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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970

Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos vol.19 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan./Mar. 2012 



The utopian Darcy Ribeiro archive



Luciana Quillet Heymann

Associate Professor at the Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil/Fundação Getulio Vargas. Praia de Botafogo, 190/14º andar 22250-900 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil




The project in memory of anthropologist, writer and politician Darcy Ribeiro is analyzed, with emphasis on the relationship he had with his personal archives and the creation of the Darcy Ribeiro Foundation, established to give continuity to his 'legacy.' It highlights the influences present in the formation of his archive and presents an ethnography that seeks to restore the historicity of the archive. It reveals the significance attributed to it by the creator himself, and after his death, by those responsible for his memory. From this study, an attempt is made to evaluate the analytical return from socio-historical approaches to the archives.

Keywords: personal archive; memory; institution of memory; Darcy Ribeiro (1922-1997).



I had wanted the glory to remain after me, for a long time,
riding in the memory of the grandchildren of the son I never had.
Remain? But how? I do not know.

Darcy Ribeiro


In the field of archivology, one of the first thoughts to occur with regard to personal archives, or, more precisely, to draw attention to the personal process of archiving records can be found in a piece by Sue McKemmish published in 1996 in the magazine Archives and Manuscripts. In an article entitled "Evidence of me...," the Australian archivist views the keeping of personal documents as "a kind of witness" that certain people see themselves as compelled to bear with regard to their life, both in the sense of preserving the memory of past experiences and in constituting their personal identity through the formation of an archive. The piece sets up interesting connections with other fields of knowledge which deal with the role of 'narratives of self' in the formation of a concept of self, relating the construction of personal archives to this topic. McKemmish (1996) also suggests that different types of documents contained in personal archives supply different kinds of 'evidence' in relation to their owners. Thus, for example, letters supply information regarding the correspondents, but, more importantly, they are evidence of the relationships existing between them and thus provide the context within which the information contained in the documents should be interpreted.

If on the one hand it is helpful to think of an archive as a kind of 'narrative of self,' on the other hand not every formation of an archive is motivated by the desire for a memorial. Certain documents, such as personal diaries, are socially attributed to this motivation; but to look for it in every document kept by an individual would amount to assigning a single meaning (very often conferred ex post) to different actions taken at different times and for different reasons. It is not only the various temporalities which are expressed in personal archives, and which mark distinct stages in the relationship of the owners with their papers over the course of time. Various motives and driving forces can be seen in ethnographies concerned with the recovery of history and the contexts in which documents were accumulated and kept.

What concerns and expectations guide the procedures for archiving adopted by individuals? What significance can be placed on a personal archive, firstly by the owner himself and, after his death, by his heirs, who are often left with the task of deciding on the final destiny of the papers? These are the questions which guide this approach to the personal archive of Darcy Ribeiro (1922-1997). The main aim is not to explore the riches of the approximately 60 thousand documents which it comprises, but to recall the relationship which the owner established with his papers over the years. Through looking at the principles of the archive, a study can be made of both his self-image and his public conduct: what does the archive witness or, in McKemmish's language (1996), what "evidence of Darcy" does his archive provide?

This analysis also reveals the structure through which the archive passed into the public domain, the Fundação Darcy Ribeiro (Fundar; Darcy Ribeiro Foundation). Darcy himself set it up a few years before his death, with two objectives: to provide for the continuation of his projects, namely to ensure that the causes which he fought for throughout his life - which he called his 'utopias' - would be upheld by his followers; and to house what he considered his collection. His aim was to ensure that his memory endured, overcoming death and time. I will therefore deal, albeit briefly, with the memorial project which occupied Darcy Ribeiro in the last years of his life and which was subsequently taken up by those who had become responsible for the management of his 'legacy.'


Brief biography of a persecuted man

Before addressing the Darcy Ribeiro Foundation and the archive, a little biographical information is appropriate for readers who are not familiar with Darcy's career. The aim is not to analyze his extensive intellectual and political activities, but only to sketch a profile of this anthropologist, politician and writer who referred to himself as a man of deeds.1

Darcy Ribeiro was born on October 26, 1922 in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In 1939 he moved to Belo Horizonte in order to study medicine, but abandoned the course when he realized he had no vocation for the profession and returned to his native city in 1943. The following year, after meeting the American sociologist Donald Pierson, who offered him a scholarship, he moved to São Paulo and enrolled in the School of Sociology and Politics, where he graduated in 1946 with a major in ethnology.

In 1947 Darcy was engaged as a naturalist by the Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI; Indian Protection Service). In the ensuing years he spent long periods living in indigenous communities in the south of Mato Grosso and in the Amazon forest, developing his ethnological studies. In 1950 he published his first book, Religião e mitologia kadiwéu (Religion and mythology among the Kadiwéu), which won him the Fábio Prado Prize. In 1952 he became director of the Studies Section of SPI, and it was on his initiative that the Museu do Índio was inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro the following year, where two years later he set up the first post-graduate course in cultural anthropology in Brazil.

Darcy Ribeiro entered the field of education - from which he would never again be absent - in the mid 1950s, when he also became a member of the teaching staff of the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia da Universidade do Brasil, in charge of the chairs in Brazilian ethnology. In 1957 the educationalist Anísio Teixeira - by whom he was strongly influenced - appointed him as director of the Social Studies Division of the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Educacionais (Brazilian Center for Educational Research), linked to the Ministry of Education. With Anísio he mounted a defense line of free, secular public education. In 1959 he was appointed by President Juscelino Kubitschek - with whom he had collaborated in defining government educational policies - to set up the Universidade de Brasília (UnB). When the university was inaugurated in 1961 he was named as its first rector.

In August 1962 he was appointed Minister of Education in the government of João Goulart, joining the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister Hermes Lima. In January 1963, with the return of the country to a presidential system, he left the Ministry and became Chief of Staff to the President of Brazil. Discontent among conservative sectors, both civil and military, with the course that the government was pursuing led to the coup that deposed the president on March 31, 1964. Darcy left the country in early April and went into exile in Uruguay.

