Writer Ailton Krenak was elected this Thursday (5) to the Brazilian Academy of Letters and became the first indigenous person to occupy a chair at the century-old institution.
He was a favorite since he launched his candidacy in August, but was threatened in the race by historian Mary Del Priore and fellow indigenous leader Daniel Munduruku.
In the end, he obtained 23 votes among academics, against 12 for Del Priore and four for Munduruku.
There were 12 other candidates for the highly contested seat number 5, previously occupied by historian José Murilo de Carvalho, who died in August at the age of 83, but none of them had a chance other than these three.
Krenak catapulted his recognition as an intellectual, in recent years, through the trilogy composed of "Ideas to Postpone the End of the World", "Life Is Not Useful" and "Ancestral Future", which present his thoughts in an accessible way, adapted from lectures and short texts, and contributed to popularizing indigenous cosmogonies throughout the country.
But the work of the activist, who has just turned 70 years old, goes back decades and includes decisive participation in the Constituent Assembly, in 1987, when he represented the Union of Indigenous Nations and collaborated to incorporate demands of the original peoples in the Charter promulgated in the next year.
It is not new that there is a claim for the presence of indigenous leadership in the institution founded by Machado de Assis and Rui Barbosa at the end of the 19th century.
The ABL ( Brazilian Academy of Letters) has been groping towards greater representation, by electing people such as Gilberto Gil (singer) and Fernanda Montenegro (actress), popular stars who expanded the notion of intellectuality embraced by the institution.
There have also been timid advances regarding the presence of women and black people at the Academy, which is still sparse. Besides Gil, the only other black person in the house of Machado de Assis is the academic Domício Proença Filho. Now, Krenak is reinforcing the place's racial diversity.
Translated by Cassy Dias