Imagining the Mulatta: Blackness in U.S. and Brazilian Media

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States, Women on 2020-03-10 15:06Z by Steven

Imagining the Mulatta: Blackness in U.S. and Brazilian Media

University of Illinois Press
May 2020
288 pages
9 color photographs
6 x 9 in.
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-04328-4
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-08520-8

Jasmine Mitchell, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Media Studies
State University of New York, Old Westbury

Mixed-race women and popular culture in Brazil and the United States

Brazil markets itself as a racially mixed utopia. The United States prefers the term melting pot. Both nations have long used the image of the mulatta to push skewed cultural narratives. Highlighting the prevalence of mixed race women of African and European descent, the two countries claim to have perfected racial representation—all the while ignoring the racialization, hypersexualization, and white supremacy that the mulatta narrative creates.

Jasmine Mitchell investigates the development and exploitation of the mulatta figure in Brazilian and U.S. popular culture. Drawing on a wide range of case studies, she analyzes policy debates and reveals the use of mixed-Black female celebrities as subjects of racial and gendered discussions. Mitchell also unveils the ways the media moralizes about the mulatta figure and uses her as an example of an “acceptable” version of blackness that at once dreams of erasing undesirable blackness while maintaining the qualities that serve as outlets for interracial desire.

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Fateful Triangles in Brazil: A Forum on Stuart Hall’s The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, Part II

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy on 2020-02-03 21:02Z by Steven

Fateful Triangles in Brazil: A Forum on Stuart Hall’s The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, Part II

Contexto International
Volume 41, Number 2, Rio de Janeiro (May/Aug. 2019)
pages 449-470
DOI: 10.1590/s0102-8529.2019410200012

Sharon A. Stanley, Professor of Political Science
University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

João Nackle Urt, Assistant Professor
Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD), Dourados-MS, Brazil

Thiago Braz, Ph.D. Candidate
Institute of International Relations
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Rio de Janeiro-RJ, Brazil

Stuart Hall, a founding scholar in the Birmingham School of cultural studies and eminent theorist of ethnicity, identity and difference in the African diaspora, as well as a leading analyst of the cultural politics of the Thatcher and post-Thatcher years, delivered the W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University in 1994. In the lectures, published after a nearly quarter-century delay as The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (2017), Hall advances the argument that race, at least in North Atlantic contexts, operates as a ‘sliding signifier,’ such that, even after the notion of a biological essence to race has been widely discredited, race-thinking nonetheless renews itself by essentializing other characteristics such as cultural difference. Substituting Michel Foucault’s famous power-knowledge dyad with power-knowledge-difference, Hall argues that thinking through the fateful triangle of race, ethnicity and nation shows us how discursive systems attempt to deal with human difference.

In ‘Fateful Triangles in Brazil,’ Part II of Contexto Internacional’s forum on The Fateful Triangle, three scholars work with and against Hall’s arguments from the standpoint of racial politics in Brazil. Sharon Stanley argues that Hall’s account of hybrid identity may encounter difficulties in the Brazilian context, where discourses of racial mixture have, in the name of racial democracy, supported anti-black racism. João Nackle Urt investigates the vexed histories of ‘race,’ ‘ethnicity’ and ‘nation’ in reference to indigenous peoples, particularly Brazilian Indians. Finally, Thiago Braz shows, from a perspective that draws on Afro-Brazilian thinkers, that emphasizing the contingency of becoming in the concept of diaspora may ignore the myriad ways by which Afro-diasporic Brazilians are marked as being black, and thus subject to violence and inequality.

Part I of the forum – with contributions by Donna Jones, Kevin Bruyneel and William Garcia – critically examines the promise and potential problems of Hall’s work from the context of North America and western Europe in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter and Brexit.

Read the entire article here.

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The Black Butterfly: Brazilian Slavery and the Literary Imagination

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2020-01-31 18:13Z by Steven

The Black Butterfly: Brazilian Slavery and the Literary Imagination

West Virginia University Press
October 2019
360 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-949199-03-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-949199-02-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-949199-04-8

Marcus Wood, Professor of English
University of Sussex

The Black Butterfly focuses on the slavery writings of three of Brazil’s literary giants—Machado de Assis, Castro Alves, and Euclides da Cunha. These authors wrote in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Brazil moved into and then through the 1888 abolition of slavery. Assis was Brazil’s most experimental novelist; Alves was a Romantic poet with passionate liberationist politics, popularly known as “the poet of the slaves”; and da Cunha is known for the masterpiece Os Sertões (The Backlands), a work of genius that remains strangely neglected in the scholarship of transatlantic slavery.