Between 1964 and 1976 he spent 12 years in exile and lived in four Latin American countries - Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile and Peru - where he lectured in anthropology and took part in reforming university systems. In 1971 he moved to Chile, where he worked for President Salvador Allende. And later he accepted an invitation to work with the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado and to take part in the program to create a Popular Center of Studies, the result of a partnership between the government of Peru and the United Nations Development Program.

In December 1974, suffering from lung cancer, Darcy was permitted by the Brazilian government to return to Brazil to undergo surgery, and remained for six months before returning to Peru. He made a final return in 1976 and, following the Amnesty Law of 1979, was readmitted to the Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

In 1980, with the end of the two-party system, he joined Leonel Brizola in setting up the Partido Democrático Trabalhista (PDT). In 1982 he became the party's candidate for vice governor of Rio de Janeiro on the Brizola ticket. Following victory in the election Darcy combined the vice-governorship with the post of Secretary for Science and Culture. He was also appointed to coordinate the Programa Especial de Educação (PEE), the main task of which was to set up the Centros Integrados de Educação Pública (Cieps).



In 1986 he ran for governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, but lost to Wellington Moreira Franco, the candidate of the Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro. In September 1987 he was invited by the governor of São Paulo, Orestes Quércia, to work with Oscar Niemeyer in setting up the Memorial da América Latina, which was inaugurated in January 1989.

In October 1990 he was elected senator for the State of Rio de Janeiro for the PDT, with Leonel Brizola being elected for a further term as state governor in the same election. In September 1991 he was granted leave of absence from the Senate to become Extraordinary Secretary for Special Programs in the Rio de Janeiro state government, where his main task was to oversee the resumption of the Cieps program and coordinate the creation of the Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense (Uenf) in Campos. He returned to the Senate at the end of 1992.

In 1994 he then ran as candidate for vice-president of Brazil on the ticket headed by Leonel Brizola of the PDT. They came in fifth place among eight contenders. In December of the same year Darcy was admitted to hospital in Rio de Janeiro for the treatment of a further bout of late-stage cancer, but a month later he left hospital without medical sanction and installed himself in his beach house in Maricá (RJ), because, he declared, he needed a refuge to finish his book O povo brasileiro (The Brazilian people), published the following year. He then returned to the Senate, where he concentrated his efforts on the drafting of the new Lei de Diretrizes e Bases da Educação Nacional (LDB), which became law in 1996. During this year he wrote a weekly column in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper and published Diários índios (Indian diaries), which received the Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda Prize in the Social Essay category.

Even a summarized presentation of the biography of Darcy Ribeiro ought to record his literary achievements. His first and most praised novel, Maíra, was published in 1976 and later translated into various languages. It was followed by O Mulo (The mule), Utopia selvagem (Savage utopia) and Migo, as well as a number of other books, among which should be mentioned the six volumes which make up Studies in the Anthropology of Civilization - a series which terminated with O povo brasileiro (The brazilian people).

Darcy died on February 17, 1997 in Brasilia at the age of 74, but he had lived for about twenty years under the shadow of death, which - as his colleagues confirm - imbued his intellectual and political activities with urgency and total dedication.2 As well as a sense of urgency in relation to his work, the prospect of death elicited an autobiographical impulse, expressed in various works in which he reviewed his career and defined himself intellectually and politically. The anguish of mortality and the fear of oblivion are the subject of his reflections in Testemunho (Testimony), published in 1990, in Confissões (Confessions), which he wrote in 1996 and did not live to see published, and in the novel Migo, of 1988, which he classed as a confessional novel (Ribeiro, 1997, p.515). In Migo, we read:

Yearning for myself. Yearning for my past, for those who were and those who should have been. To write memories is to touch the living nerve, mine and yours, revived, recollecting so as to set here, restored, joys and pains. Sentences and glories that were sleeping, stifled, forgotten, return to me, are revived afresh. I feel yearning. Yearning for whom? ...

The fair skined lady, who came after years of waiting, came and remained.

Pagan peoples whom I saw, loved, they were so complete.

Works which I built and which will endure, bearing witness.

Music, filling estate-wide spaces in me.

Classes that I gave, so very many, all forgotten.

That gush of blood in the hotel.

The shark bite that took the better half of me.

My fear-panic in knowing myself to be vulnerable, mortal.

The election lost and the glory glimpsed.

This contradictory writing.

What came to me, went away, only left me emptiness. Who came to me arrived, departed.

Who will come to me in the next hour? Will there be a next hour? (p.97).3

The will to conquer time and oblivion and remain in the memory of future generations is explicit. The desire to be remembered would be achieved in the works which he constructed and which would remain as witnesses, in contrast to the "countless" classes which he gave, condemned to be forgotten. Darcy would be remembered through his works - or "doings," as he liked to call them - and not through his academic activities.4 This, however, did not make him comfortable.

Despite defining himself as a man of action, he complained that he was not recognized as an intellectual and a man of ideas: "I deeply fear that I will be remembered in the future more for what I have done than for my ideas, which would be very unfair" (Ribeiro, 1997, p.521). This passage, written in 1996, when the proximity of death had encouraged him to write his Confissões - a last opportunity to define himself - provides evidence of his preoccupation with the way in which he would be remembered. More than this, Darcy was expressing a feeling of impotence with regard to the memories that his name would evoke when he could no longer take the lead in his own interpretation.

His frustration with regard to being forgotten as a thinker was undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that he had not trained any followers in the academic field, a fact of which he was acutely aware. Although he does not say so explicitly in his writings, when referring to the ability and originality of the great names in the social sciences and to the fact that they had not left any disciples, he seems to have founded a select group of unique thinkers, whose intellectual independence was linked to the impossibility of becoming more numerous. This group, to which he tacitly seems to have affiliated himself, is made up of Roquette Pinto, Curt Nimuendajú, Arthur Ramos, Gilberto Freyre, Manuel Bonfim, Capistrano de Abreu and Josué de Castro.5 The only Brazilian social scientist who left disciples and merited the respect of Darcy in his books of memoirs was Florestan Fernandes, a contemporary and militant of the left like himself, whose reconstruction of Tupinambá life Darcy admired. His greatest praise, however, was directed towards Gilberto Freyre, the only modern social scientist in Brazil who impressed him and whose most admirable feature was, precisely, independence, the "rejection of old theories" (Ribeiro, 2001, p.36).

