Aristoteles Barcelos Neto

Aristoteles Barcelos Neto


  • 0.11 Sainsbury Centre

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Academic Background

B.A. Museology; Universidade Federal da Bahia (1996)

M.Phil. Social Anthropology; Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (1999)

Ph.D. Social Anthropology; Universidade de São Paulo (2004)


Dr Aristoteles Barcelos Neto is specialized in the anthropology of South American Indians. He has been researching the arts and material culture of Upper Xingu Indigenous Peoples since 1993, and has carried out fieldwork in Brazilian Amazonia (Mato Grosso State) and the Peruvian Andes (Ancash, Puno and Cusco Departments) where he produced and directed ethnographic films (full album at He is research fellow at the Centre for Mesoamerican and Andean Studies of the University of São Paulo, and member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-UNESCO) and the Portuguese Anthropological Association (APA). He made Amazonian ethnographic collections for museums in France, Brazil, Portugal and Germany. Worked on curatorial projects at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Salvador), Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Norwich), National Museum of Ethnology (Lisbon), SESC (São Paulo) and Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso (Mexico). Produced and directed, together with the Wauja Indians, the show La danse des grands masques amazoniens for the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier (2005). He was CNPq visiting researcher at the Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Sociale du Collège de France (2007), FAPESP visiting researcher at the University of São Paulo (2011-2012) and Newton Fund/FAPESP visiting researcher at the State University of Campinas (2016-2017).


Dr Barcelos Neto, who joined the School in 2007, was previously a visiting researcher at the Collège de France in Paris. His doctorate at the University of São Paulo was awarded the National Science Council prize for best Ph.D. dissertation.

Key Research Interests

Anthropology of South American Indians 

Anthropology of Art and Material Culture

Museology and Cultural Heritage


Current project - Upper Xingu material culture in the past, present and future: collaborative documentation of a multiethnic tradition in Brazilian Amazonia. Funded by the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme, British Museum

This project focuses on the documentation of ceramics and woven artefacts in the Upper Xingu region, in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. The Upper Xingu is a plurilingual and multi-ethnic regional system. The project will work with the Carib-speaking Kuikuro and the Arawak-speaking Wauja. Its three main goals are to: a) support local people in researching and documenting their material culture both in the village and in museums; b) create a digital database on material culture, past and present, as a durable instrument for safeguarding knowledge; c) revalorise and stimulate the transmission of this knowledge between generations. The major aim is not to make another collection, physical or virtual, but to serve as a spark capable of realigning the local chain of cultural knowledge transmission, which is endangered by the invasion of commodities. The project team has over twenty years of experience in research, documentation and shared cultural production in the region. It works with new technologies of memory as a means to engage the younger generation in projects, making youngsters simultaneously the agents of the documentation, and the recipients of the documented knowledge. This process rejuvenates the chain of transmission, and attributes new social value to both the old masters and the young indigenous researchers.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities