Copyright © 1994. Depósito legal pp. 76-0010 ISSN 0378-1844. INTERCIENCIA 19(4): 183-190




George de Cerqueira Leite Zarur is Senior Researcher of the Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology (IBICT/CNPq) and Professor and Associate Director of the Brazilian Branch of the Faculdade Latino-Americana de Ciencias Sociais (FLACSO). He worked for several years in the National Council For Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) as Coordinator of Human and Social Sciences and as Coordinator of the Program for Scientific Museums and Collections. Professor Zarur took his BA in Economics at the University of Brasilia (1969), his M. A. in Anthropology at Museu Nacional of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1972) and his Ph.D. also in Anthropology, at the University of Florida in Gainesville (1975). From 1991 to 1993 he was a visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology of Harvard University. He did research with Brazilian Indians, Cultural Ecology, Brazilian and North American fishermen and Latin American social thoughts and identities. Since 1986 professor Zarur has been studying science and scientists from an Anthropological perspective. He has published several books and articles on these subjects. Address: 5QS, 215, B.I.D. Apt. 406, Brasilia, 70294, DF, Brazil.


The paper discusses the field of zoology in Brazil from the viewpoint of its internal organization and the changes through which it went over time. Scientific paradigms are considered part of larger cultural processes and as legitimizing ideologies for group cohesion. Group arrangements are comprised by the concept of "school," defined as a set of persons or groups that were trained in the same scientific tradition, and are usually associated with a leader and an institution. Four different paradigms and associated schools from different Brazilian regions are described in detail: Traditional Taxonomy, German Descriptive Zoology, Evolutionism and Cladistics. The main conclusions are the following: 1) the appearance of new paradigms depends on the possibilities of institutional expansion offered by the state; 2) Paradigms operate as "emblems", symbolically differentiating schools; 3) Paradigms function to distinguish generations of zoologists; 4) Brazilian national culture has a direct relationship with forms of grouping in science, but has not a direct relationship with the contents of paradigms; 5) For pragmatic (power and funding) reasons there is presently a truce between different schools; 6) Paradigms influence the internal organization of the zoological community but most zoologists see their work as a reflection of the zoological groups - the taxonomic classes; 7) Brazilian zoology may play an essential role for the country. KEY WORDS / Brazilian Zoology / School /

This paper discusses the role of the historical and cultural processes of change in Brazilian society, explaining the appearance of new paradigms in Brazilian zoology. I will also work out the role of science as a legitimating ideology for group cohesion. Scientific knowledge and techniques are, (as ideologies), a paradigm in the Kuhnian sense - a set of ideas and values that operate in the construction of a cultural variant2. The application of this and other related sociological concepts to the situation of an underdeveloped country is another aim of this paper. How are scientific paradigms built in Brazil? How do scientific and methodological developments happen in a country like Brazil, in contrast with the developed countries?

I will identify the main schools that mark the history of Brazilian zoology. I will define a school as a set of persons or groups that were trained in the same scientific tradition, and are usually associated with a leader and an institution. Such "schools" express the traditional forms of grouping of Brazilian culture. Each one has a group as its core in a given institution and carries its own ideology, that is, a paradigm with which it is identified.

The case of Brazilian zoology illustrates the reproduction of the encompassing cultural forms in a particular scientific field, what may be a reason for its strength. In countries like the U.S., zoology is out of favor in the universities and in government agencies. It is losing resources to genetics, ecology and molecular biology. In Brazil the situation is the inverse, and one reason may be the sociological relationships between groups and institutions in a patrimonialist society, that makes paradigms and entire scientific areas more resistant - they are the ideologies that legitimate the occupation of institutions by a group of researchers3. The emergence of new paradigms is usually associated with the creation of new institutions. On the other hand, the survival of groups in institutions depends on the survival of the paradigm that marks its identity.

This paper discusses an almost unexplored area in the Sociology and History of Brazilian Science and much information is still to he gathered. It is the author's intention to the sociological use of historical data and not an exhaustive historical discussion of the theme. The number of written sources on the subject is small and all of them are cited in this paper. Most of the data presented here were gathered through interviews with Brazilian zoologists. Anthropological techniques of Life History and oral History were used for the data collection. For statistical information on productivity, publications and group sizes on the field of Brazilian Zoology see the paper "Retrato da Zoologia no Brasil-" (Zarur, 1990b4).

The Zoological Branch of Manguinhos: Taxonomy and Nomenclature

one remarkable moment in the history of science in Brazil was the creation, in 1906, of the Manguinhos tropical medicine research institute. Sanitation in Brazil played an important role in politics and in social thought in the first decades of this century. According to social thinkers of the time, the worse problem of rural Brazil (as existed until the seventies), was not today's hunger-poverty association. Food shortages were restricted to the Northeastern area, the consequence of droughts, and were understood as a result of natural cataclysms in a delimited region5. The concept of misery was correlated with housing, education and especially, health conditions and not also with hunger as today. Different authors, like sociologist Gilberto Freyre or the writer Monteiro Lobato diagnosed that "Brazil was a sick country". The problem of the "Jeca Tatu" (the archetypical rural poor Brasilian in Lobato's description) was not hunger, or exploitation, but verminosis.

