By Bruce Miller, UBC
Daniel Brasil, a recent PhD graduate of the UBC department of anthropology, has tragically died recently. I learned from the Brasilian consulate in Vancouver that he was helping some construction workers and a pillar fell on his head. He was a member of the Brasilian diplomatic service. Daniel completed the first joint PhD in anthropology with UBC and the University of Brasilia in 2016. He carried out long term field work with Quilomobo communities of Brasil, the topic of his book O Mar Virou Sertao, published in 2014. He also worked for two years with a Yoruban-descended Afro-Cuban community in Matanzas, a small city northeast of Havana, and with First Nations and American Indians of North America. He was engaged in a project of mapping and recording community oral histories with the Afro-Cubans at the time of his death. Daniel greatly enjoyed working in the field and lending his assistance to communities he understood as “underdogs.” He used this term to refer to those aware of the subordination they experienced through colonialism yet searching for ways to use the legal and administrative structures of the nation-state to challenge and improve their circumstances.
Daniel was both my former student, shared with Stephen Baines of the University of Brasilia, and my friend. We spent time in the field together on many occasions and enjoyed the hospitality of each other’s homes. I use the Brasilian spelling here in honour of Daniel’s family name and his country of Brasil.