Antonio de Almeida
Sezures, Penalva do Castelo, Viseu, Portogallo, 21/8/1900 - Lisbona, Portogallo, 17/11/1984
Titolo Professore di Antropologia, Università di Lisbona, Portogallo
Laureatosi in medicina, fu medico scolastico e professore presso la Scuola Normale (Pedro Nunes). Dopo gli studi post-laurea presso la Scuola di Medicina Tropicale e la Scuola Superiore Coloniale, vinse nel 1934 una borsa di studio del Consiglio Nazionale per l'Istruzione. Nel 1935 iniziò a insegnare Etnologia ed etnografia coloniale presso la Scuola Superiore Coloniale (l'odierno Istituto di Scienze Politiche e Sociali). Le sue indagini antropologiche ebbero inizio nel 1934, in Angola, dove si recò anche tra il 1948 e il 1950, quando assunse la direzione della Missione Antropologica. Successivamente portò avanti altre due campagne nel 1952 e nel 1955. I suoi studi antropologici coinvolsero anche altre ex colonie portoghesi, come ad esempio la Guinea (1959 e 1962), Capo Verde (1962), S. Tomé e Principe (1954), il Mozambico (1959), l'India portoghese (1960 e 1961), Macao (1966) e Timor. Fu membro del Consiglio delle missioni e delle ricerca geografiche d'oltremare e Direttore del Centro Studi di Etnologia. Tra il 1938 e il 1957 fu deputato dell'Assemblea Nazionale. Insegnò Etnologia delle colonie portoghesi d'oltremare e Antropobiologia presso l'Istituto Superiore di Scienze Sociali e delle Politiche d'Oltremare fino al 1970.
Commemoration – Antonio de Almeida was an eminent anthropologist and ethnologist, born in 1900 in Vizeu, Portugal.Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Lisbon, he became very early an anatomist, studying under Professor Mendes Correia, who was to precede him as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. From anatomy Almeida drifted to anthropology. As Professor of Anthropology and Ethnology, Antonio de Almeida refused to remain secluded in the rigid walls of his study and classroom, and extended his zeal and vision to the field where he spent part of his life.
Overcoming the difficult conditions of living in the hinterlands of Africa, he mixed with the natives, living their lives and winning their confidence, which allowed him to undertake experiments and grasp the dominant traits of their culture. From 1934 to 1975 he travelled extensively throughout the Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia, Angola, Timor, Goa and Macau among others. Mozambique and the islands of Cabo Verde were also visited in his scientific travels. In Angola, he studied the yellow and red bushmen, the Hottentots and Kwadis, together with 55 tribes of the Bantus. The biometric data accumulated by him surpasses 50,000 in number, and blood sampling corresponds to over 10,000 blood group typings and more than 7,000 Rh factor determinations.
In Timor, de Almeida, following the work done in Angola, and using the same methods, obtained biometric data on thousands of natives of various ethno-linguistic groups. He also studied the blood groups and the Rh factor of about 9,000 individuals. The conclusions of his work put him in the first line of those who occupy themselves with human geographic biology.
During his voyages, Almeida, a tremendous worker, also obtained cultural data, enabling him to establish the specificity of the different tribal cultures. His work destroyed many taboos established by less diligent researchers. He thus showed, for instance, that many corporal deformations considered to be of genetic origin were in fact due to cultural tradition.
His work was also extended to the discovery of more than 600 archeological sites, and most of his scientific data and thousands of photographs were documented by black and white movie films.
All this is presented in more than 200 scientific papers, plus many articles in daily newspapers and scientific books. Almeida was a pioneer in his country, but in the field of physical anthropology he brought to it the contribution of other disciplines, showing that biometric measures should be complemented by biological data.