Sickness was of enormous importance in explaining the backwardness of tropical countries. Thus science and scientific institutions like Manguinhos not only controlled concrete diseases like yellow fever and others, but also meant a concrete hope for national redemption (see Stepan's 1976 book, the only comprehensive study on Manguinhos and his founder Oswaldo Cruz)6. Tropical medicine as developed in Manguinhos associated the search for practical problems with high quality research.

Medical zoology was a central activity of Manguinhos since its beginnings. In order to know the cycle of tropical diseases such as malaria, verminosis, mycosis and Chagas disease it was necessary to research particular zoological groups. Parasitology and entomology became important research interest in the institute. Research usually progressed beyond the original intentions of the scientists.

As the zoologist Paulo Vanzolini, talking about Manguinho's scientist Adolfo Lutz said in his interview:

"Adolfo Lutz worked with frogs, investigating the cycle of Schistosoma. Schistosoma occurs in lakes and Lutz believed that frogs, which are also in the lakes, could play a role in the cycle of the disease. When Lutz realized that frogs had nothing to do with Schistosoma ... Manguinhos, a Public Health research institution got then, a collection of frogs, and a role in the biology of vertebrates, that had nothing to do with its original mission, Similar things happened in the Butantan institute in São Paulo."

At Manguinhos, parasitology began with two German zoologists, S. Prowazek and H. Hartmann who trained the first generation of Brazilian researchers. Hired in Germany they came to Brazil and stayed here for a short period, just to train the first group of Brazilian students. Students were also encouraged to get training abroad. In 1908 Manguinhos. started its own course. Several Manguinhos graduates went to other Brazilian states, where institutes that associated research and vaccine production were founded. From Manguinhos, research in sanitation spread around the country with profound implications for the well being of the population and for people's conceptions about the country and its future7.

One remarkable moment in the, history of science in Brazil was the creation in 1906, of the Manguinhos tropical medicine research institute.

Even today, the Manguinhos' mystique is very strong. Some of the current research staff speak proudly about the "ghost of ''Oswaldo Cruz", the founder of Manguinhos. In Manguinhos Brazilian modern science was born. There Brazilian science made an original contribution by the identification of Chagas disease cycle.

The Manguinbos school in the area of zoology is associated with Professor Lauro Travassos (deceased in 1970) who was, for several decades, the main influence in Brazilian zoology. He was born in We state of Rio de Janeiro, in the coastal city of Angra dos Reis, in 1888, where his family had a farm. Shortly after finishing his M.D., in 1913, he published his first research piece on Nemaltheminths. Professor Hugo Sousa Lopes8, one of his students, confirmed Travassos' "impressive knowledge in zoology, that all Parasitologists should have." Travassos taught in Germany and, for a period, at the University of São Paulo. All his professional life was spent at Manguinhos and up to 1938 at the Veterinary School of Rio de Janeiro.

Travassos' students formed a social and political group. Among his students there were Clemente Pereira, Zeferino Vaz, Teixeira de Freitas, Hugo de Sousa Lopes and Herman Lendt, among others. He spent much of his time with his students, even in his home. He received student for dinner, followed by a discussion on zoology. Recruiting was very informal. Science in Brazil in the beginning of the century left open the possibility that individuals without a higher education could be trained as naturalists. There was even a postman, who became a zoologist only through personal training by Travassos. Similar cases, especially of laboratory technicians, trained as zoologists while not common, did occur at that time. Several zoologists of the Travassos School originally came from applied fields like medicine and veterinary science. The main characteristics of the Travassos school were:

a) Experimentalism in teaching.

My informants told me that Travassos would never say that "an animal has such and such characteristics." He would make the students open the animal. The Travassos school, therefore, brought experimentalism into Zoology classes, replacing the book-memorizing method. In the beginning of the century in Brazil, this was clearly an innovation.

b) Applied Interest

As the zoological branch of Manguinhos, the Travassos school had an interest in applied and in good quality research for the time. Manguinhos was an institute of Tropical Medicine. Travassos and his group was supposed to do research on the zoological, aspects of tropical diseases. Travassos himself was a Parasitologist and most of his group studied animals of direct medical interest.

c) A democratic and solidary group for some informants, the Travassos school.

"... presented the capacity to consider everybody equal. Some persons had only more experience. Persons are not different among themselves and those who have more experience must help those who wish to enter zoology. The principle of the Travassos school is: Each citizen may become a parasitologist in the future."

d) Nationalism in Science

Travassos school members were very proud of being "Manguinhos in zoology" and of participating in a branch of Brazilian science which was internationally respected. For others, however, the nationalism of the Travassos school was criticized:

"... a form of hyperpatriotism. They hated foreigners and they really wanted to catch foreign zoologists on wrong nomenclature questions. They did not exchange materials. It was a delirious school... and they considered themselves the best in the world."

