Wagley, Charles Walter (1913–1991)

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Wagley, Charles Walter (1913–1991)

Charles Walter Wagley (b. 9 November 1913; d. 25 November 1991), American anthropologist. Born in Clarksville, Texas, and a graduate of Columbia University (B.A., 1936; Ph.D., 1941), Wagley was a leading scholar of Latin American studies and one of the most prominent anthropologists of his time. He directed Columbia's Institute of Latin American Studies from 1961 to 1969 and was the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology from 1965 to 1971 at the same institution. In 1971 Wagley moved to the University of Florida at Gainesville, where he became graduate research professor of anthropology and Latin American studies. Wagley is best known for three field studies he carried out in Brazil between 1939 and 1950. His 1939–1940 study among the Amazonian Tapirapé Indians culminated in several articles and the book Welcome of Tears: The Tapirapé Indians of Central Brazil (1977), which was published in Portuguese in 1988. Collaborative work among the Tenetehara, carried out in 1941–1942 with his friend and colleague Eduardo Galvão, led to the book The Tenetehara Indians of Brazil (1949). The most widely known of Wagley's works, Amazon Town: A Study of Man in the Tropics (1953), is based upon field-work carried out first in 1948 among farmers and rubber collectors in the town of Itá (a pseudonym) on the banks of the Amazon.

In later years Wagley dedicated himself to writing works on race and class in Brazil, including Minorities in the New World: Six Case Studies (1958), with Marvin Harris; The Latin American Tradition: Essays on the Unity and the Diversity of Latin American Culture (1968); and Race and Class in Rural Brazil (1952), an edited volume based upon the Bahia State-Columbia University Community Study Project directed by Wagley in collaboration with the Brazilian anthropologist Thales de Azevedo.

See alsoAnthropology; Race and Ethnicity.


Maxine L. Margolis and William E. Carter, eds., Brazil, Anthropological Perspectives: Essays in Honor of Charles Wagley (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Wagley, Charles. Looking through the Kaleidescope: Essays in Honor of Charles Wagley. Gainesville: Dept. of Anthropology, University of Florida, 1990.

                                      Janet M. Chernela

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Wagley, Charles Walter (1913–1991)

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