Gaucho Traditionalism, Identity and Culture in Paraná, Brazil

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 63
Oral Presentation
Tiemi COSTA , Federal University of Paraná, Brazil
Miriam ADELMAN , Social Sciences, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
According to both scholars and movement leaders, the Gaucho Traditionalist Movement that emerged in mid-20thcentury Brazil is today one of the largest movements of popular culture in the world. Thus, the research we present here – based on the study of current ideals of work and leisure within the specific context of a Centro de Tradições Gaúchas (hereafter CTG) in the state of  Paraná, and the various events sponsored by this organization, such as rodeos, handcrafts, art and dance festivals, equestrian sports, among others, presents not only a rich case study of how people build identities through a  non-profit civil society organization that seeks to foster and uphold traditions and customs identified as “truly emerging from a “ gaucho past" but also engages with key contemporary sociological debates. We look at the importance that CTG participation takes on in peoples’ lives in and of itself and in relation to other social institutions  (eg work, family, school).  Our field work has shown that participants’ strong commitment to and engagement in recreating and living “gaucho tradition” often goes beyond  common definitions of leisure and provides a comprehensive arena for sociability and agency, where particular understandings of rural and urban, modernity and traditionalisn (among others) are constructed. Yet CTGs and their members are also a part of broader Brazilian culture and social life, where enormous changes – in such key areas such as gender relations, or societal discussions on poverty, inequality and political democracy – are underway.  Thus, any simple “agency vs. alienation” dichotomy becomes impossible for us to sustain, as researchers and scholars who attempt a challenging analysis of the impact that MTG and CTG participation has not only on its members but on broader social and cultural trends.