Possibly the nationalism of the Travassos school was a reaction of professors of the School of Medicine of São Paulo - where Travassos was a teacher - against foreign scientists who were arriving at the newly founded University of São Paulo.

The Travassos school is understood by its own members, as well as outsiders, as a group of zoologists who worked with non-evolutionist, pure systematics, emphasizing nomenclature.

The main intellectual problem of the Travassos school was to identify an animal, give it a name and place it in the zoological classificatory schemes, in other words, it was traditional taxonomy with emphasis on nomenclature. One of the criticisms of this school is that it did not search for an explanation, but was interested only in classification. It did not ask, in an informants words, "Why this animal is the way it is? The only question was Which?" It used plain Aristotelian logic, especially classification based on the simple distinction set by the "proximate gender, specific difference" criteria. According to the same critics, the choice of morphological characters for distinctions among animal species was, to a large extent, an arbitrary procedure. Several other characteristics at the same logical level would serve as easily. Another remark of members of other schools was that "zoological classifications based on the observation on more or less one spot in an animal doesn't make any sense nowadays." Traditional taxonomy is compared by them with "stamp collecting". Another opposing argument is that it isolated zoology from other biological fields. It did not work with the concept of evolution nor with the field of genetics.

The defense of traditional taxonomy is that the essential activity in zoology is the identification of animals, to name them, closely following the naturalist tradition. In Brazil zoological surveys would be of the utmost importance because of the large number of unknown species in its diversified tropical nature. It is also argued that such surveys are a necessary Step towards future re classifications based on evolutionary principles. Therefore before answering "why?", the first logical step is the identification (at the survey level) of a specific zoologic group. The school, therefore, bases its defense on an essential empiricism, which precedes any theoretical problem.

Several zoologists from Rio de Janeiro, who were trained in the Travassos school, hold different theoretical approaches today, based on the concept of evolution. They argue, however, that the Travassos school signified an important advance for Brazilian science. When the school appeared, the concept of evolution was not an accepted assumption in systematic zoology as it is today. They deny that the school has any theoretical interest and state that it did closely interact with genetics, especially through the concept of species.

Another related perspective which returns to the direction of taxonomy is phenetics, represented in today's Brazil by the University of Paraná research group led by Father Jesus S. Moure. It is characterized by the use of sophisticated multivariate analysis with the aid of mainframe computers. Hundreds of characters are described and input for computational analysis, that results in a trend. The assumption behind these techniques is the non existence of relevant hierarchies between the characters that identify an animal.

The criticism against phenetics is that it was an important approach sow decades ago, before the discovery of DNA, and that today it is not used in the main research centers of the world. Those who apply phenetics do not consider that these observations make any sense at all.

The Viewpoint of São Paulo: German Descriptive Zoology

Even before the Travassos school spread its influence around the country, São Paulo began an autonomous research tradition, bringing German scientists to its institutions. This was a local initiative, supported with local resources. In the state of Para, in the Amazon, another museum was founded, and it brought the Swiss zoologist Emilio Goeldi and a whole research group. After the Amazon rubber boom, the state of Para stagnated economically and could not maintain its museum9. In São Paulo, however, began a process of economic differentiation. from the rest of the country, which is still happening today. The wealth of the state made possible the establishment of a local scientific system, independent from the federal government. Thus, in 1893 the Museu Paulista was founded, and its first-director was zoologist Hermann Von Inhering10.

... the Travassos school. . . "presented the capacity to consider everybody equal. Some persons had only more experience.

A very important moment in the history of education and science in Brazil was the creation of the University of São Paulo, in 1933, the first Brazilian University. Previously there were only isolated specialized schools such as Medicine and Law, but not a University. This is a sharp contrast with the situation of the Spanish American countries which had Universities since the XVIth century. Several foreign professors were brought in, thus breaking the previous dominant power structure established in the schools of law, engineering and medicine. Some of the constituent fields of this last school were "invaded" by the discipline of "natural history", that held academic respectability in the new Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras.

The German researcher Ernst Bresslau, professor at the Universities of Strasburgh and Cologne, came to occupy the newly created chair of zoology. He died not long after arriving in Brazil. Another German zoologist, Professor Ernst Marcus, occupied the position from 1936 to 1963.

Professor Marcus was very influential on the zoology of São Paulo, and he reinforced the German zoological research tradition in this state. In spite of the overall French influence in the University, he brought the German organizational style to his department. His specialty was sea animals and several students followed this type of study. They created the São Paulo Oceanographic Institute.

