Imagem card

Edison Carneiro

Date Born.:

Journalist, poet, jurist, folklorist

Law and social sciences

Edison Carneiro

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 03/10/2017

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Doutor Edison Carneiro (Dr Edison Carneiro)
Folclorista nacional, (National folklorist)
Filho da terra baiana (Son of the land of Bahia)
Que hoje é nome imortal. (Which is now an immortal name.)
No folclore brasileiro (In Brazilian folklore)
Doutor Edison Carneiro (Dr Edison Carneiro)
Bem merece um pedestal. (Is well worth a pedestal.)
(Rodolfo Coelho Cavalcante)

Edison Carneiro de Souza was born on 12August 1912, in Salvador, Bahia. His father, Antônio Joaquim de Souza Carneiro, was a civil engineer and professor at the Polytechnic School of Bahia.

He attended primary and secondary schoolin Salvador, graduating in Law and Social Sciences from the State’s Faculty of Law in 1936 (class of 1935).

Journalist, poet, jurist and folklorist, he devoted himself to the studies on Brazilian black people, becoming one of the greatest Brazilian authorities on African-Brazilian cults.

At the age of sixteen, he joined the Academy of Rebels literary group (1928-1932), whose leader was the journalist Pinheiro Viegas, and also had writer Jorge Amado participating. That year he began his career as a journalist, publishing a collection of poems entitled Musa Capenga (Lame Muse) in the Salvador newspaper A Noite (The Night)from November 24 to27.

Ah, negra faceira! (Ah, beautiful black woman!)

Que tolice, minha negra, (What nonsense, my black woman)

que você tenha (that you have)
espichado (stretched)
seu cabelo. (your hair.)
Para que (What is)
essa beleza (this artificial)
artificial [?]. (beauty for [?])
Vou ao Pau Miúdo (I go to Pau Miúdo)
e trago, (and bring,)
para botar na sua porta (to put on your door)
uma coisa feita, (a sortilege,)
dessas que fazem (of the kind that makes you)
morrer de amor, (dye of love,)
preparada, (prepared)
minha beleza, (my beauty,)
pelas mãos (by the hands)
do grande mago (of the great magician)

In the early 1930s, he began to take interest in African-Brazilian cults, folklore and popular culture. He took a course in Yorubá, a language spoken in West Africa, mainly in Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Sierra Leone. Here in Brazil it is known as ‘Nagô’ and isspoken primarily in religious rites of African origin.

Hired by the newspaper Estado da Bahia (1936), he wrote about the rites and feasts of Candomblé in Bahia, being one of the greatest defenders of freedom for this practice. He then moved from contributor to editor of the newspaper and in the following year, also worked for a few months at the Bahia-Journal. He was also contributor on severaloccasionsto the journals A Luva (The Glove), O Momento (The Moment), Revista Flama (Flame Magazine), Boletim de Ariel (Bulletin of Ariel), Seiva (Nectar) and Diretrizes(Guidelines).

In 1937, he organized the 2nd Afro-Brazilian Congress, held in Salvador from11-20 January. In his opening speech, Carneiro defined that:

[...] This Congress aims to study the influence of the African element in Brazil’s development, from the point of view of ethnography, folklore, art, anthropology, history, sociology, law, social psychology,ultimately, all the problems of race relations in the country. Eminently scientific, but also eminently popular, this Congress not only brings together the work of experts and intellectuals in Brazil and abroad, but is also of interest to the public, to the elements connected by traditions of culture, by atavism, or by any other reason, to artistic, economic, religious life, of Black people in Brazil. [...]

As one of the developments of the Congress, on 3August 1937, the Bahian Union of Afro-Brazilian Cults was established in Salvador.

In 1939, Édison Carneiro moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he became a contributor to the newspaper O Jornal (The Journal). Later, sponsored by the National Museum, he was sent to Bahia to collect material on popular cults and order life-size rag dolls dressed as various African deities to be made.

He married Magdalena Botelho de Souza Carneiro in 1940, with whom he had two sons, Philon (1945) and Lídia (1948).

He returned to Rio de Janeiro, where he worked as a translator-editor and editor in chief of The Associated Press from 1941 to 1949, editor of the British News Service (1941) and of the newspaperÚltima Hora (Last Hour),as well as contributing to the Jornal do Brasil(1956-1966).

