A Half-Century Portrait: Health Transition in the Xavante Indians from Central Brazil

  • Ricardo Ventura SantosEmail author
  • Carlos E. A. CoimbraJr.
  • James R. Welch
Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN, volume 1)


This chapter discusses some of the most recent studies that have been conducted among the indigenous Xavante people in Central Brazil by members of the research group Health, Epidemiology and Anthropology of Indigenous Peoples, coordinated by Ricardo Ventura Santos and Carlos E. A. Coimbra Jr., from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro. Members of this research group first studied the Xavante in 1990 and have since published on such diverse topics such as nutrition, subsistence, demography, epidemiology of infectious and parasitic diseases, and social organization. Recently, the group has focused on the relationship between health profiles and emergent forms of socioeconomic differentiation internal to specific Xavante communities. Additionally, they have begun publishing the results of longitudinal studies that document phenomena that had not yet been evident in cross-sectional approaches. In this chapter, they illustrate these new directions with examples of recent research on dental health, demography, and nutrition transition. These examples demonstrate the interrelatedness of health and various ecological, political, economic, and sociocultural transformations of different temporal scales.


Oral Health Indigenous People Total Fertility Rate Dental Health Health Transition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter was originally presented in the “Human-Environment Interactions Workshop” organized by Emilio Moran and Eduardo Brondizio at the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, February 25–27, 2010. We thank the Xavante of Pimentel Barbosa for their continual support and interest in our research activities over the years. We also thank Luciene Souza and Rui Arantes, who came to ENSP in the 1990s to carry out graduate training in indigenous health and became close collaborators in our research group and collaborated in the case studies described in this chapter. Over the years, our research with the Xavante has been supported by the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad (DDRA) Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Ventura Santos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlos E. A. CoimbraJr.
    • 2
  • James R. Welch
    • 2
  1. 1.Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz and Departamento de Antropologia, Museu NacionalUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Escola Nacional de Saúde PúblicaFundação Oswaldo CruzRio de JaneiroBrazil

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