quarta-feira, 20 de outubro de 2010
The return of the native
Tempos atrás, comecei a organizar minhas notas de aula sobre Durkheim em uma série de posts sobre esse autor (aqui, aqui e aqui). Por uma razão ou por outra, não concluí este trabalho. Agora que estamos estudando o positivismo de Durkheim no curso de metodologia científica da graduação, achei que seria uma boa ideia concluí-lo. Como estou sem tempo, vai uma solução de improviso: a republicação de um artigo que escrevi com Bob Brym e que consiste em uma crítica do Suicídio com base em uma comparação entre seus aspectos teóricos, metodológicos e dados empíricos relativos aos Guarani-Kaiowá do Mato Grosso do Sul. Embora o artigo não tenha sido escrito com o ensino de graduação em mente, pode ser que lance alguma luz sobre as questões que temos trabalhado no curso. Deixo para concluir a organização de minhas notas de aula em outra ocasião - e com uma linguagem mais adequada à graduação.
The Return of the Native: A Cultural and Social-Psychological Critique of Durkheim’s Suicide Based on the Guarani-Kaiowá of Southwestern Brazil
Cynthia Lins Hamlin (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco) e Robert J. Brym (University of Toronto). Artigo originalmente publicado em Sociological Theory 24:1, March 2006.
More than a 100 years after its publication, Durkheim’s Suicide continues to inspire debate over its theoretical, methodological, and empirical claims. Yet few authors have ventured a critique that shows the impact of each of those claims on one another. The importance of such a critique lies in the fact that it is not possible to resolve some of the contradictions in Durkheim’s work unless one examines both the underlying meta-theoretical assumptions and the data that account for its explanatory limitations.
An especially interesting case for illustrating the explanatory limitations of Durkheim’s theory of suicide is the Guarani-Kaiowá people of Brazil. The Guarani are an ethnic group characterized by a unique religious system and language (Guarani). They reside in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil (in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná , São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Mato Grosso do Sul). In 2003, 34,000 Guarani lived in Brazil, subdivided into three groups: the Kaiowá (between 18,000 and 20,000 individuals), the Ñandeva (8,000–10,000), and the Mbya (5,000–6,000) (Almeida and Mura 2003). The Guarani have become known worldwide for their extremely high suicide rate, particularly among the Kaiowá in Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraguay (where they are known as pai-tavyterã) and, to a lesser degree, the Ñandeva. The phenomenon is not known among the Mbya. The Kaiowá of Mato Grosso do Sul are the most prone to suicide,with estimated suicide rates varying between 43 per 100,000 population (between the 1940s and the 1980s) and 305 per 100,000 population (in 1995) (Levcovitz 1998). In 1995, the suicide rate among all indigenous peoples in Mato Grosso do Sul was nearly 21 times higher than the Brazilian annual rate of 3.6 per 100,000 people, and, in 2003, it reached 128 per 100,000 people (Table 1). At that time, 59 percent of the indigenous people were Guarani-Kaiowá, 38 percent were Terena, and 3 percent were of other ethnicities.
The high rate of suicide among the Kaiowá is puzzling. Many explanations have been proposed, but none covers the variety of situations in which suicide has been observed. Some explanations are anthropological, others historical, still others psychiatric-psychological, but most rely on the Durkheimian approach, either by classifying the form of suicide as altruistic (Meihy 1991) or anomic (Brand 1995) or by reformulating the anomic explanation so that suicide is seen as a result of maintaining certain cultural patterns in a greatly changed environment (Levcovitz 1998;Almeida 1998, 1995). In the latter view, the cause of the extremely high suicide rate among the Kaiowá is not a process of acculturation or social disintegration, a thesis that runs against the grain of most contemporary interpretations of suicide among aboriginal peoples. Instead, the decision to take one’s own life is explained with reference to Guarani "supernatural and cosmological themes" (Almeida 1998:21).
The partial character of the explanations listed above results from problems in Durkheim’s work. For one thing, Durkheim regarded "primitive" societies as harmonious and static. He did not consider that social norms, values, and beliefs are constantly reinterpreted by social actors without this leading to social disintegration. Moreover, although Durkheim always stressed that the moral rules governing society are grounded in the belief systems from which they emerge, it was not until The Elementary Forms of Religious Life that he started paying more attention to belief systems under the general category of collective representations. In this sense, Suicide largely overlooked cultural aspects of social life, with particularly damaging consequences for Durkheim’s own definition of suicide as a form of action. Here, we call for the integration of culture into any consideration of the causes of suicide: the return of the native, as it were.
Para baixar o artigo completo, clique aqui.