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Arthur Ramos

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Psychiatrist, Social psychologist, Ethnologist, Anthropologist, Folklorist


Arthur Ramos

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 18/07/2017

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

[...] The[work] of ArthurRamoswasanevolution of psychiatryto anthropology, psychology, folklore, anthropology.In the centreof his studies, blackBrazilians.[...]
Antônio Carlos Villaça, Jornal do Brasil, 31 Oct. 1974.

Arthur de Araújo Pereira Ramos was born in the municipality of Pilar, todayManguaba, in Alagoas, inthe house at 195 Amazonas Street (nowadaysWenceslau Batista Avenue), on 7July 1903, to doctor Manuel Ramos de Araújo and Ana Ramos.

He began his primary studies in Pilar, completing them in Maceió, at St John’s College and the Alagoas Lyceum. At the age of15, in 1918, he had his first work published in print exactly as he had written. It was a letter addressed to his brother, Nilo Ramos, chief-editor of the weekly O Pilar, praising the newspaper that published it,under the title Letter.

In 1921, he joined the Bahia Faculty of Medicine, receiving the title of Doctor of Medical Surgical Sciences, after the defence of the thesis Primitivo e loucura(Primitive and Madness) in 1926, a work that was praised by Sigmund Freud and by the famous Swiss psychiatrist Paul EugenBleuler.

While still a medical student, he began contributing to newspapers in Alagoas and Bahia, publishing several articles on folklore, such as O culto da lua na história e no folclore(Worship of the Moon in History and Folklore), Tradições Africo-brasileiras(Afro-Brazilian Traditions) (1922); Cavalhadas (1923), Folclore e sociologia(Folklore and Sociology), A poesia popular(Popular Poetry), A ciência do folclore(The Science ofFolklore), and Autos de Natal(Christmas Plays) (1924).

He carried out various activities in Bahia institutions, including the São João de DeusHospital, where he studied the phenomenon of possession among the black people of Bahia, and the Nina Rodrigues Institute, where as coroner he developed scientific writings on criminology, forensic medicine and forensic psychopathology.

In 1928, he appliedto be Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at theBahia Faculty of Medicine, defending his thesis A sordície nos alienados: ensaio de uma psicopatologia da imundice, (The squalor of the alienated: an essay on the psychopathology of filth), a work that was also highly praised by Professor Paul Bleuler.

Appointed by Anísio Teixeira as Head of the Technical Section of Mental Health and Mental Hygiene of the Department of Education of the General Secretariat of Education and Culture, in the Federal District at the time, he moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1934, where he set up the first ‘orthophrenic’clinics(branch of medicine that deals with mental illness) in the Experimental Schools, inaugurating the first Mental Health Service applied to School in the country. He was also appointed Professor of Social Psychology at the University of the Federal District (then Rio de Janeiro) by Afrânio Peixoto.

He married in Luisa Gallet1935, the widow of Luciano Gallet, who was his great collaborator and to whom he dedicated several works. They had no children.

He participated in the 2nd Bahia Afro-Brazilian Congress in 1936, presenting works in which he argued for the prioritising of African studies in the state and emphasising the importance of Bahia-born researcher Nina Rodrigues.

From 1937,while still working in medical clinics,Arthur Ramos turned more and more to the study of Brazilian culture and folklore, specialising in the field of anthropology. He was an intellectual with knowledge in different areas, such as psychiatry, education, psychology, forensic medicine, mental hygiene, anthropology, ethnography and neurology,and his activities encompassedteaching, research, clinical, educational and criminal practices.
Awarded with a scholarship by the Guggenheim Foundation in 1941, he travelled to the United States to participate in round tables and speak at US universities, including Harvard, Louisiana, Columbia, California, Minnesota and Yale.

On his return to Brazil in 1941, he founded the Brazilian Society of Anthropology and Ethnography, becoming its first president.
He was a member of several scientific institutions in Brazil, such as the Brazilian Society of Neurology and Psychiatry and the Brazilian League of Mental Hygiene.

In apublic contest for the chair of Anthropology at the University of Brazil in 1945, with the thesis A organização dual entre os índios brasileiros(The dual organization of the Brazilian Indians), he presented 1,234 titles, 432 books and articles published, 96 courses and conferences and 57 interviewsin his curriculumvitae.