Wood finds that all three writers responded to the memory of slavery in ways that departed from their counterparts in Europe and North America, where emancipation has typically been depicted as a moment of closure. He ends by setting up a wider literary context for his core authors by introducing a comparative study of their great literary abolitionist predecessors Luís Gonzaga Pinto da Gama and Joaquim Nabuco. The Black Butterfly is a revolutionary text that insists Brazilian culture has always refused a clean break between slavery and its aftermath. Brazilian slavery thus emerges as a living legacy subject to continual renegotiation and reinvention.

Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Castro Alves, O Navio Negreiro, and a New Poetics of the Middle Passage
  • 2. Castro Alves, Voices of Africa, and the Paulo Affonso Falls: From African Monologic Propopeia to Brazilian Plantation Anti-Pastoral
  • 3. Obscure Agency: Machado de Assis Framing Black Servitudes
  • 4. “The child is father to the man”: Bad Big Daddy and the Dilemmas of Planter Patriarchy in Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas
  • 5. Magnifying Signifying Silence: Afro-Brazilians and Slavery in Euclides da Cunha, Os Sertões
  • 6. After-Words and After-Worlds: Freyre, Llosa, Slavery and the Cultural Inheritance of Os Sertões
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index
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The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Europe, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Oceania, Social Science, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2020-01-31 02:28Z by Steven

The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification

Palgrave Macmillan
2020-01-21
817 pages
16 b/w illustrations, 17 illustrations in colour
Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-22873-6
eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-22874-3
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-22874-3

Edited by:

Zarine L. Rocha, Managing Editor
Current Sociology and Asian Journal of Social Science

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader in Population Health
University of Kent, United Kingdom

Highlights

  • Shows how classification and collection processes around mixedness differ between countries and how measurement has been changing over time
  • Provides a window into the radical global changes in the trend towards multiple racial/ethnic self-identification that has been a feature of the recent past
  • The first and only handbook to directly address the classification of mixed race/ethnicity on a global scale
  • Pays specific attention to both the standard classifications and the range of uses these are put to – including social surveys and administrative data – rather than just census forms and data

This handbook provides a global study of the classification of mixed race and ethnicity at the state level, bringing together a diverse range of country case studies from around the world.

The classification of race and ethnicity by the state is a common way to organize and make sense of populations in many countries, from the national census and birth and death records, to identity cards and household surveys. As populations have grown, diversified, and become increasingly transnational and mobile, single and mutually exclusive categories struggle to adequately capture the complexity of identities and heritages in multicultural societies. State motivations for classification vary widely, and have shifted over time, ranging from subjugation and exclusion to remediation and addressing inequalities. The chapters in this handbook illustrate how differing histories and contemporary realities have led states to count and classify mixedness in different ways, for different reasons.

This collection will serve as a key reference point on the international classification of mixed race and ethnicity for students and scholars across sociology, ethnic and racial studies, and public policy, as well as policy makers and practitioners.