The concern with permanence thus assumes, in the case of Darcy, complex proportions: how to guarantee the preservation of his memory and to do justice to his career, if he had no children and did not leave disciples? How to ensure that he would be remembered by generations to come as a man of ideas and action? Inspired by these questions, at the same time as he was writing his memoirs and revising his latest work, he started the project whose chief purpose was to enable him to endure.


The institutional ideal of being Darcy

Although it was officially constituted by legal deed on January 11, 1996, the history of the Fundação Darcy Ribeiro began a few years earlier, as witnessed by documents from the personal archive of its founder, which are dated 1993.6 In a draft of the statutes, Fundar is defined as "a cultural institution devoted to study and action in the areas of education, science and culture, as a not-for-profit legal entity governed by private law," and its assets consist of ownership of the copyright in the scientific and literary works of Darcy Ribeiro as well as property which he or other persons may endow it with by way of donation.

The institution's aims, listed in the original document and generally speaking maintained in later versions, are concentrated on the carrying out of projects which have the following objectives: solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Brazil; the defense of Amazonia and the Pantanal "as the great gardens of the Earth"; the maintenance of the Parque Indígena do Xingu and the Museu do Índio; artistic progress and development in Brazil; the planning and setting up of new universities and the reform of existing ones; the renewal of primary and secondary public education; the training of teaching staff, preparation of curricula and the publication of text books; the production of educational films for primary and secondary schools; the promotion of distance learning through multi-media resources; and the reissue of the works of Darcy Ribeiro. His personal archive is not mentioned in the document, leaving the inference that when Fundar was conceived there was no place in it for the documentary legacy. The institutional plan seems in fact to be centered on the continuance of his political and ideological legacy, as is well attested by a document in the archive, undated but certainly later than 1995:

When they suggested the creation of a Foundation in my name, the idea produced in me a fear that I would be giving birth to another archaic institution, such as the Fundação Getulio Vargas or the Fundação Roberto Marinho. Mine would be a poor little institution, without power and without funds to grow and flourish. ...

It finally dawned on me that I really did need to create this Fundação Darcy Ribeiro - Fundar. I have to transfer to somebody or to some institution those tasks which, for good or ill, I have been working on throughout my life and which, without me to take care of them, would become subject to the vagaries of fortune.

If the institutional aims listed in the draft statutes of 1993 were retained in later documents, the same cannot be said of the assets of Fundar or of its headquarters. In the set of draft statutes dating from after that year but preceding the final version of 1996, the list of assets is expanded, and goes on to include, in addition to the copyright in the works of Darcy, his library, art works and furniture. The inclusion among the assets of the copyright in the works of his first wife, the anthropologist Berta Gleiser Ribeiro, as well as his library and other property, is inserted in handwriting in one of the versions of the statutes, showing that the idea of the institute housing the collections of both of them was arrived at over a period of time. An explicit reference to the archives of Darcy and Berta Ribeiro, to be deposited in the headquarters of the Foundation "for academic use," appears for the first time in one of the drafts of 1995, in which there is also a mention, as the headquarters of the institution, of the Solar da Baronesa in Campos (RJ), which would be made available to it by the Fundação Mantenedora da Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense (Sponsor Foundation of the Norte Fluminense State University). In the city of Rio de Janeiro there would be, as shown by some of the drafts, an office, or according to other drafts the headquarters, at the residential address of Darcy Ribeiro on Bolívar Street.

It is a fact worthy of note that the personal archive of Darcy Ribeiro does not occupy a prominent place in the first drafts of the institutional project. According to Cláudia Zarvos, his second wife, Darcy did not view the archive as having any 'value in itself,' or as an asset which might interest posterity - as opposed to his library, which in his eyes possessed great importance, both for the volumes that he had collected and for its potential in supplying the key to understanding him as an intellectual. On the basis of his twenty thousand books it would be possible to reconstruct the course of his intellectual formation, and through the dedications contained in many of the volumes, to reveal the network of his academic contacts. According to Cláudia, this aspect would explain the desire on his part, expressed on various occasions that the library should not be broken up after his death.7 More than this: while he was setting up Fundar, he detected gaps in his library and arranged for the purchase of the volumes which would fill them. Among his papers are at least two lists of books "for the Darcy Ribeiro Library," one consisting of 112 titles - the majority relating to the history of Brazil - and another much longer list, sent by the Walter A. Cunha Bookshop, comprising several thousand volumes, including some collections - Brasiliana, Documentos Brasileiros, Reconquista do Brasil, and dozens of important Brazilian writers, including Machado de Assis, José de Alencar and Érico Veríssimo. It was not possible to figure out if these works were ordered as a whole or only partially. It is however important to stress Darcy's concern: whenever his library was to be consulted, all the books that he considered important should be available.



It would appear that this ideal of completeness was pursued so that the library would explain the basis on which Darcy constructed his theory of human development and, within it, his exposition of the "adventure of the making of Brazil in time and space" (Ribeiro, 1997, p.507). The comprehensiveness of his theory ought also to correspond to the comprehensiveness of his intellectual references. In this sense, the books should provide a wide coverage of the subjects of sociology, political science, economics, world history, literature and, above all, Brazilian social thought and the history of Brazil. To represent his thought in an adequate way, the Darcy Ribeiro Library needed to be comprehensive.

The way in which he sought to complete his library so as to make it the mirror image of what he wanted to reflect constitutes a first element of reflection on the dimension constructed from the legacies. Because, if the idea of a personal library demonstrates precisely the gradual accumulation of works which relate to the interests of an individual throughout his career, permitting a glimpse of his intellectual journey, this is evidently an effort to represent this journey. This movement is consistent with Darcy's wish to be remembered not only for his 'edifying' works but also for his ideas, and suggests the expectation of future recognition of the value of his intellectual contribution.