His books were translated in Mexico, United States, Germany and France.

He was invited,at the end of the 1940s, to exercise the position of Director at the Department of Social Sciences of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris, being responsible for the drafting of the UNESCO Project in Brazil,employed in the 1950s.

Among his major works, the followingstand out:

Primitivo e loucura(Primitive and Madness)(1926); A sordície nos alienados: ensaio de uma psicopatologia da imundice(The Squalor of the Alienated: anessayon the psychopathology of filth)(1928); Estudos de psicanálise(Studies of Psychoanalysis)(1931); Os horizontes místicos do negro da Bahia(The Mystics Horizons of BlackPeople of Bahia)(1932); Psiquiatria e psicanálise(Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis)(1933?); A técnica da psicanálise infantil... (The Technique of Child Psychoanalysis...) (1933); Freud, Adler, Jung: ensaio de psicanálise ortodoxa e herética(Freud, Adler, Jung: an essay on heretical and orthodox psychoanalysis)(1933); O negro brasileiro: etnografia religiosa e psicanálise(Black Brazilians: religious ethnography and psychoanalysis)(1934); Educação e psicanálise(Education and Psychoanalysis)(1934); A higiene mental nas escolas: esquema de organização(Mental Hygiene in schools: organisation scheme)(1935); O folk-lore negro do Brasil: demopsicologia e psicanálise(Black Folklore of Brazil: socialpsychology and psychoanalysis)(1935); Introdução à Psicologia Social(Introduction to Social Psychology)(1936); A mentira infantil(The ChildishLie)(1937); Loucura e crime: questões de psiquiatria, medicina forense e psicologia social (Madness and Crime: issues in psychiatry, forensic medicine and social psychology)(1937); As culturas negras no Novo Mundo(Black Cultures in the New World)(1937); Saúde do espírito: higiene mental(Spiritual Health: mental hygiene)(1939); Pauperismo e higiene mental(Pauperism and Mental Hygiene)(1939); A criança problema: a higiene mental na escola primária(The Problem Child: mental hygiene at primary school)(1939); O negro brasileiro(The Black Brazilian)(1940); A aculturação negra no Brasil(Black Acculturation in Brazil)(1942); Guerra e relações de raça(War and Race Relations)(1943); Laspoblacionesdel Brasil (1944); As Ciências Sociais e os problemas de após-guerra(Social Sciences and the Post-war Problems)(1944); Introdução à antropologia brasileira(Introduction to Brazilian Anthropology)(1943-1947, 2 v.); A organização dual entre os índios brasileiros(The Dual Organization of the Brazilian Indians)(1945); Curriculum Vitae (a type of autobiography, 1945); A renda de bilros e sua aculturação no Brasil(The Bobbin Lace and itsAcculturation in Brazil)(with the collaboration of his wife,Luiza Ramos, 1948).
The following works were published posthumously:Estudos de folk-lore: definições e limites, teorias de intepretação(Studies of folk-lore: definitions and boundaries, theories of interpretation) (1951), Le metissage au Brésil (Paris, 1952), O negro na civilização brasileira(Blacks in Brazilian civilization) (1956) and A mestiçagem no Brasil(Miscegenation in Brazil) (2004).

Arthur Ramos died in Parisfrom a pulmonary oedemaat the age of 46, on 31October1949.


Recife, 19 october 2010
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
Update: july 18, 2017.

sources consulted

ARTHUR Ramos [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>.  Acesso em: 18 jul. 2017. 

GIRÃO, Valdelice Carneiro. Arthur Ramos e sua coleção. Fortaleza: UFCE, Imprensa Universitária, 1983.

LAGES, Lily. Arthur Ramos e sua luta contra a discriminação racial. Rio de Janeiro: Folha Carioca, [1997?].

RIOS, José Arthur. Arthur Ramos, de Araujo Pereira. Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro, ano 166, n. 428, p. 177-179, jul./set. 2005.

SAPUCAIA, Antonio (Org.). Relembrando Arthur Ramos. Maceió: Edufal, 2003.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Arthur Ramos. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.