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Introduction: Measuring Mixedness Around the World / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
  • Race and Ethnicity Classification in British Colonial and Early Commonwealth Censuses / Anthony J. Christopher
  • The Americas
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: North and South America / Peter J. Aspinall, Zarine L. Rocha
    • The Canadian Census and Mixed Race: Tracking Mixed Race Through Ancestry, Visible Minority Status, and Métis Population Groups in Canada / Danielle Kwan-Lafond, Shannon Winterstein
    • Methods of Measuring Multiracial Americans / Melissa R. Herman
    • Mixed Race in Brazil: Classification, Quantification, and Identification / G. Reginald Daniel, Rafael J. Hernández
    • Mexico: Creating Mixed Ethnicity Citizens for the Mestizo Nation / Pablo Mateos
    • Boundless Heterogeneity: ‘Callaloo’ Complexity and the Measurement of Mixedness in Trinidad and Tobago / Sue Ann Barratt
    • Mixed race in Argentina: Concealing Mixture in the ‘White’ Nation / Lea Natalia Geler, Mariela Eva Rodríguez
    • Colombia: The Meaning and Measuring of Mixedness / Peter Wade
  • Europe and the UK
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: Europe and the United Kingdom / Peter J. Aspinall, Zarine L. Rocha
    • The Path to Official Recognition of ‘Mixedness’ in the United Kingdom / Peter J. Aspinall
    • Measuring Mixedness in Ireland: Constructing Sameness and Difference / Elaine Moriarty
    • The Identification of Mixed People in France: National Myth and Recognition of Family Migration Paths / Anne Unterreiner
    • Controversial Approaches to Measuring Mixed-Race in Belgium: The (In)Visibility of the Mixed-Race Population / Laura Odasso
    • The Weight of German History: Racial Blindness and Identification of People with a Migration Background / Anne Unterreiner
    • Mixed, Merged, and Split Ethnic Identities in the Russian Federation / Sergei V. Sokolovskiy
    • Mixedness as a Non-Existent Category in Slovenia / Mateja Sedmak
    • Mixed Identities in Italy: A Country in Denial / Angelica Pesarini, Guido Tintori
    • (Not) Measuring Mixedness in the Netherlands / Guno Jones, Betty de Hart
    • Mixed Race and Ethnicity in Sweden: A Sociological Analysis / Ioanna Blasko, Nikolay Zakharov
  • Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia and the Caucasus
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia and the Caucasus / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
    • The Classification of South Africa’s Mixed-Heritage Peoples 1910–2011: A Century of Conflation, Contradiction, Containment, and Contention / George T. H. Ellison, Thea de Wet
    • The Immeasurability of Racial and Mixed Identity in Mauritius / Rosabelle Boswell
    • Neither/Nor: The Complex Attachments of Zimbabwe’s Coloureds / Kelly M. Nims
    • Measuring Mixedness in Zambia: Creating and Erasing Coloureds in Zambia’s Colonial and Post-colonial Census, 1921 to 2010 / Juliette Milner-Thornton
    • Racial and Ethnic Mobilization and Classification in Kenya / Babere Kerata Chacha, Wanjiku Chiuri, Kenneth O. Nyangena
    • Making the Invisible Visible: Experiences of Mixedness for Binational People in Morocco / Gwendolyn Gilliéron
    • Measuring Mixedness: A Case Study of the Kyrgyz Republic / Asel Myrzabekova
  • Asia and the Pacific
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: The Asia Pacific Region / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
    • Where You Feel You Belong: Classifying Ethnicity and Mixedness in New Zealand / Robert Didham, Zarine L. Rocha
    • Measuring Mixedness in Australia / Farida Fozdar, Catriona Stevens
    • Measuring Race, Mixed Race, and Multiracialism in Singapore / Zarine L. Rocha, Brenda S. A. Yeoh
    • Multiracial in Malaysia: Categories, Classification, and Campur in Contemporary Everyday Life / Geetha Reddy, Hema Preya Selvanathan
    • Anglo-Indians in Colonial India: Historical Demography, Categorization, and Identity / Uther Charlton-Stevens
    • Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification in the Philippines / Megumi HaraJocelyn O. Celero
    • Vaevaeina o le toloa (Counting the Toloa): Counting Mixed Ethnicity in the Pacific, 1975–2014 / Patrick Broman, Polly Atatoa Carr, Byron Malaela Sotiata Seiuli
    • Measuring Mixed Race: ‘We the Half-Castes of Papua and New Guinea’ / Kirsten McGavin
    • Measuring Mixedness in China: A Study in Four Parts / Cathryn H. Clayton
    • Belonging Across Religion, Race, and Nation in Burma-Myanmar / Chie Ikeya
    • Recognition of Multiracial and Multiethnic Japanese: Historical Trends, Classification, and Ways Forward / Sayaka Osanami Törngren, Hyoue Okamura
  • Back Matter
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Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2020-01-10 00:56Z by Steven

Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Race Talk
2020-01-08

David Morse, Host

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

 Artwork for Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Dr. Chinyere Osuji discusses her book, “Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race“. It’s an amazing work of scholarship rooted in comparing and contrasting black/white marriages in Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles.

Listen to the podcast (00:40:33) here.