From the viewpoint of Science organization, the Marcus school, represented the formality and rigidity of German Science in these years. There was a strong emphasis on hierarchy, with a "chair professor" ("catedrático"), and a large number of assistant professors. This formalism and strong hierarchy found easy acceptance in the São Paulo social environment, where immigrants' children and grand-children moved up the class structure via scientific careers. The more ritualized, formal and hierarchical the career (São Paulo is the only place in Brazil where, even today, professors are called "Professor-Doutor"), the more respected it was in a situation where family names were still very important for status. The thirties still were the years of political and social climax of the coffee planters oligarchy in São Paulo, but in this period that state received millions of European immigrants. To belong to an important family was an important asset for social prestige. The children of the immigrants found in the new University of São Paulo a path for status achievement. To play this role, the university had to be solemn, formal and hierarchical.

At that time, academic organization was centralized in the "catedrático" role. Some informants compared the situation with Germany where, the same happened. It was in some ways different from the situation found in the traditional Brazilian Medical, Engineering and Law schools, as well as in the Spanish American Universities, where the "catedra" was also found. In the German system brought to the zoology department of the newly created University, the main professor ("catedrático") was the only full professor in the department. The department was organized around his person.

In this highly personalized and hierarchical system, there was a rigid demarcation of academic fields (described as "feuds" by an informant); hence interaction with genetics or other fields did not make sense for German zoology.

On the other hand, there is a consensus regarding the great knowledge Professor Marcus (and before him Von Inhering, in the Museu Paulista) and his students had about their specific zoologic groups as well as their impressive competence in morphology. The German descriptive school is therefore represented as (in accordance with a consensus in the interviews):

a) Extremely competent in Animal morphology, bringing, through morphology, a new paradigm to Brazilian zoology. This paradigm comprised two main aspects, sophisticated morphological techniques (previously unknown in Brazil) and intensive investigation of particular animals. The paradigm placed morphology as an end in itself, abandoning comparisons and classification.

b) Not having a direct applied interest. Emphasis is in the study of sea animals.

c) An hierarchical group organization. A professor surrounded by several assistants. He alone played the main role in the department. Also in private life relationships were very formal.

d) A group that contributed to the internationalization and modernization of Brazilian zoology, through participation in the newly founded University of São Paulo.

The main question for the German empiricists would be "how?". There were several statements about the excellence of the school in morphological techniques:

"A very good fine morphology technique applied in taxonomic groups was very difficult to work, with, especially sea animals."

This same competence is however seen as a limitation by some Zoologists:

"After a good morphology was done, the animal could 4 thrown away." or

"They considered the hand more important than the head", that is, dissection and related techniques were emphasized without any clear intellectual problem behind.

The school is strongly criticized for ignoring tropical diversity, and for isolated morphology and cytology from other zoological fields. From this point of view, the Travassos school, which had medical origins, is considered more flexible, more easily accepting multi-disciplinary cooperation.

Tropical diversity is ignored by Professor Marcus and his followers because:

"They pick an animal, study its anatomy, pick another animal 200 kilometers away, do the same and so on", that is, the environmental/ evolutionary relationships are not considered.

The defense of the school follows the same lines as that of the Travassos school, which assumes an essential empiricism. It argues that the problem of understanding the whole of tropical nature, or in other words, theory building, should be a future task of zoology. It will only be successfully carried out, however, after we have in depth knowledge of specific objects.

Despite sharing empiricism with the traditional taxonomy, paradigm, the German school does not value comparison and classification. Particular "realities" for this school are animals and no, zoological groups11.

New English and American Theory in Sao Paulo: New Systematics

While in Rio de Janeiro, still controlled by the Travassos school, the main interest remained zoologic taxonomies, in São Paulo, scientific institutions expanded in size and number. Industrial growth placed that state in the center of Brazilian Economy and gave the local government the necessary conditions to invest in scientific institutions. Thus, new institutional spaces were offered in order that new scientific interests could be explored. This was the case of the zoological style brought by Paulo Vanzolini and established in the Museum of Zoology of the University of São Paulo.

Vanzolini began his life in science very early, in the Travassos school. While in high-school, he worked in the Butantan Institute (the local tropical medicine institute, created by Travassos students), from there going to the Museum of zoology. He is the son of a University of São Paulo economics professor, who advised him to be trained by the best zoologist in the world. Consequently in 1948 he went to Harvard supported by his father until he could get a fellowship.

Coming back from the United States, in 1951, Paulo Vanzolini brought a new academic formation, unknown in Brazilian zoology. He brought a different theoretical point of view and a different model of scientific organization 12. He found in the Museum of Zoology of the Secretary of Agriculture an institution with a high degree of autonomy in relation to the university. He taught a large number of newly hired young trainees, held several seminars and made all read what was new at Harvard. In 1972 the zoology museum went under the administrative jurisdiction of the University of São Paulo and started to participate in the training of graduate students.

The new research system in the Museum of Zoology was not only a consequence of the process of economic differentiation going on in São Paulo, but also a sign of a wider historical movement of reorientation of Brazilian culture towards the United States.

