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Nelson Sanjad

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Nelson Sanjad

Nelson Sanjad is dedicated to the social history of sciences in the Amazon region. He is Senior Researcher at the Goeldi Museum, a research unit of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (since 2002). His current research project addresses the construction of scientific knowledge about the Amazon from a transnational perspective. He is interested in the circulation of naturalists/scientists, ideas and collections gathered at the Amazon, as well as the process of appropriation, translation and elision of native knowledge. His recent publications include the relationship of Indigenous people and museums, circulation of plants, history of zoo and botanical gardens, intertextuality in scientific works and travel reports. He also works on the biography of European scientists and explorers who lived in the Amazon, born in France, Germany and Switzerland. 

Nelson Sanjad participe au Programme Professeurs invités de l'EHESS, sur proposition de Anne Rasmussen (EHESS, CAK), Elise Demeulenaere (CNRS, CAK) et Emilie Stoll (LC2S, CAK), durant les mois d'octobre et novembre 2023.


Conférences en anglais.

Science and politics on the Amazon frontier: Henri Coudreau and Emil Goeldi in the Franco-Brazilian Dispute, 1895-1900

The research addresses the participation of the Swiss zoologist Emil Goeldi (1859-1917), director of the Museu Paraense de História Natural e Etnografia between 1894 and 1907, and the French explorer Henri Coudreau (1859-1899) in the diplomatic dispute that put Brazil and France in opposite sides, both disputing an extensive area of the current state of Amapá, between the Oiapoque and Araguari rivers. The political landmarks of the dispute in the 19th century are presented, as well as the scientific production resulting from the expeditions of Coudreau and the Museu Paraense’s staff to the place and how this was used to support, respectively, French and Brazilian interests. We also demonstrate Goeldi’s performance in diplomatic negotiations, under the orders of the plenipotentiary minister of Brazil, the Baron of Rio Branco. At the end, an approach is suggested for the process of institutionalization of science in the Amazon, bearing in mind the relationship between Science and the State in an economic and scientific frontier like the Amazon in 19th century.

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Nicolas Verdier "Épistémologie et histoire de la géographie", EHESS

20 octobre 2023, 14h-16h / Campus Condorcet, Bâtiment de recherche Sud, salle 1.122


The relation between the Kayapó Menbêngôkre and the Goeldi Museum (Brazilian Amazon, 1900-2000)

The research addresses the transformations in the relationship between museums and Indigenous peoples along the 20th century. We carefully observe the case of the Goeldi Museum, founded in 1866 and located in Belem (Amazon region). This Brazilian institution has the longest history of contact with an indigenous people, specifically the Mebêngôkre, better known as Kayapo. Three key moments in the construction of ties between the Goeldi Museum and the Mebêngôkre are analyzed: a) the transition from the 19th to the 20th century, when religious missions were financed by the State and compulsory intermediaries between the Indigenous people and national society; b) the 1930s, when migratory movements to the Amazon region and the dictates of an oligarchy that strengthened itself through land control - especially in Brazil nut production areas - threatened the physical and territorial integrity of this people; and, c) the 1980s-1990s, when opposition to the developmentalism of the military regime emerged and crystallized into a socio-environmental model that recognizes the importance of the role of Indigenous peoples and traditional populations in the Amazon. The research concludes by advocating the importance assumed, in the 21st century, by collaborative research and participatory museology, both for their scientific qualification and for the appreciation of Indigenous knowledge with profound political, social, and environmental repercussions.

Dans le cadre du séminaire d'Andrée Bergeron et André Delpuech "Musées, savoirs et sociétés", EHESS

15 novembre 2023, 14h-17h / Jardin des Plantes, Grand amphithéâtre d’entomologie (entrée par le 43 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris)


Living collections in an Amazonian museum : political ecology, nature control and social sensibilities (1890-1920)

The research addresses the construction of the Goeldi Museum's botanical garden and zoo, located in the Brazilian Amazon. Three issues will be highlighted: a) the link between this space, the rubber trade and the exploration of the Amazonian territory; b) the principles that supported its construction; c) the emotions and behaviors it aroused in the local society.

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Serge Reubi, Mathilde Gallay Keller et Mélanie Roustan "Les collections au prisme des sciences humaines et sociales : les collections vivantes", EHESS

16 novembre 2023, 14h-17h / Jardin des Plantes, Grand amphithéâtre d’entomologie (entrée par le 43 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris)    


The role of Amerindian societies in the globalization of plants and the development of science (18th and 19th centuries)

This research gives visibility to Amazonian indigenous peoples in the global process of circulation of plants and associated knowledge. I first highlight the central role of indigenous peoples in the cultivation, collection and processing of plants during the Brazilian colonial period (until 1822). Then I try to show that these activities were influenced by internal colonial dynamics, as well as by international relations. The case of the ayapana herb is analyzed in detail. This plant became known worldwide at the beginning of the nineteenth century thanks to the interactions among indigenous knowledge, Portuguese colonial politics and the performance of military and naturalists of different nationalities. Examples like this show that, in the process of building botany, which occurred concurrently with the globalization of plants, indigenous peoples provided specimens and knowledge, not always recognized in historical and scientific narratives

Dans le cadre du séminaire de Anath Ariel de Vidas, Olivier Allard, Isabelle Daillant et Andrea-Luz Gutierrez-Choquevilca,"Anthropologie Américaniste", EHESS

17 novembre 2023, 10h-12h / Maison Suger


Nelson Sanjad interviendra également dans le cadre du colloque de clôture du projet EXORIGINS : De l’altérité des plantes et des humains. Circulations globales et (ré)appropriations locales. Ce colloque est organisé les 12 et 13 octobre 2023 au Parc Floral de Paris (Pavillon 1) par Emilie Stoll (CNRS, LC2S, CAK), Eugénie Denarnaud (ENSP), Liliana Motta (artiste) et Aurore Duchemin (EFAP). Il interviendra lors de la table-ronde intitulée "La plante-objet au prisme des enjeux migratoires et environnementaux contemporains" (12 octobre 2023, après-midi).