There is no question that the library of Darcy is a 'fabrication' or of qualifying it as unauthentic, to use a category frequently associated with studies of legacies, analyzed by Gonçalves (2007) when investigating projects in dispute as to the legitimacy of speaking in the name of the best representation - namely the most 'authentic' representation - of the identity and memory as a whole. It is not my intention to get into this kind of debate. It seems to me that it is better to accept the suggestion of the author to move away from the authentic/inauthentic argument and look at the 'constructed' dimension of cultural legacies. In this way, more interesting than to think in terms of authenticity is to realize that 'documentary legacies' (whether they are accumulations of a personal or collective nature) are always the result of social processes in which memory and the past are objectified in collections, which are held to have the capacity to represent them.

Returning to the documents in the Darcy Ribeiro archive, it will be seen that the history of the creation of Fundar did not end with the signing of the legal deed on January 11, 1996. The document affords a glimpse of the uncertainty as to the headquarters of the institution, a question that would occupy Darcy until his death. Although it maintains the objectives envisaged in the draft of 1995, the final document does not mention the agreement with Uenf. It states in this respect: "the Foundation will have as its main working nucleus (base) the area which is assigned to it by the Public University on the decision of the President, where the Library of Darcy Ribeiro, together with his archives and those of Berta Gleiser Ribeiro, will be installed for academic use."

During this period negotiations began between Darcy and the then rector of UnB, João Cláudio Todorov, with a view to the installation of Fundar on the campus of that university. In a letter of March 22, 1996, Darcy supplies information to the Rector and the Governing Council for the purpose of taking a "further step in our conversation," gives details of the Foundation's architectural project as conceived by João Filgueiras Lima8, and confirms his wish that UnB, an institution to which he declares himself to have "strong links," should accept Fundar, assigning it a space and assisting in its construction and maintenance.

The question however was a long way from a final solution. Darcy died in February 1997 without seeing the institution, which would bear his name, take concrete shape, and although it had legal existence, the place where it would be installed had still not been defined and it had not commenced its activities. On his death, his colleagues set up the apartment on Bolívar St. as the headquarters of the institution; two years later, with funds from the sales of foreign editions of Darcy Ribeiro's books, they acquired a house in the Santa Teresa district of Rio de Janeiro, where Fundar was actually installed. Dozens of boxes of his documents - from the beach house on his property in Maricá, the apartment in Copacabana, the apartment of Berta Ribeiro, his office in the Brazilian senate, and from his native city, Montes Claros - remained for several months in the attic of this house awaiting technical treatment.


The utopian Darcy Ribeiro archive

My contact with the archive took place before I could imagine that it would become the subject of academic consideration.9 In the second half of 1999, representatives of Fundar contacted the Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil (CPDOC; Center for Research and Documentation of the Contemporary History of Brazil), at the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), for the purposes of reaching an agreement for the treatment of the archive. This resulted in the preparation of a plan involving the employment, for a period of 18 months, of two researchers and four trainees from the Center, in order to sort and organize the papers, amounting to tens of thousands of documents. It was my task to coordinate this work, which commenced in August 2000.

As mentioned earlier, at first Darcy Ribeiro did not consider that the collection of documents had a 'value in itself,' and there is no record of any concern on his part with regard to the passing of his archive into the public domain, as opposed to what happened with his library. However, the interest shown by researchers in various areas in consulting the documentation soon showed the symbolic importance of the archive, and those in charge of Fundar realized that through the archive it would be possible to highlight the importance of the institution itself and bring it closer to the academic community, thus restoring the connection which had been lost with the death of its founder.10

The opening of the boxes and the preliminary classification of some 60 thousand documents in the archive revealed their richness, both from the standpoint of chronological range and from the variety of their content: the documents go from the early 1940s to 1997, but the majority of them date from the 1980s and 1990s. At this point it is appropriate to offer a brief summary of the archive's content, so as to afford the reader a more precise view of it, before going on to analyze its 'structure.'

The number of boxes seemed to indicate a very significant body of documents, but in many instances, through being the result of the collecting activities of the owner or other persons, in other words because they depend, on the one hand, on the "desire to keep" (Vianna, Lissovsky, Sá, 1986) and, on the other hand, because they have passed through stages of clear-outs or accidental loss, personal archives do not satisfactorily record, from the historian's point of view, the career of their owner. In many instances documents concentrate on a period of activity or one of the aspects of his life experience (public or private), and it may even happen that the archive is, quite simply, unrevealing.

In the case of the Darcy Ribeiro archive, the number of different fields in which his career was played out is reflected in the documents, even though the distribution of documents by subject matter and period is very unequal. In the archives of public figures it is common to find a preponderance of documents for the periods during which they held public office, because the presence of secretaries and aides normally guarantees a more systematic collection of records. It is also an important consideration in such collections to retain documentary evidence of the actions of the person concerned. In line with this rule, the exercise of public office by Darcy - as vice-governor and secretary for Science and Culture in the first Leonel Brizola administration; as state secretary for Special Projects in the second Brizola administration; and as Federal Senator - produced a large amount of documents. The whole of the 1º Programa Especial de Educação (1st Special Education Program), involving the setting up of the Cieps in the State of Rio de Janeiro, is very well documented, as is the renewal of the program in the second administration. From the Senate period, mention should be made of the LDB documentation and the publication of 16 issues of the magazine Carta: Falas, Reflexões, Memórias, a review of restricted circulation which Darcy published, taking advantage of his access to the Senate printing office.

His positions as minister of Education and Chief of Staff, both of them under the João Goulart government, are sparsely documented. Here it must be remembered that it was for short periods that he occupied the two posts, from August 1962 to January 1963, and from that date until the military coup in March 1964, respectively. This, however, is not the only explanation for the paucity of documentation for this period. When he left Brazil following the coup, all Darcy's documents, including those he gathered together on leaving Brasilia, were sent to Montes Claros. They were kept there under very precarious conditions, and many suffered irreparable damage.



The archive also records a large part of Darcy's professional career, with documents going back to the period when he joined the SPI, including the field diaries of his expeditions to indigenous groups. There is also a large number of letters from his period of exile, as well as his extensive correspondence with Brazilian and foreign intellectuals, friends, both his wives and his mother, Fininha.