Vanzolini brought a new paradigm based on the concept of evolution. He also brought the organizational model of American universities based on formal graduate courses over a relatively long period, and a less dependent relationship with the adviser. This was not a small innovation for the University of São Paulo, where several other scientific fields still suffer the ambiguity of being founded in the European way, trying at the same time to follow the American pattern. This ambiguity emerges in the overwhelming importance of tutoring and less emphasis on formal courses than in other Brazilian universities.

Some informants perceived other differences between the American and the European academic models. one of them is in the use of resources. In the traditional German system, there are a great number of badlypaid assistant professors. In the North American system, there is a smaller number of better paid associate and full professors. Another difference concerned specialties. In the German system assistant professors were trained by a full professor and henceforth followed his specialty. A critique of the Marcus school is on this line, by one of the interviewed zoologist:

". . Marcus was a specialist in Invertebrates. Each year a different assistant professor would have to teach the clase on vertebrates as a punishment."

... the zoologist Paulo Vanzolini, talking about Manguinho's scientist Adolfo Lutz: "Adolfo Lutz worked with frogs, investigating the cycle of Schistosoma. Schistose-ma occurs in lakes and Lutz believed that frogs, which are also in lakes, could play a role in the cycle of the disease. When Lutz realized that frogs had nothing to do with Schistosoma ...

In the American system, states We same Zoologist:

"... an entomologist teaches entomology, an ecologist teaches ecology and so on."

Vanzolini brought from Harvard the evolutionist, neo-Darwinist paradigm in systematic zoology, and a critique of the dominant paradigms of Brazilian zoology. He created an important theory about "Refuge Areas" which is internationally well known. This is not the place to describe his theory which was a relevant theoretical contribution of Brazilian zoology, but shortly, it relates relationships between species and between animals of the same species, with some particular, very well delimited empirically demonstrated paleo-climatics environmental aspects.

The main features of Vanzolini's school are:

a) The introduction of the evolutionist ("gradist") paradigm and the introduction of theoretical questions in general in Brazilian zoology.

b) Introduction of the organizational model of American universities, with formal graduate courses and less emphasis on tutoring.

c) Training of a group of researchers that participated in the reorientation of Brazilian scientific culture towards the United States.

d) Informal internal relationships.

In spite of the fact that traditional taxonomy and German descriptive zoology paradigms had competed for about two decades, they were not so different when compared with evolutionism. Here we could find the closer to the Brazilian version of the Kuhnian scientific revolutions, because

the new paradigm meant a sharp rupture with the previous ones13. Logical ordinations in evolutionism are different, classes are different, and the position of specimens in classes is different. Its emphasis is on population and geographical studies, with the use of genetics and other fields. Evolutionism in zoology did not mean the arrival of any particular theory, but rather the arrival of theory per se, up to then absent in the Brazilian naturalistic tradition. The new paradigm started, therefore, with a radical critique of the others.

Criticism of evolutionary approaches are related to empiricism and to the training of zoologists. They are not directed against the theory of evolution. They hold that the essential work of the zoologist is to know a particular zoological group and only after that is accomplished, does one have the necessary background to work in theory. This so-called "book knowledge" that critics associate with evolutionism, repeats the argument on the lack of experimental basis against which the Travassos school rebelled in the beginning of the century. For these same critics, several graduate students ("not all") get involved in theoretical discussions for which they are not prepared since they do not know a specific zoological group well enough. This would not be the case of experienced zoologists who, by knowing in depth a zoological group, would be able to work over it from an evolutionary viewpoint.

Related to this viewpoint is the importance that the paradigms of traditional taxonomy and German descriptive zoology ascribed to the empirical side of zoology, I found statements like, among Zoologists from the former:

"Generally speaking, classical zoologists had a very clear vision of the value of each character. A well done identification is very important. Now, nobody destroys a well-done systematics. The studies by Von Inhering on Mollusks are absolutely valid, in spite of the evolutionism that came later. 14C did not need cladistics to make the natural philogeny of this zoological group."

Implicit in this remark is the notion that empirical knowledge precedes and is independent from any theoretical point of view, including evolutionism. It criticizes excessive theoretical interest, which would complicate the basic mission of zoology in Brazil, which they see as an exhaustive inventory of the country's unknown fauna. The inventory perspective which characterizes the naturalist tradition is deeply-rooted in the daily practice of zoologists.

Cladistics and Brazilian Zoological Association

A new focus for the development of science appeared as a consequence of the intervention of the state in the organization of the zoological community. In 1978, the National Council For Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) organized a meeting of nine prominent zoologists to establish a diagnosis and planning directions for the field. At this time, meetings of scientists from other disciplines were held resulting in the "Basic Plan For Scientific and Technological Development" and the "Evaluation and Perspectives" documents, one for each field of knowledge. During their meeting, zoologists proposed the foundation of the Brazilian Zoological Society, and proposed to CNPq that it create a National Zoological Program (PNZ).

