There are still very few anthropological studies on the military institution. Among the authors or books considered classics of the discipline, present on the syllabus of the mandatory courses, none of them approach the professional military as a subject of investigation. Only in the last decades have anthropologists begun, although in small numbers, to study the military. In Brazil, during the past two decades, about ten researchers have done fieldwork in the Armed Forces using participating observation, a classical method of ethnographic research since its relevance was established in the beginning of the twentieth century by “founding-fathers” of modern anthropology such as Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski. This chapter is based on personal accounts made by these researchers (assembled in the book “Antropologia dos militares” [Anthropology of the Military], Castro and Leirner [2009]) and focuses on some of the central issues of their experiences: the researcher’s entry in the field; patterns of interaction with the “natives”; the way hierarchy and discipline – two pillars of the military institution – affect the course of the research; gender-related dynamics; and issues related to the publishing of the researcher’s results. This research was conducted in the last two decades, a period of renewed interest in the comprehension of the “military world” in Brazil. Before this, the majority of the work produced in the fields of Social Science and History focused on military interventions in politics (especially through insurrectional movements or coups d’état) or on the transition from the 21-year-long military regime the country lived under between 1964 and 1985 (with emphasis on the analysis of the military subordination to civil power). The reason for the pre-eminence of the approaches centred on the political dimension is easily explained. Since the establishment of the Republic in Brazil by a military coup in 1889, the military was, throughout a century, a fundamental actor in Brazilian history, promoting several other coups and interventions, although power was quickly restored to the civilians. The exception to this pattern was the direct exercise of political power between 1964 and 1985, when Brazil was successively governed by five general-presidents. Beginning in 1985, with the transition to a civil

government, the process of re-democratization and the birth of the “New Republic,” the military gradually lost political importance in Brazil. It is important to point out that, in the last quarter of the century, it never posed a significant threat to democracy. The experience of the military regime, however, left marks on Brazilian society, including upon the intellectuals, who were strongly affected by authoritarian acts.2