The originals of practically all Darcy's works are there, as well as the works of others sent to him so that he might write a preface, or so that they could be included in events he was organizing, or simply for his comments. One can not only see the process of how his texts were produced in the various versions which are to be found in the archive, but also his negotiations with various publishers, both in Brazil and abroad.

There are, of course, documents of a highly personal nature, such as certificates, diplomas, honorary titles, medical and bank documents, property deeds, diaries and notebooks containing personal entries. There are also records of his active participation in the PDT and of the electoral campaigns in which he was involved, always on behalf of this party, from 1982 to 1994, but not from the period when he was a member of the Communist Party in the 1940s.

The classification of the material was supported by certain lists that indicated the origin of the various batches making up the documentation and the contents of various boxes. These lists, prepared according to different methods, indicated that the documents concerned had various origins and that they had been organized by different persons, using subjective criteria - not even the sets of documents with the same origin were organized in accordance with a single principle of classification.

The lists gave only a general indication of the contents of the boxes. When they were opened, however, it was found that certain documents listed were not there and that there was a disparity in the contents of the files: some contained dozens of documents, others only one. This feature was discovered some time later, when our approach to the archive had ceased to be technical and, under the requirements of academic research, had assumed an ethnographical dimension. Despite their lack of reliability in describing the contents of the boxes, the lists contained interesting indications with regard to the various inputs in the formation of Darcy's archive. The oldest was that of his first wife, Berta Ribeiro, an ethnologist specializing in indigenous cultural material, who was responsible for organizing her husband's correspondence into files, on which she wrote in pencil the name of the writer and the country from where the letter was sent or the institution which had sent it, and in accordance with her own criteria established the personal, institutional or geographical classification of the correspondence. In the documents from Maricá, for example, some files were marked "organized by Berta."

Berta and Darcy remained married from 1948 to 1975 and during all this time, according to a number of witnesses, she was a dedicated and discreet collaborator, helping her husband in his research and creating the conditions in which he could pursue his projects.11 Besides acting as his secretary, she was responsible for organizing his papers, and even after they separated she continued to keep documents which concerned him, such as newspaper reports and interviews.

A curious circumstance concerns the publication of Diários índios in 1996. Berta had kept all the letters Darcy had sent her between 1949 and 1951, when he made two expeditions to the villages of the Urubu-Kaapor Indians. In addition, the field notebooks which Darcy had written during these journeys and which were sent to her in Rio to be typed up, had also been preserved. The book was the result of an editing of the notebooks and letters, material which had been kept by Bertha for more than forty years. Thus, documents which she had kept - and which therefore formed part of her personal archive - made the publication of Darcy's book possible, and were subsequently incorporated in his archive. This incorporation reflects a somewhat careless attitude with regard to the provenance of the documents, as I had the opportunity to point out (Heymann, 2005). In contrast to what the archivist's profession proclaims, the view among those in charge of Fundar was that because they reflected the activities of Darcy, those documents should belong to his archive and not that of Berta.

The role of Berta Ribeiro in the construction of the documentary memorial to Darcy was, in this sense, not negligible. She was present during the organization of the documents kept by their owner dating from the period of their life in common and she was present as the guardian of documents which came from her house at the time the Darcy Ribeiro archive was assembled, by then under the aegis of Fundar, and Berta was also the guardian of a common memory which, twenty years after the couple separated, took the form of a book which recalled the experiences of Darcy among the Indians. It is possible that, at the time this material was handed over, she already knew of Darcy's proposal to keep both their archives with Fundar, which would mean that, for posterity, documents and careers which had gone separate ways would, in a way, be reunited again.

Berta's input is also noticeable by its absence: the documents diminish between 1976 and 1982, that is, between the time the couple separated and the date when Darcy became vice-governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro. This decrease, which coincides with the return of Darcy from exile, is indicative of the importance of those persons who helped him in the task of building 'his' documentary memorial.

From the moment he returned to public life, the building of his archive followed another course and another logic, dictated partly by the type of documentation which began to accumulate in his office. Official letters, legal notices, forms, architectural plans, and administrative documents relating to the setting up of the PEE, the construction of the 'Sambadrome' and the foundation of the Casa França-Brasil (Franco-Brazilian House), for example, were accumulated in the period in which Darcy served as vice-governor and state secretary in the Brizola administration.

As well as its typological characteristics, the documentation which records Darcy Ribeiro's tenure of public offices is also marked by other influences, especially during the period in which his activities in the Senate coincided with the second Brizola administration, obliging him to divide his time between Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. A busy correspondence between his staff in the Senate and his secretaries in Rio reflects this dual role. His archive contains this correspondence, generally little handwritten notes giving details of jobs carried out by his two staffs and information on Darcy's engagements. The correspondence also shows that at this stage the management of his papers was the task of his secretaries. This does not form a specific part of the Darcy Ribeiro archive. The process of selecting and ordering the documents is very often a collective enterprise, especially in the case of public figures, which makes us ponder a common ground that associates, in an immediate way, personal archives and personal memories. In general, such archives result from policies of accumulation governed by different subjective choices, expressed as much in the choice of documents to keep as in successive assessments, disposals and arrangements of the papers. A greater or lesser influence by the owner only becomes apparent through an investigation which is concerned with his relationship with the archive and with the practices which have formed it.

In our research on the Darcy Ribeiro archive, Elyan Dellaperuta and Gisele Moreira were valuable sources of information. The former was head of the secretarial staff in the vice-governor's office of Darcy Ribeiro, returned to work with him on the setting up of Uenf, and finally joined his senatorial staff and took charge of the office in Rio de Janeiro, which operated from his home on Bolívar st. During this period she worked as the senator's private secretary. Her report shed light on differences between various sets of documents which are now reunited in the Darcy Ribeiro archive.

It was difficult to try to organize all the material which passed through the office. Matters which related to the office were filed there, and matters which were more concerned with the political field were kept in his house. He had an office in Copacabana. ... Later, there were files which were political, whose content was political, or private - because he corresponded with Mitterand, with intellectuals, such as Gabriel Garcia Márquez - all this also went to his home, because it was private. And the books; all published material, texts, were kept at his home. ... Everything bureaucratic was kept in his office: regarding Cieps; regarding universities, Uenf, which he was setting up; the Sambadrome, which was his creation; the Public Library; the Zumbi dos Palmares. All this was kept in the office (Dellaperuta, May 9, 2008).