Until then, zoology in Brazil was characterized by a weak organization comprising personal ties and institutions. only specific subfields , like entomology, had scientific societies. The concept of "zoologist" was itself ambiguous. Some informants told me that in the past, in Brazil, it designated mainly specialists in vertebrates. The "entomologist" was a different and semantically autonomous category.

In the early eighties CNPq began several programs aimed a; scientifically developing different fields and sectors. one of them was the National Zoology Program. The founding of the program provided the occasion to bring together several zoologists who previously had had a very low level of communication with one another. Communication had been limited to their own institutions, regions, and zoological groups. The unity that existed in Brazilian zoology during the dominance of the Travassos school gradually disappeared after the autonomous development of zoology in São Paulo and later in the states of Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. São Paulo had even its own funding agency, while zoology elsewhere was funded by federal sources. There was a clear trend to isolation between different zoology departments and zoologists. As assests one of the participants in the meeting:

"The elders had all very bad relationships among one another, and had not met for a long period. They were isolated ... Even then, several of the old zoologists came to We meeting because they loved zoology and wanted to see it renewed"

One of the effects of the meeting, perhaps mom important than the writing of official documents, was the new identity which arose in the field14.

Nelson Papavero was the main leader of this new movement associated with the Brazilian Zoological Association and the National Zoology Program. Papavero began his career as a zoologist very early. In his first year in College he was hired as a trainee by the Department of Zoology of the Secretary of Agriculture of São Paulo, from where the Zoological Museum would be born. He had been training under Paulo Vanzolini. Later he and other young zoologists would spread a new evolutionist paradigm, "cladistics", initially through the CNPq's Special Graduate Courses on systematic zoology in the Zoological Program and later through regular graduate courses in different universities15. In the phylogenetic ("cladistic") approach, evolution is understood by a highly formal viewpoint, aiming at the identification and comparison of pairs of characters 16. The use of computer methods for philogeny is one of its distinctive methodologies.

The courses of the National Zoology Program of CNPq took four and a half months and required full-time enrollment. A total of six courses were offered from 1980 to 1984. Students from all over Brazil and other South American countries such as Chile and Argentina participated (See Jose Reis, 1981, 1981a, 1981b, 1982, 1983).

Perhaps a new school did not arise from these courses, because they did not have continuity. They did mean, however, the rebirth and the extension of the theoretical questions that Vanzolini brought in the fifties to Brazilian zoology and the diffusion of new theoretical viewpoints, especially the phylogenetic approach.

Even today, the Manguinhos' mystique is very strong. Some of the current research staff speak proudly about the "ghost of Oswaldo Cruz".

This movement, which began in the 1978 CNPq meeting presented the following features:

a) Introduction of the cladistic paradigm and the dissemination of theoretical discussion among zoologists. Before the movement, theoretical discussions were confined to MA and Doctoral graduate courses, mainly in São Paulo. Nelson Papavero, a dyptera specialist, received papers by Hennig (the creator of cladistics research) who was also a dypterologist. In this way he came in contact with cladistics.

b) The bypassing of the conventional graduate training system, through "graduate specialization courses" offered by the National Program of Zoology, with outside professors in Universities where zoology was not a strong field.

c) organization of the zoological community as a result of the intervention of the state. The founding of the Brazilian Zoological society occurred in a meeting called by government agency (CNPq), and was a consequence of the need that the state had for legitimate organized scholarly communities as a tool for scientific development.

Cladistics as an evolutionism is criticized in the same way as traditional evolutionism, by a presumed theoretical excess and lack of empirical base. There is, therefore, a primary separation between the empirically oriented paradigms, on one hand, and evolutionism on the other. Within evolutionism there is the opposition between traditional evolutionism and cladistics. In the same way that evolutionism as a whole has been on the offensive against older paradigms, cladistics has taken the initiative in attacking traditional evolutionism. Cladistics is considered by its followers to be a new and revolutionary paradigm, which would bring to zoology the condition of predictability as in the "mature sciences". From the fusion of phylogenetic (cladistics) and biogeography, presenting a strong power in looking back over extinct species. An informant states fervorously:

"It is infinitely superior to the others... There is no dispute because traditional evolution is not testable, it leads to infinite regression".

Phylogenetic is, therefore, associated with the ability of empirical proof, where traditional evolutionism would fail.

On the other hand, traditional evolutionists see phylogenetics only as a new methodology and not a new paradigm. It would be a particular instance of traditional evolutionism. They acknowledge, however, that the cladistics versus non cladisties debate is the great issue of today's zoology. The critique of cladistics from the "Grade" perspective, that is, from classical evolutionists acknowledges that cladistics "make contributions" but that the "excess is no good" because:

"... it becomes a crutch. The guy gets the recipe and has no more doubt, no more personal problem to make what God commanded."

