Paulo de Carvalho Neto (Simão Dias, Sergipe, Brazil, September 10, 1923 – Rio de Janeiro, August 17, 2003) was a Brazilian anthropologist, ethnologist, folklorist, writer, novelist, and essayist. Because of his research and study of oral traditions in Ecuador and other countries he is considered the progenitor of “folklore” as a field of study in Latin America. He lived outside of Brazil for many years, including Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador (for 6 years), and the United States (for 17 years) where he taught at UCLA. In January 1960 he was appointed Cultural Attaché of the Brazilian embassy in Quito, Ecuador’s capital with the mission of organizing a Center for Brazilian Studies there. He collaborated with Benjamín Carrión of the House of Ecuadorian Culture (CCE), and together with poet Jorge Enrique Adoum and artist Oswaldo Guayasamín founded the Ecuadorian Institute of Folklore. He taught classes at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Central University of Ecuador. He also co-founded, and directed, the Revista del Folklore Ecuatoriano [Ecuadorian Folklore Magazine], published by the House of Ecuadorian Culture. Several of his books on folklore theory, including “The Concept of Folklore” and “Folklore and Psychoanalysis” were translated into English by Jacques M.P. Wilson and published by University of Miami Press in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In 1972, he published a neo-Indiginest novel entitled, “Mi Tío Atahualpa” [My Uncle Atahualpa], about the Ecuadorian Indians in the highlands of Quito, which has been translated into Portuguese, Finnish, German, and Dutch.
He was the son of the lawyer, politician and writer Antonio Manuel de Carvalho-Neto, precursor of labor rights law in Brazil, and Veturía Prata. His uncle, the doctor and writer Ranulpho Prata, who saved his life after being presumed dead ton the day of his birth. His maternal grandfather was Dr. Joviniano de Carvalho Neto, the first surgeon to perform a separation of Siamese twins in Brazil, and his paternal grandfather Filisberto Prata, a colonel in the National Guard of Emperor Pedro II and a landowner in the state of Sergipe.
In 1949, he married Ivolina Rosa with whom he had 5 children.
He was born in Simão Dias, Sergipe, but shortly after his family moved to Aracajú, where he graduated from high school in 1940 and then continued his studies in Salvador de Bahía. In 1941 he was called up by the army due to Brazil’s declaration of war against the Axis forces (WWII). He was promoted to Lieutenant of motorized infantry and was assigned to Rio de Janeiro. Despite his ascending military career, he requested discharge in 1946 to devote himself to writing.
He entered the Faculty of Law of the University of Brazil but left it to change to Philosophy, where he met the anthropologist Arthur Ramos. He became the fifth student of Ramos, who was teaching the first anthropology course in Brazil. While completing his studies, he traveled to Minas Gerais, where he rescued hundreds of manuscripts on slavery in Brazil, and did journalism work and translations into Spanish. In 1948 Ramos appointed him as assistant to his anthropology classes at the Casa del Estudiante do Brasil. The following year he married Ivolina Rosa, with whom he had five children. He also began teaching Brazilian History and Geography at the Y. M. C. A. and at a Jewish high school.
When Arthur Ramos died in Paris in October 1948 while working for UNESCO, Carvalho accepted a proposal from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry to replace ethnographer Max Schmidt due to illness as head of anthropology courses at the University of Paraguay. In 1950 he was one of the pioneers in teaching folklore classes and in conducting research and traveling that allowed him to write Folklore del Paraguay.
He moved to Montevideo in 1951 as a member of the Brazilian cultural mission in Uruguay. At Udelar he directed the Sociology seminar, taught at the Institute of Brazilian Studies and wrote the innovative essays Concepto de Folklore, Folklore y Psicoanálisis and Folklore y Educación. In 1954 he presided over the Uruguayan delegation to the International Congress of Folklore in Sao Paulo. In 1955, appeared La obra afro uruguaya de Ildefonso Pereda Valdéz, an essay published by the Center for Folkloric Studies of Uruguay in line with Ramos’ thinking, as well as El Negro Uruguayo y Estudios Afros published in Quito (1965) and Caracas (1971), respectively. In the following years he continued to publish essays on folklore: Folklore y Psicoanálisis (ed. Psique, Buenos Aires, 1956), Concepto de Folklore (Librería Monteiro Lobato, Montevideo, 1956), Folklore poético (Quito, 1966).
