–2022) exhibited an early love of folklore, cultivated through the stories, songs, and gossip of wandering travelers in exchange for food and shelter. As she got older, she entered the Conservatório Dramático e Musical de São Paulo to study piano, but her love of folklore persisted, and she was invited to work in the school’s folklore archive and later as a folklore researcher for the São Paulo Folklore Commission from 1949 to 1959. There, she won awards including the national Sílvio Romero folklore medal; won second place in a national folklore monograph competition; helped to organize the folklore pavilion at the IV Centenary of the Founding of São Paulo celebration; and worked closely with important names of the era. Despite these accomplishments, she has essentially been forgotten.

This book follows Evanira Mendes’s experiences working as a field researcher as part of the São Paulo Folklore Commission, her participation and organization at national and international folklore conferences, her participatory research in Afro-Brazilian community dances and observation and critique of Brazilian modern artistic expression in the theaters of São Paulo, and her work as editor of the folklore page and later weekly columnist in the Correio Paulistano newspaper. Her first-person accounts of fieldwork and participation in folklore courses are supplemented by separate published accounts from various sources, helping to compile a comprehensive portrait of music and culture in São Paulo and Brazil from that era.