Michael Landon, a former missionary to Brazil, is currently finishing his dissertation for a PhD in intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Seminary. The following are taken from his Annotated Bibliography on Brazil for Experienced Missionaries, Revised Edition, 1994. The following citations have applications to more than just Brazil.
This book deserves special mention. Although it focuses on Spanish speaking countries and is dated, it made so many things clearer for me! The best part is the first half, where Nida explains three important contrasts in Latin American life. He explains that Latin Americans are both authoritarian and individualist, idealistic and realistic, and machistic and hebrimistic (woman-centered). It is this tension between these two poles that confuses us North Americans because we expect one type of behavior, not both. If you read, or reread, only one thing from this bibliography, I recommend this book.
Urban Brazilians believe in the limited good, that is the increase in the wealth of one person is directly related to the decrease in wealh of another person. There is a limited amount of wealth in the world. This is a foundational article on this concept.
A simple article explaining that Westerners assume a difference between natural and supernatural which many other cultures do not. If western missionaries do not teach about relationships between earth and spirits, many will fill in this unnatural void with folk religion or magic. Hiebert calls for a missionary encounter with the other culture on three levels: truth (ultimate), power (human experience) and empiricism (natural truth).
1991 "The Hidden Middle," MARC Newsletter, numbers 91-2 (June):3-4.
These short articles are based on Hiebert's, but explain the results of using western science (for example geological surveys looking for water) in cultures with magical worldviews. Often, Christian development teams contribute to magical perceptions of reality by using modern science. Myers recommends making well digging a part of a covenant between religious people, so that when the work is successful, God can be glorified.
This article explained group vs. self orientation. The two authors distinguished between group/individual orientation and self/ other orientation. The key difference, according to the authors, is that although Latin Americans are group-oriented, their point of reference is self, not other. They give an example of a Mexican's rights being put in question. While a North American is likely to go from the general to the specific (all men are created equal, therefore I can do this), the Latin will likely begin with self (I am a man and can do what I please); his own rights are primary, and it is others' rights which are derived.
This is an important source, but of special notice is that in some societies, patron-client relationships become the central aspect of institutional and structural organization.
Lomnitz explains the concepts and practical manifestations of friendship in Latin America She lists the types of services performed in the compradrazgo system, rules of reciprocity and their relationship to the degrees of social distance (called confianza).
One of the best parts of Leeds' article is Teixeira's figure of Brazilian power structure. The society is divided between the classes and the masses, with a very small cupula on top. The classes are largely comprised of interest groups (i.e., railroad workers, bank workers, government employees, dock workers) striving for influence on and favors from the cupula. All one has to do is read the paper or listen to the news to hear these interest groups mentioned repeatedly. The figure is somewhat dated, and I would add multi-national corporations as an outside force acting on the cupula much as the Catholic church does in his diagram. Among these interest groups, networking is important -- within each (ingrejinhas) and group to group (panelinhas).
Loewen, a former translation consultant with the United Bible Society, discusses the difference between the expectations of the sending church and those of the people to whom he or she goes. He notes that the latter may significantly change the missionary's views: "If you come home totally intact and can fit into the home community without any strain, you probably learned very little worthwhile ... when we return to our home community for good, we suddenly realize how poorly we fit into the home church setting. There seemed to be almost no relationship between our concerns and those of the home church that had originally sent us." (page 259).
For this author, culture shock is a sign of emotional engagement in the culture and necessary for a true learning process of the new culture. His thesis is that the learning of a culture is through resocialization and transference (the interpreting of present relationships with the emotions of an old or fanaticized relationships). More specifically, learning a culture is like becoming a child again, and often prompts the emotions and crisis (and dreams) we suffered as children (powerless, not understanding, etc.). But then as the foreigner/child learns the societies way of life, he becomes an adult (closer to an emic understanding of the culture).
This is a collection of interesting and often humorous reflections of anthropologists about times they failed or embarrassed themselves. It makes fieldwork much more real and less intimidating, and indicates that anthropologists seem to do no better than missionaries when it comes to making fools of themselves.