Kenneth Westhues

University of Waterloo Gazette, 17 November 1999. Published on the web in 2003 in the Tributes section of the K. Westhues Homepage. Dr. Costa-Pinto died in 2002, and was buried in his native Bahia.

For Luiz A. Costa-Pinto, who retired from UW's Department of Sociology in 1985, recent years have been the worst and best of times. On the one hand, he has been in frail health, and spent weeks last summer in Grand River Hospital. On the other hand, he has been honoured in his native country in ways most professors only dream of.

The crowning glory has been publication this fall of a collection of essays on his work by leading members of the younger generation of Brazilian sociologists. Entitled Ideas of Modernity and Sociology in Brazil, the book is published by the press of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. The eighteen chapters are from a larger symposium on Costa-Pinto's scholarship held at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in May of 1998.

The book also includes Costa-Pinto's own essay on the postmodern world, written for the fiftieth anniversary congress of the International Sociological Association in Montreal in 1998. Costa-Pinto was honored there as a founder of the association in a session organized by another former UW professor, Dr. Susan A. McDaniel, who is now the editor of the association's journal, Current Sociology.

Essays in the new Festschrift focus mainly on Costa-Pinto's contributions to the philosophy and methodology of social science, but also on his substantive research on social change, education, and race relations. A new edition of his 1958 study of the development of a capitalist economy in Reconcavo, the capital region of the state of Bahia, was published in 1997.

Among other honors accorded Dr. Costa-Pinto since his retirement from UW are the title of Emeritus from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1989, and an Honourary Professorship from the Federal University of Bahia in 1997. He also holds an Honourary Professorship from Trent University in Ontario.

Dr. Costa-Pinto left Brazil in protest of the military regimes that held power there in the late 1960s. He came to Canada in 1973, teaching at Simon Fraser and Queens before joining the UW faculty in 1976. Following his retirement from UW, he taught part-time for a further three years in the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto.

Along with Ashley Montagu and Franklin Frazier from the USA, Claude Levi-Strauss from France, and Morris Ginsberg from Britain, Costa-Pinto co-authored the United Nations' 1950 Statement on Race, a classic critique of the attribution of differences in IQ to genetic inheritance. "The one trait," the authors wrote, "which above all others has been at a premium in the evolution of men's mental characters has been educability, plasticity."