Professor Teresa Caldeira pays homage to her friend and mentor, the anthropologist and former first lady of Brazil, Ruth Cardoso.
Ruth Cardoso always had a new project. There was always something new that she wanted to understand and, frequently, something she would like to change. She had an incredible sensibility to detect emerging social practices, a sensibility anchored in ethnographic research and observations about the everyday. When she embarked on any of her projects, one thing was certain: she was not going to take a conventional approach. She always looked for alternative perspectives, and many of her initiatives both in academia and in her roles as a public intellectual, feminist, and politician were far ahead of her time. As a result, she faced quite a bit of opposition, which she took calmly but also forcibly. When she died unexpectedly on June 24th of this year, everyone agreed that she had created her own space and left a strong mark on all of the many spheres in which she had crafted her life: anthropology and the university, her family and friends, the field of nonprofit organizations and social policy and the institution of the “first lady of Brazil.”