Conclusions: Schools, Paradigms and Zoological Groups

New paradigms in Brazilian zoology are associated with specific historical movements, which led to the founding of scientific institutions like Manguinhos, the University of São Paulo, and the creation of The Brazilian Society of Zoology in the eighties. The appearance of new Paradigms depends on the possibilities of institutional expansion offered by the state. In the case of the Museum of Zoology of São Paulo, a new institution was not created, but an empty institutional space in a preexisting institution became available for occupation. The courses of the Brazilian Zoological Society were a sort of temporary shelter for a paradigm, when new institutions were no longer being created in Brazil because of the economic crisis of the eighties.

As happens everywhere in Brazilian science, after an institution is opened, a group associated with a leader establishes itself (see Zarur, 1990b-). Paradigms operate as "emblems" symbolically differentiating schools and institutions, besides, of course, guiding research. Brazilian zoology paradigms also function to distinguish generations. There is a trend among younger zoologists to adhere to philo-genetics. These generation cuts are usually related to cyclical movements for the intellectualization of zoology. The co-existence of competitive zoological paradigms and patterns of individual research lessens, the control over younger scientists. Other fields keep a rigid hierarchy, with the submission of younger generations, based on group work under the leadership of a senior researcher and in the use of sophisticated equipment usually obtained by the leader. Those disciplines, like some branches of physics, may feature only one dominant paradigm (see Zarur, 1990b).

In spite of the very direct relationship between the shape of small groups in science and in the encompassing culture, the ("internal") contents of biological paradigms do not have any direct relationship with Brazilian national culture. There is not, for instance, a relationship between "evolutionism, "progress" and "expansion of European civilization", as could be asserted for some European countries. The only possible exception would be the case of Sanitation, which melted national hope and science. The relationship of the socio-cultural environment to the contents of knowledge is indirect, set by the direction of dependence, first towards Europe and later towards the U.S. The mission of Brazilian science is not the creation of new paradigms but to be informed of the existing paradigms. The role of the scientist is that of cultural broker.

Brazilian zoology paradigms are methodologically exclusive, but several zoologists have been looking for a truce in the field's internal disputes. This is possible because there was no radical scientific revolution in Brazilian zoology with the extinction of previous paradigms. Besides, outsiders see the zoologist's community as unified, and it has to show itself to society and to the state as possessing a minimum level of internal consensus. After the state (through its funding agency, CNPq) called zoologists for evaluation and planning their field, different schools were forced to compromise. As the existing paradigms are not mutually acceptable from a theoretical viewpoint, compromise was achieved by way of practical utility: traditional taxonomy is considered to be very useful for surveys; phenetics are seen as an excellent alternative for studying zoological groups that traditional taxonomy has problems to deal with; evolution is for "those who are interested in theory."

In spite of the role that paradigms play in science, zoologists see most of their work as a reflection of the zoological groups - the taxonomic class - rather than of any theoretical viewpoint. The majority of Brazilian zoologists work with their particular zoological group, using traditional techniques - theory is reserved for teaching. The organization of Brazilian zoology which existed before the founding of the Brazilian Zoological Society confirms this emphasis on research focused on a class and not focused on a paradigm. Entomology, for example, has always been a separate subfield with intense internal communication. There are presently two entomology societies, (one limited to agricultural entomology), and active societies on ichthyology, herpetology, ornithology, mastozoology, primatology, malacology.

The need for specializing in a specific group is justified by some zoologists because:

"A person is able to memorize a maximum of 1500 names, which is very little compared to the diversity of the animal world".

The above statement says a lot about the worldview of the majority of the zoologists. It is not directly associated with theory, but with a priori classifications, with Linnaean "keys". I suspect that several theoretical choices may depend on the zoological group the individual zoologist works with. It is no coincidence that philogenetics was spread in Brazil by Nelson Papavero. He knew about philogenetics, because as a dyptorologist, he coordinated a Dyptera catalog, and received Hennigs' papers. The knowledge and diffusion of the paradigm was through the communication channel set up by the study of a particular zoological group.

Not only is the organization of the scientific community founded on the zoological group, the administrative structure of museums and research institutions seems to stem from the "Systema Naturae". Traditional natural history museums had departments or divisions organized by the different fields, botany, zoology, geology, paleontology and anthropology (usually including archaeology and linguistics". The zoology department usually has internal "divisions" in accordance with the main taxonomic classes. Thus, there is, in general, a vertebrate and an invertebrate division. Sometimes there is a separate entomology division. Reptiles and amphibia are kept together because they are conserved in alcohol.

An organization stemming from zoological groups is compatible with the patrimonialist vision that permeates Brazilian culture and science (see Zarur, 1990). Each scientist is the absolute master of a zoological group in his institution. Sometimes he is the absolute master of the zoological group

in which he specializes, in the country or even in the world, because, depending on the case, very few or no other scientists may know well the group that he studies. Tropical diversity allows this kind of situation. This form of segmentation of nature reinforces group cohesion, assuring a safe political and institutional space for each one of its members. On the other hand, the survival of a group depends on the paradigm (associated with its leader) that identify the group. These sociological characteristics of the field of zoology may represent a reason for the survival in Brazil, when zoology departments are being closed around the world.