The presence of all this documentation in the private archive of Darcy Ribeiro sheds light on the old question of the privatization of documents of a public nature by holders of political and administrative positions, in view of the fact that the documents which were accumulated and filed in his office - or a part of them - ended up being transferred to his private residence. Previously, despite the difficulties presented by the task, an attempt was made to maintain a distinction between these two areas. However, even though the arrangement adopted for the archive in Fundar envisioned specific divisions for the documents relating to public affairs, the original distinction between the 'office archive' and the 'home archive' has disappeared. Today the personal archive of Darcy Ribeiro is composed of groups of totally separate records, organized in accordance with principles which relate to different worlds and brought together under the all-encompassing designation Arquivo Darcy Ribeiro.

Thus, in addition to the fact that policies for retention vary over the course of time - indicating distinct temporalities in the formation of the personal archive - and that various subjective choices are involved in the selection and storage of documents, filing procedures which happen simultaneously can obey different criteria and rules, according to the place in which they occur. Yet in a way this plurality of times, dynamics and personnel responsible for the archive becomes obscured, and the actual circumstances of the formation of the documentary corpus become 'lost.' To retrieve these dynamics through an ethnography of the processes involved in the construction of the archive amounts to a restoration of its actual historicity.

The evidence of Elyan Dellaperuta allows us to look closely at the relationship of the owner and his documents and re-assess the characteristics of this documentation. It is worth returning to her report, in order to understand the logic which governed the selection and retention of Darcy's papers: Sometimes, with things which were very important to him, he used to tell me how to keep it. For example, from nineteen eighty something he had this thing about the Universidade da Paz (Peace University). It's interesting that he was a visionary. No-one used to speak about it, and he was already talking about it in 1983 or 84. He used to say: "Look, this is very important. I want to keep this. Make a file for the Universidade da Paz" (Dellaperuta, May 9, 2008).12

The statement of Gisele Jacon de Araújo Moreira - anthropologist, technical aide in the Senate and private secretary to Darcy - also helps to understand the logic in the archiving of the documents, which was delegated to his secretaries but supervised in large part by Darcy with regard to the subjects and projects which might interest him in the future.

He had a very systematic method, in the sense of requiring everything to be kept and organized. He used to get very angry when he couldn't find what he wanted. And he kept a kind of order in his head. So, when a paper arrived or something which interested him, for example, for the articles he wrote for Folha de S. Paulo, he used to say: "Keep this in X file." "Put this in such-and-such a file... I'll be asking for it." "Make a file in the name of this project." Even if later he did not remember the exact details, he knew that he had ordered something to be kept and that it had to be there. ... The main archive was at his home, the one he used every day: for works and for contact with friends and with institutions (Moreira, April 29, 2008).

Testimonials from his staff helped to provide the context for the accumulation of some of the documents in the archive, by showing the way in which he thought of his activities. This perspective did not provide information for the constitution of the archive as a whole; in the period when Berta dealt with the documents, she seems to have done it with a large degree of autonomy, while the documents archived in the offices certainly followed a bureaucratic logic without direct interference from the owner.

The same statements also help us to understand Darcy's relationship with what he considered to be in fact 'his' archive in the last 15 years of his life, and explain the empty files or those with only one document displaying the name of a project, as mentioned earlier. With regard to this part of the documentation, what emerges is a model very far from that associated with a progressive and natural accumulation of records of life experiences and activities. Some documents are evidence only of the intention of the owner to keep them and the idea that they could be useful in the future. This is the action which they 'witness': there is no desire to remember his own life (McKemmish, 1996), but instead a certain way of projecting it. By means of interviews, a new meaning is given to disconnected or fragmentary documents, kept in folders which seem to have been forgotten, undersized compared to other sets of documents, and 'despised' by the archivist interested in contexts and in the records of the owner's activities.

The desire to intervene - which appears as a marked trait of his personality in his own accounts of himself, in the statements of those who were closest to him and in the academic studies about him - seems to have been nourished by his successful experiences on his return to the political scene in the 1980s, strengthening his belief in his ability to get things done.13 This self-image, in its turn, seems to have furnished his archive with plans, projects, records of ideas and experiences which seemed to him interesting or suggestive and which were, therefore, rated as worth keeping for the future, to inspire projects still to come, as Gisele suggests when recalling Darcy's words when dealing with something which caught his attention his interest: "Make a file in the name of this project."

In this sense it can be said that the archive, for Darcy Ribeiro, was in fact a repository of ideas to which he wanted to have access at any time. Especially in the last years, when the urgency of realizing his 'utopias' increased with the prospect of illness and death, the archive seems to have gained importance as a working tool which was capable of furnishing supplies for his undertakings. The archive had, therefore, a prospective dimension, in this sense being closer to the idea of an open notebook than an archive.

The ethnography of the process of forming the collection thus shows a usage distinct from that normally associated with the storing of papers by an individual. Neither a record of the past nor evidence of activities, the papers accumulated by Darcy - or at least part of them - depart from the traditional view of a memorial archive and bear more resemblance to what might be termed an archive of projects. Such a perspective explains the fact that it was only late in life, and when he was near death, that Darcy realized the 'historic value' of his documents, even though his library had had this character for a long time. For Darcy, the user of the archive was himself, and some categories found when boxes were opened revealed his intended uses for those records. In the words of Gisele Moreira (April 29, 2008): "Certainly it was an archive made... 'Look, open a folder for this project' - and that project never left the page, it just stayed there. Or: 'Open a folder for so-and-so,' and it led to nothing. For sure, it happened. Because he was spontaneous, in other words, it was an archive made before, not after. ... And it was for his own use."