In January 1960 he was appointed Cultural Attaché of the Brazilian embassy in Ecuador’s capital (Quito) with the mission of organizing a Center for Brazilian Studies. Additionally, he carried out research and documentation of oral traditions and other aspects that marked the beginning of the scientific study of folklore in Ecuador. He collaborated with Benjamín Carrión of the House of Ecuadorian Culture (CCE), and together with poet Jorge Enrique Adoum and artist Oswaldo Guayasamín founded the Ecuadorian Institute of Folklore. His research led him to write the following books: Folklore y Educación, Diccionario del Folklore ecuatoriano, Antología del Folklore Ecuatoriano, Arte Popular del Ecuador (four volumes), Estudios de folklore (three volumes, editorial Universitaria), and Geografía del Folklore Ecuatoriano (1967). Galo Ramírez Salcedo, Manuel Lándivar, and Eulalia Veintimilla joined his team of collaborators, a group from which the Instituto del Folklore Azuayo and a homonymous magazine emerged.
He taught classes at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Central University and had as collaborators Olga Fish, Leonardo and Elvia de Tejada, Oswaldo Viten, Jaime Andrade, among others. This group of assistants founded the Ecuadorian Folklore Magazine, edited by the CCE and directed by Carvalho Neto.
Carvalho Neto is considered the founder of folklore as a science in Ecuador, having as his predecessors Darío Guevara in the sierra and Justino Cornejo on the coast in the 20th century, and Juan León Mera and José Antonio Campos in the 19th century.
In the United States
He lived in the U.S. for 17 years — from 1967-1985. He was hired by UCLA to teach courses on Latin American Folklore, Languages, and Culture. He also worked as a translator (from English to Spanish and Portuguese).
In his final years he was afflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease. He died in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2003.
- Folklore y Educación
- Diccionario del Folklore ecuatoriano (1964)
- Antología del Folklore Ecuatoriano
- Arte Popular del Ecuador (four volumes)
- Estudios de folklore (1968; three volumes, editorial Universitaria)
- Geografía del Folklore Ecuatoriano (1967)
- Folklore y Educación (1961; translated to Portuguese in 1981)
- La obra afro uruguaya de Ildefonso Pereda Valdéz
- El Negro Uruguayo
- Concepto de Folklore (1956; second edition 1965; third edition 1980; translated into English in 1971 by Jacques M.P. Wilson.
- Folklore y Psicoanálisis (1956; second edition 1968; translated into English in 1972 by Jacques M.P. Wilson)
- Folklore and Psychoanalysis (1972)
- Folklore poético (1966)
- Arte Popular del Ecuador
- Un Precursor do Direíto Trabalhista Brasileiro (1964; a biography of his father published in Revista Brasilera de Estados Políticos)
- Historia del Folklore Iberoamericano (winner of the Giuseppe Pitre Award; translated into English in 1969)
- History of Iberoamerican Folklore: Mestizo Cultures (based on a Series of Lectures Delivered at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1969)
- El carnaval de Montevideo
- Folklore Sergipano (1970)
- El folklore de las luchas sociales: un ensayo de folklore y marxismo (1973; received special mention at the Casa de las Américas, Havana, Cuba)
- Decamerón ecuatoriano (1975)
- Los Ilustre Maestro
- La Influencia del folklore en Antonio Machado
- Diccionario de Teoría Folklórica (1977)
- Teatro Sandinista (1978; theater)
- Historias a lo Divino
- Folclore e educac̲ão (1981)
- Folklore According to Spiritism (1983)
- Folklore and Hypnotism (1985)
- Cuentos Folklóricos del Ecuador de costa y sierra (1989)
- Viajeros ingleses y norteamericanos del siglo XIX y el folklore y espiritismo
- Folklore extraterrestre
- Suomi (1986; novel)
- The Folklore of Social Struggles: Oppression and Resistance in the Oral Tradition of Latin America
As s translator
In 1977, he translated some of the poetry of Nicaragua’s Ernesto Cardena from Spanish to Portuguese.