He held various positions, including head of the National Confederation of Industry’s Economic Department’s Disclosure Section, and head of the Social Service of Industry’s (SESI)Section of Studies and Planning.

In 1953,he was hired by the Coordination of Improvement in Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), under the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC), to write its Monthly Bulletin, a position he held for ten years, from 1956 to 1966.

He was a Professor of Folklore Bibliography in the Library Course of the National Library and of Popular Culture atthe Villa-Lobos Institute, and also taught several courses as a visiting professor in the Faculties of Philosophy of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco and Paraná.

He was also one of those responsible for structuring the Ministry of Education’s Campaign for the Defence of Brazilian Folklore, participating as a member of its Technical Council from 1958 to 1961, and was appointed executive director in from 1961 to 1964.

He travelled to Africa with the objective of researching the acculturation of Africans in Brazilian society, especially the Yorubás or Nagô.

Publicou diversos livros e artigos de periódicos nas áreas da etnologia e do folclore, da história e até da literatura. Entre os quais podem ser destacados: Religiões negras: notas de etnografia religiosa (1936); Negros bantus (1937); O quilombo dos Palmares (1947); Trajetória de Castro Alves (1947); Candomblés da Bahia (1948); Antologia do negro brasileiro (organizador, 1950); O folclore nacional, 1943-1953 (1954); A cidade do Salvador: reconstituição histórica (1954); O negro brasileiro (1956); Decimália: os cultos de origem africana no Brasil (1959); A insurreição Praieira, 1848-1849 (1960); Folklore in Brazil, tradução de Evolução dos estudos de folclore no Brasil, com texto também em francês e alemão (1963); Ladinos e crioulos: estudo sobre o negro no Brasil (1964); Dinâmica do folclore (1965); A sabedoria popular do Brasil: samba, batuque, capoeira e outras danças e costumes (1968); Folguedos tradicionais (1974); Capoeira (1975).

He published several books and journal articles in the fields of ethnology and folklore, history and even literature. Among which the following stand out: Religiões negras: notas de etnografia religiosa (Black Religions: notes on religious ethnography)(1936); Negros bantus(Black Bantu People)(1937), Quilombo dos Palmares (1947); Trajetória de Castro Alves (The Path of Castro Alves) (1947); Candomblés da Bahia (Candomblés of Bahia) (1948), Antologia do negro brasileiro (Anthology of Black Brazilians) (organizer, 1950); O folclore nacional1943-1953 (National Folklore, 1943-1953) (1954);A cidade do Salvador: reconstituição histórica (The City of Salvador: historical reconstitution) (1954); O negro brasileiro (The Black Brazilian) (1956); Decimália: os cultos de origem africana no Brasil (Decimália: cults of African origin in Brazil)(1959), A insurreição Praieira1848-1849 (The PraieiraRevolt, 1848-1849) (1960);Folklore in Brazil, translation of Evolution of Folklore Studies in Brazil, with text in French and German (1963), Ladinos e crioulos: estudo sobre o negro no Brasil (Rogues and Creoles: study of the Black in Brazil) (1964), Dinâmica do folclore (Folklore Dynamics) (1965), A sabedoria popular do Brasil: samba, batuque, capoeira e outras danças e costumes (The Popular Wisdom of Brazil: samba, drumming, capoeira and other dances and customs) (1968), Folguedos tradicionais (Traditional Merriments) (1974), Capoeira (1975).

Edison Carneiro died in Rio de Janeiro on 3December 1972.


Recife, 28 may 2010
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
Updated on 15 august 2017.

sources consulted

CAVALCANTI, Rodolfo Coelho. Dr. Édison Carneiro: o gigante do folclore afro-brasileiro. Salvador: [s.n;, s.d.]. 8 p. (Folheto de cordel).

EDISON Carneiro. A Tarde, Salvador, 7 dez. 1972. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em 25 maio 2010.

EDISON Carneiro [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em 14 ago. 2017.

O NEGRO no Brasil: trabalhos apresentados ao 2º Congresso Afro-Brasileiro (Bahia). Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1940.

A POESIA de Edison Carneiro descoberta por Gilfrancisco. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em; 26 maio 2010.

SANTOS, Osmário. 30 anos sem Edison Carneiro. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 25 maio 2010.

SOUTO MAIOR, Mário. Dicionário de folcloristas brasileiros. Recife: 20-20 Comunicação e Editora, 1999. p. 52.

how to quote this text

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