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Context-dependence of race self-classification: Results from a highly mixed and unequal middle-income country

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2019-10-19 03:08Z by Steven

Context-dependence of race self-classification: Results from a highly mixed and unequal middle-income country

PLOS ONE
2019-05-16
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216653

Dóra Chor
Department of Epidemiology and Quantitative Methods
National School of Public Health
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Alexandre Pereira
Laboratory of Genetics and Molecular Cardiology, Heart Institute (InCor)
University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Antonio G. Pacheco
Scientific Computing Program
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil

Ricardo V. Santos
Department of Epidemiology and Quantitative Methods
National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Department of Anthropology, Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil

Maria J. M. Fonseca
Department of Epidemiology and Quantitative Methods
National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Maria I. Schmidt
Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, School of Medicine
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS Brazil

Bruce B. Duncan
Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, School of Medicine
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS Brazil

Sandhi M. Barreto, Faculty of Medicine & Clinical Hospital
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil

Estela M. L. Aquino
Institute of Collective Health
Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, BA Brazil

José G. Mill
Department of Physiological Sciences
Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitória, ES Brazil

Maria delCB Molina
Department of Physiological Science
Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitória, ES Brazil

Luana Giatti, Faculty of Medicine & Clinical Hospital
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil

Maria daCC Almeida
Gonçalo Muniz Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Salvador, BA Brazil

Isabela Bensenor
Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research, University Hospital
University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP Brazil

Paulo A. Lotufo
Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research
University Hospital, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP Brazil

Ethnic-racial classification criteria are widely recognized to vary according to historical, cultural and political contexts. In Brazil, the strong influence of individual socio-economic factors on race/colour self-classification is well known. With the expansion of genomic technologies, the use of genomic ancestry has been suggested as a substitute for classification procedures such as self-declaring race, as if they represented the same concept. We investigated the association between genomic ancestry, the racial composition of census tracts and individual socioeconomic factors and self-declared race/colour in a cohort of 15,105 Brazilians. Results show that the probability of self-declaring as black or brown increases according to the proportion of African ancestry and varies widely among cities. In Porto Alegre, where most of the population is white, with every 10% increase in the proportion of African ancestry, the odds of self-declaring as black increased 14 times (95%CI 6.08–32.81). In Salvador, where most of the population is black or brown, that increase was of 3.98 times (95%CI 2.96–5.35). The racial composition of the area of residence was also associated with the probability of self-declaring as black or brown. Every 10% increase in the proportion of black and brown inhabitants in the residential census tract increased the odds of self-declaring as black by 1.33 times (95%CI 1.24–1.42). Ancestry alone does not explain self-declared race/colour. An emphasis on multiple situational contexts (both individual and collective) provides a more comprehensive framework for the study of the predictors of self-declared race/colour, a highly relevant construct in many different scenarios, such as public policy, sociology and medicine.

Read the entire article here.

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How States Make Race: New Evidence from Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2019-10-19 02:42Z by Steven

How States Make Race: New Evidence from BrazilHow States Make Race: New Evidence from Brazil

Sociological Science
Volume 5, (2018-11-26)
pages 722-751
DOI: 10.15195/v5.a31

Stanley R. Bailey, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

Fabrício M. Fialho, Postdoctoral Researcher
Centre de Recherches Internationales, Sciences Po Paris, France

Mara Loveman, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley

Sociological Science

The Brazilian state recently adopted unprecedented race-targeted affirmative action in government hiring and university admissions. Scholarship would predict the state’s institutionalization of racial categories has “race-making” effects. In this article, we ask whether the Brazilian state’s policy turnabout has affected racial subjectivities on the ground, specifically toward mirroring the categories used by the state. To answer, we conceptualize race as multidimensional and leverage two of its dimensions—lay identification and government classification (via open-ended and closed-ended questions, respectively)—to introduce a new metric of state race-making: a comparison of the extent of alignment between lay and government dimensions across time. Logistic regression on large-sample survey data from before the policy turn (1995) and well after its diffusion (2008) reveals an increased use of state categories as respondents’ lay identification in the direction of matching respondents’ government classification. We conclude that the Brazilian state is making race but not from scratch nor in ways that are fully intended.

