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A Brazilian Anthropologist Studying Money in America


  • Paper presented at the panel Challenges in Brazilian Anthropology: A Global View during the 110th Meetings of the American Anthropological Association. Montreal, Canada, November 20, 2011.


This article analyzes meanings of money in America. It is based on an ethnography carried out in the United States by a Brazilian anthropologist who studied financial institutions, health insurance, service clubs, compulsive spenders, restaurants, shops, scholarly, and non-scholarly articles and books on personal finance, proverbs, expressions, etc. He is currently contrasting Brazilian and North American popular music of the first half of the 20th century. The author compares attitudes toward money in the United States with those existing in Brazil and argues that money in North American society, which can be seen as a total social fact, is considered less polluting than in Brazil, where it is represented as something potentially dirty.