The accumulation of documents for use at some stage in the future also gives rise to a picture of Darcy as a 'missionary' for certain causes. This accumulation was marked by the range of interests that characterized his public activities, and was driven by the need to cultivate the image of a multi-faceted and entrepreneurial man, whose actions always needed to be seeped in an aura of originality. Darcy collected documents which could nourish his ideal of himself and contribute to the realization of his utopias. The ultimate meaning of this accumulation can be found in his self-image, which he expressed so well and on so many occasions: "My life and work are urged on by an ethical instinct, impelled by a creative frenzy, and activated by such an ambition for doing things that I am never quiet. It is true that this kind of servitude is very exhausting, but it gives me a satisfaction that no leisure can" (Ribeiro, 2001, p.236).


Fundar after Darcy and the new uses of the archive

The contacts with the UnB for the setting up of Fundar on campus were suspended following the death of Darcy, but the idea persisted, judging by the statement of Paulo Ribeiro (May 27, 2008; February 13, 2009), the nephew of Darcy and current president of the Foundation:

The dream was the UnB. He had a lot of talks during Todorov's time. ... The excuse was that... Because Darcy wanted the Foundation to be a private one. ... not to be part of the normal functioning of the University routine, because of the bureaucracy, the deficiency, the difficulties that the University has in transforming its knowledge into practical action. He always thought in terms of a Foundation for social intervention, for devising policies which would help the State and local authorities to develop ... . I hope that one day they will wake up and realize that, and UnB will sit down to negotiate, because we are awaiting this.14

In mid 2009, the rector of UnB José Geraldo de Souza Junior, and Paulo Ribeiro came to an agreement to transfer the archive, the library and Darcy's works of art to a building to be constructed on campus in accordance with the architectural plans of José Filgueiras Lima, while the intervention projects and the administrative part of Fundar would remain in Rio de Janeiro. With an initial budget of R$4,000,000.00, the work would form part of the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of Brasilia in 2010, and of UnB in 2012.

The remarks of the former rector of the University, Roberto Aguiar, in 2009, explain some of the matters at stake in this transfer: "To bring Darcy here is to bring back the original spirit of the University. UnB went through a crisis, and it is now getting back on course. This is the time to recover our daring, and this is what our union with Fundação Darcy Ribeiro will promote" (in Vasconcelos, April 2, 2009).15

In 1996 Darcy insistently sought the support of UnB for the installation of his foundation on the university campus, hoping to add the material and symbolic weight of UnB to his project. More than ten years later there is a feeling that the University administration sees in the transfer of the collection the possibility of adding the symbolic weight of Darcy - associated with "the original spirit of the University," with its "daring," with its "utopia" - to the image of UnB. Darcy Ribeiro is thought of as a 'moral asset,' whose 'legacy,' existing in material form in the collection, could contribute towards the regeneration of the University's image. On the other hand, the setting up of a partnership between UnB and Fundar - the legatee which makes a physical transfer of its endowment to give form to the dream of its founder, but retains ownership of the collection and the power of decision with regard to initiatives which are directed towards it - is a process that affords to the Foundation the opportunity to expand its connections, increase its visibility and generate projects together with the University.

In addition to this partnership, Paulo Ribeiro has looked to diversify the institution's projects within the vast field of action embraced by Darcy. For this purpose he has had make use of his uncle's documents with a glimpse to a new use for the archive: from being a collection of documents of a historical nature, available to be consulted by researchers interested in the career of the owner, the archive seems to have taken on functions generally associated with current archives, used to support the activities and policies of the body which compiled them. In this case the archive is clearly not in the service of Darcy himself, but the organization and personnel who have taken his place. In his interview, Paulo Ribeiro (May 27, 2008; February 13, 2009) stated: "I came back here and started to read things. Where are the other projects?"

So, the documents from Darcy's personal archive have been consulted in order that Fundar can diversify its range of assistance projects. They have also served to feed editorial projects, like the proposed publication of 18 new books, 12 by Darcy and six by Berta Ribeiro, based on material in the collection. Some are editorial projects of the owner himself, such as The French Chroniclers collection, comprising texts of travelers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, whose originals can be found in the archive. The collection began to be organized in the 1980s, and after various failed attempts the first volume was published in 2009.16 More interesting, however, is the proposed publication of miscellanies of documents: lessons, letters from exile, prefaces to many publications, speeches and articles, and, finally, field diaries which still remain unpublished.

The archive, which was lacking in the early plans for Fundar, was subsequently incorporated as part of its endowment and is now also a source of new initiatives - assistance projects and editorial projects, planned on the the documents. The archive has thus allowed the memory of Darcy to be kept alive in many ways. More than this, it has been the basis for projects which are being developed by his 'heirs' nowadays and has taken an important role in the maintenance of the institutional plan.


Final considerations

The histories contained in the archives - their patterns, their uses and meanings - have aroused a great deal of interest. Though not always visible, they are fundamental for their understanding as historic, social products and have inspired a sequence of studies, sometimes referred to as the anthropology of the archives, of which this article forms part. In these studies the attention is always moving away from the documents - from the content of the archives - to the story of the creation of the documentary collection and to the structure by means of which it is preserved and accessed.

In the case of personal archives, a study of the way in which they are formed can be a path to arrive at the personality of the owner. It is not a matter here of giving support to the old belief that the archive is a sure path to access the intimate secrets of its creator, but of suggesting that the archive, when looked at as an entity endowed with historicity, demonstrates practices and habits which can reveal the outlines of its owner's self-image and his view of the world.

When archiving projects and texts related to his areas of interest - education, Latin America, indigenous populations, Amazonia, etc. - Darcy Ribeiro used his documents to project himself publicly. When dealing with an academic audience assuming a certain position or as a member of a new working group, he relied on the archive to furnish him with material compatible with his image as a restless man of action. More than this, the collecting of documents which might serve for future projects expresses the imperative of taking action. Darcy was motivated by ideas, his 'utopias,' and saw himself as a missionary with a commitment to humanity, above all to the people of Brazil, whose destiny he sought to influence. Through his 'doings,' he wanted to change the outlook in the various fields in which he was active, moving forward in the direction of his ideals of justice and equality.

