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Foundations: Research and Sponsorship


The Brazilian intellectual Paulo Duarte wrote Tracy Kittredge of the Social Science Division of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1941. Duarte, then living in the United States because of his opposition to Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas, had worked alongside the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in São Paulo in the 1930s. His letter was meant to increase the likelihood that the Rockefeller Foundation support Lévi-Strauss’s candidacy for research funding and teaching, as it had for many other refugee scholars. Thanks to Duarte and others, the Jewish Lévi-Strauss was able to flee Vichy France and continue his research during the war. This document points to two important elements concerning intellectual exchange. First, it underscores just how significant institutions and funding are for creating the conditions of possible for intellectual life. The Rockefeller Foundation, for example, had an enormous impact on determining who was funded and therefore what kinds of projects would come into existence. Second, the document shows how international networks laid the foundation for the development of the social sciences. Here as elsewhere, we are beginning to understand just how important Latin American thinkers were in these global processes. This source is a part of the Intellectual Exchange methods primer.


“Cos Cob (Connecticut), 1.2.1941 Mr. Tracy Kittredge Social Science Division Rockefeller Foundation Prezado Senhor: Peço desculpas por escrever em portuguez, mas é o idioma em que melhor posso exprimir-me. Recem-vindo da Europa, onde me achava como colaborador do professor Paul Rivet, no Museu do Homem, de Paris, acabo de ter noticia de que se acha em mãos da Rockefeller Foundation o nome de sr. Claude Levy Straus como provavel candidato a uma cadeira nos Estados Unidos. Informou-me, entretanto, meu amigo Henri Laugier que o facto de Levy Straus não haver ainda publicado a sua these fazia que se tornasse mais difficil esse convite, pela falta de referencias documentaes acerca da capacidade scientifica daquelle professor. Este o motivo desta carta, sugestão de Madame Standinger. Tendo tido no Brazil o mais estreito contacto com o sr. Claude Levy Straus, posso fornecer a V. Exa. alguns dados sobre a acção daquelle scientista durante tres annos em que ali permaneceu. Esse contacto vem do facto de, àquelle momento, exercer eu como membro da Assembléa Legislativa do Estado de S. Paulo, as funcções de presidente da Comissão de Educação e Cultura daquella camara...”


"Cos Cob (Connecticut), 1.2.1941 Mr. Tracy Kittredge Social Science Division Rockefeller Foundation Dear Sir: I apologize for writing in Portuguese, but it is the language in which I can best express myself. Having just arrived from Europe, where I was working as a collaborator with Professor Paul Rivet, at the Museum of Man, in Paris, I have just learned that Mr. Claude Levy Straus is likely to be named a candidate for a chair in the United States. However, my friend Henri Laugier informed me that the fact that Levy Straus has not yet published his dissertation has made this invitation more difficult, due to the lack of documentary references about the scientific capacity of that professor. This is the reason for this letter, suggested by Mrs. Standinger. Having had in Brazil the closest contact with Mr. Claude Levy Straus, I can give you some information on the activities of that scientist during the three years he was there. My contact with him comes from the fact that, at that time, I served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the State of S. Paulo, and performed the functions of president of the Committee on Education and Culture of that chamber...”


Paulo Duarte to Tracy Kitteridge, Cos Cob, February 1, 1941, Rockefeller Archive Center, Archives, Record Group 1.1 Series 200 United States, box 52 Folder 609 Refugee Scholars- Lévi-Strauss, Claude, 1940-1951. Annotation by Ian Merkel.

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"Foundations: Research and Sponsorship," in World History Commons, [accessed July 1, 2022]