Volume 2, Issue 2, Autumn 2016
Trajectories of Modernity
Reflections On Brazil And Comparative History
Drawing on archaeological findings about individuals of the archaic Brazilian ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies and on the life and work of a contemporary Brazilian artist, Paulo Nazareth, this paper argues for the use of a timeless history in which chronological historical time will be less important in sociological comparative analyses. There are processes that belong to a significant past which still inform how societies imagine themselves and which cannot be understood from the established perspective of a divided human and natural history. These processes can only be interpreted by overcoming disciplinary constraints and by assuming that history goes beyond the systematic organisation of the facts and historical evidence. There are aspects of American archaic history that are not only completely unknown to us, but they also inform societal practices and imaginary significations of the past, present and future in many New World societies. The paper critically discusses historical-sociological literature on Brazil. Based on a number of perspectives developed in the fields of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and archaeology, it will be argued that the division of the world into ‘civilisation’ and ‘other simplistic social-historical-economical-cultural groups’ is incompatible with a comparative historical sociology that does not aim to hierarchise diff erent societal forms.