Our investigation of the motives of Darcy in accumulating his papers suggested, in contrast to the traditional image of a memorial archive, the image of a project archive, which he envisioned as an aid to future action rather than as a record of the past. The relationship of Darcy with his documents, at least with those of which we were able to recover custody, indicates that, for him, the archive was a means, not an end, that it was an instrument for the realization of his 'doings,' and that it was these that were destined to endure and keep his memory alive.

The reconstruction of the history of Fundar, in turn, has revealed the meaning ascribed to the project by Darcy himself, shedding light from another angle on his ideal of permanence: the Foundation should keep his memory alive not because it would maintain his works as an object of research or because it would dedicate itself to the exaltation of his career - even though these elements were there - but because it would replace him in the public arena, thus giving continuity to his political activity and fostering the combative image which characterized him. You could say that, in the ideal of the anthropologist, it was his mana, i.e. impersonal force or quality that resides in people, that Darcy wished to bequeath to Fundar.

The archive, considered by him to be of little value in his draft project, gained importance later after his death when the institution began to take an interest in the collection, an asset which soon revealed its potential to attract investment and researchers. In recent times, the idea of the archive as a repository of ideas and projects seems to have started a movement within the institution, which by exploiting its documents, is attempting to set up a program of work which will guarantee the presence of the Foundation in the public domain.

To take the place of Darcy Ribeiro, Fundar must continually reinvent itself, and for this purpose it has recourse to the archive, activating it for new purposes. The idea that archives, when entering the public domain of institutions and being made available as a source for research, are activated for their uses is a notion developed by Eric Ketelaar (2006). For the Dutch archivist, the institutional structure which houses the archive establishes a 'place' for it, defines the ways in which the documents can be consulted, fixes the archives available for preservation, publicity and access to the records, and oversees changes in the content of the documentary collections, besides making use of them in various ways - aspects which the relationship between Fundar and the Darcy Ribeiro archive illustrates very well. Each time a creator, a user or an archivist interacts, intervenes, interrogates or interprets a document, it is construed in an active way. Every activation leaves marks on the document or on those around it, which impart unlimited significance to the archives (p.66).

The search for these attributes of significance breathes life into a new look at the archives. In the case of personal archives, it is interesting to peruse them as a space for investment and as a projection of the owner, as a way of accessing his career, his social circles, his methods of intellectual production, as an artifact constructed under various influences on the public and private planes, as a legacy endowed with the attribute of representing an individual career, the object of investment on the part of the institution which houses it and of which the archive is an asset, as the result of work by professionals responsible for the transformation of the collection of documents into a source of history, among other perspectives. All of them indicate paths of research with the potential to describe the processes of building memories, monumentalizing records and, above all, managing the past whose meaning expresses and projects itself in the present.



1 For this summary of Darcy Ribeiro's biography, I am indebted above all to Couto, Galvão, 2001.

2 In an interview, his nephew Paulo Ribeiro (May 27, 2008, Feb.13, 2009) talked about this characteristic: "He worked morning, noon and night. He never took a day off in his life to relax. Work was his relaxation. ... It was an emergency situation, because death was always very present to him after 74 ... after cancer, because then he knew he could die. Before that, he thought he was immortal."

3 In this and other citations of texts from Portuguese, a free translation has been provided.

4 In 1988 Darcy counted, among his 'constructed' works, the Museu do Índio, the UnB, the Cieps, the Sambodrome and the Biblioteca Pública do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. The Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim (Laura Alvim Cultural Center) and the Fundação Casa França-Brasil were also inaugurated during his period as head of the State Secretariat for Science and Culture (1983-1986).

5 This reflection and these names appear in the chapter entitled "Etnologando," from Testemunho (Ribeiro, 2001), and in the chapter entitled "Mestres brasileiros," from Confissões (Ribeiro, 1997).

6 All the documents of the archive of Darcy Ribeiro mentioned in the text are to be found in the dossier dedicated to the Fundação Darcy Ribeiro, which forms part of this archive. At the time I consulted them they had still not been codified, and it was therefore impossible to reference them individually.

7 This information was supplied by Cláudia Zarvos in a telephone interview on June 6, 2008. Cláudia was unavailable for a personal interview, but furnished interesting information on the relationship of Darcy with his library and his archive. Cláudia and Darcy were married between 1976 and 1994.

8 João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé) was the architect responsible for the architectural design of the Cieps, during the first Brizola government in the State of Rio de Janeiro.

9 The archive of Darcy Ribeiro was the subject of my doctoral thesis in sociology (Heymann, 2009).

10 The two agreements entered into by Fundar with the aim of providing funds for the organization of the archive - the first signed with the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, in 2000, and the second with the Fundação Cesgranrio, in 2002 - were also indicative of the interest aroused by the documents and the possibility of generating funds for their treatment and circulation.

11 The book Confissões (Ribeiro, 1997) reproduces a letter from Darcy to his friend Raul, of April 21, 1952, in which he comments: "I work like a dog, not because I produce very much, but because that old laziness won't leave me. If something emerges, it is because Berta doesn't let me rest. And again: In São Paulo, as a student, I found my wife. I won't say any more because she checks my letters when she types them" (p.114).

12 According to Dellaperuta (May 9, 2008), the Universidade da Paz (Peace University) referred to a plan for an open university, inspired by the Universidad Complutense in Madrid.

13 The range of intervention which marked the public activities of Darcy Ribeiro was examined in an exemplary way by Helena Bomeny (2001).

14 In this part of his statement, Paulo Ribeiro is referring to João Cláudio Todorov, rector of UnB from November 1993 to November 1997.

15 The Memorial Darcy Ribeiro, as the space was named, was inaugurated in December 2010 in the presence of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and by the Fundar, the work costed R$8,000,000.00. According to the rector of UnB, José Geraldo de Sousa Junior, the memorial reinstated the "symbolic utopia" of the University (Borges, Dec 6, 2010).

16 The collection, issued by the Fundar, was entitled Os Franceses no Brasil (The French in Brazil). The first volume, Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon e outros (1542-1569): correspondência (Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon and others (1542-1569): correspondance), was published in September 2009.



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Received for publication on February 2011.
Approved for publication on July 2011.



Translated by Derrick Guy Phillips.

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