The resistance of Brazilian zoology plays a positive role. Brazil can only win with the support of its zoology, and other traditional fields of knowledge, born from the natural history seed. They are well-established in the country, are "affordable" - not requiring spectacular equipment, and as their intellectual challenge identifies one of the most important national problems: the comprehensive knowledge of nature.


I would like to thank Jean Jackson, Parry Russel Scott and Fred Hay, who helped me with the English review and commented this draft. They cannot be blamed for any deficiency that remain. I would also like to thank David Maybury-Lewis and the Department of Anthropology that received me as a visiting scholar .-t Harvard University, where this paper was written. The Fulbright Commission and CAPES (Coordenação Aperfeiçoamiento de Pessoal de Ensino Superior) made possible my permanence in the U.S. through a fellowship. The Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia (IBICT/CNPq), where I am a researcher, provided my wages during my work in the U.S. None of the individuals or institutions referred should be held responsible for the views exposed herein. Finally my gratitude to all zoologists who helped me with information about their field.


  1. This paper is the result of a research project on Brazilian science dealing in particular with the fields of geophysics and zoology (Zarur 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990a). This project examines the relationship between science, as an ideology, and concrete forms of social organization in the scientific milieu in relation to the broader cultural contexts.
  2. This is one possible understanding of the Kuhnian concept, among the 21 different ways that the term "paradigm" was used in the "Structure of the Scientific Revolutions" (Masterman, 1970).
  3. Other reasons are that ecological research is performed mainly by zoologists and botanists and that traditional natural inventories are still very important, for Amazon, for example.
  4. Fieldwork on the field of zoology was carried out in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brazilia with some of the most important leaders of Brazilian zoology. Citations were drawn from interviews and several times the sources were not named, as it is usual in this type of research. The few bibliographical sources on the issue were Stepan (1976), Narchi (1979) and Pinto (1956). It was unfortunately impossible to travel to the Brazilian state of Paraná, to gather information about an important group of zoologists of the local university. Anyway "phenetics", the theoretical approach worked by this group was one of the paradigms that I discuss in this paper. I could not however study the related school and the institutional development that made it possible in Brazil.

  1. In most parts of Brazil, most of the population lived under paternalistic conditions, implying a tight loyalty between social classes. By the unwritten contract between the landowner and those who lived on his land, the latter would receive a piece of land, to guarantee his subsistence. This "generosity" was a result of abundance of land and agricultural products, in a country in' which agricultural production was mostly marginal to external markets. Where the export oriented plantation system was dominant, there was not such a concession.
  2. On the overall role of Sanitation in Europe and in the "colonial" countries see Loom (10H).
  3. As a result of the prestige of Manguinhos and of the National Museum, most scientific production in zoology in Brazil was concentrated in Rio de Janeiro. Since the sixties São Paulo has presented most of the production in zoology in the country.
  4. Professor Sousa Lopes, whom I interviewed shortly before his death at the age of 82, was respected and cherished by his colleagues. He was fired from Manguinhos by the military and returned only with the Brazilian political amnesty.
  5. The "Museu Paraense" was not in operation from 1930 to 1954 when it began to be administered and funded by the Federal government.
  6. In 1939, botany and zoology were separated in different institutions. Zoology went to the "Department of Zoology of the Secretary of Agriculture", later the "Institute of Zoology", and finally the "Museum of zoology".
  7. German Ethnology, until recently, shared the empiricist premise with the remaining "natural history" fields. It was characterized by excellent ethnography and by the absence of a comparative theoretical approach.
  8. More or less at the same time, Professor Jose Candido de Melo Carvalho was also trained in an American University. He had however a "classical", non-evolutionist zoological formation.
  9. It is remarkable that evolutionism penetrated systematic zoology only in the thirties, especially in England. The first book on the theme was "New Systematics" by Julian Huxley. The first Brazilian to use this expression was Paulo Vanzolini, in the forties. The first to bring the concept of evolution to Brazilian biology was the American geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who spent several years in São Paulo.
  10. Until the early eighties, the main influence on CNPq, in the choice of members of the Advisory committees came from the Brazilian Academy of Sciences seated in Rio de Janeiro. Several São Paulo scientific fields lived of local support. Since 1985, São Paulo has been the main influence on Brazilian National Science and Technology policy, replacing Rio de Janeiro.
  11. Other zoologists like professor Dalton Amorin also participated in the spreading of this new paradigm in Brazilian zoology.
  12. There are remarkable similarities between cladistics and linguistic theories developed by the Prague school, which would lead to structuralism in linguistics and anthropology. Cladistics, as these other approaches which appeared before it, is based on oppositional thought.



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