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Intermarriage in the Americas

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-10-19 02:25Z by Steven

Racial Intermarriage in the Americas

Sociological Science
Volume 6, (2019-04-23)
pages 293-320
DOI: 10.15195/v6.a12

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Albert Esteve, Director and Adjunct Professor (Department of Geography)
Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Sociological Science

We compare intermarriage in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States among the black, white, and mixed-race population using log-linear models with data from newly available anonymized and harmonized individual census microdata for the 2000 round of censuses. We find that black–white intermarriage is 105 times as likely in Brazil and 28 times as likely in Cuba compared to the United States; that Brazilian mulatos are four times as likely to marry whites than blacks, but Cuban mulatos are equally likely to marry whites and blacks; and negative educational gradients for black–white intermarriage for Cuba and Brazil but nonexistent or positive gradients in the United States. We propose a theory of intergenerational mixture and intermarriage and discuss implications for the role of preferences versus structure, universalism and education, and mulato escape-hatch theory.

Read the entire article here.

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Freedom and Frustration: Rachel Dolezal and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-08-18 22:12Z by Steven

Freedom and Frustration: Rachel Dolezal and the Meaning of Race

Contexts
Volume: 18 issue: 3
pages 36-41
DOI: 10.1177/1536504219864957

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In the United States, people often discuss how the burgeoning multi-racial population and immigrants from Asia and Latin America are forcing us to call into question what we know about racial and ethnic categories. This argument, however, takes for granted that being Black or White, categories at the poles, are unproblematic distinctions. This perspective essentializes Blackness and Whiteness as commonsense phenomena. They are anything but. The meanings of who is White and who is Black in the United States have shifted over centuries, and who gets slotted into what category changes across societies.

A couple of years ago, the media became fascinated with Rachel Dolezal, a woman born naturally to White parents, who identified as a Black woman. At a time when transgender issues were becoming salient, news media posed what seemed to them an obvious question: is it possible to be born White and become Black the same way it was possible to be born with male sex organs and become female? Although Dolezal never used the term “transracial” to identify herself, she reminded us that race is a social construction, something many people understand as fake and baseless. On these grounds, Dolezal decided that she would wear Black hairstyles, spend time in Black communities, date and marry Black men, lead a chapter of a historically Black organization, and supposedly leave Whiteness behind. This infuriated many people, especially African Americans.

When Rachel Dolezal made international news, my friends in Brazil did not understand the commotion. “What’s going on? Who is this woman?” they asked.

I understood some of their confusion…

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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In Brazil, a New Rendering of a Literary Giant Makes Waves

Posted in Articles, Biography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism on 2019-07-16 01:44Z by Steven

In Brazil, a New Rendering of a Literary Giant Makes Waves

The New York Times
2019-06-14

Shannon Sims

A widely known image of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, left, that appears on his books, compared with the one that has gone viral on Brazilian social media in recent months, right.
A widely known image of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, left, that appears on his books, compared with the one that has gone viral on Brazilian social media in recent months, right.
Left: Academia Brasileira de Letras

Machado de Assis Real, developed by a Brazilian university and an ad agency, shows the 19th-century writer in color, challenging some long-held ideas about him in the process.

RECIFE, Brazil — Throughout elementary and middle school, Ricardo Pavan Martins remembers reading Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, one of Brazil’s most famous writers.

So the 29-year-old, who lives in Bauru, was shocked to see a new image of Machado that has gone viral in the country. It shows him with chocolate-brown skin, considerably darker than how he appears in the black-and-white photograph that appears on virtually all of his books and hangs prominently in the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

“I always imagined him as white because this is the default image of most writers,” Martins said. “I am certain that if the skin color of an author so important was at the very least discussed during my experience at school, my black friends would have felt more represented.”

Among Brazilian writers, Machado, who lived from 1839 to 1908, inhabits a unique position. “Dom Casmurro,” his 1899 masterpiece about cuckoldry and jealousy, is required reading at some schools around the country. His name has been lent to streets and subway stops across Brazil. Susan Sontag called him “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America,” and others have compared him to Flaubert, Kafka, Henry James and Alice Munro.

[“The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis,” one of the Times critics’ top books of 2018, “reveals the arc of Machado’s career, from the straightforward love stories to the cerebral and unpredictable later works.” ]

The traditional historical photo of him shows a man whose skin is nearly as light as his crisp white dress shirt. But a new project, developed by the São Paulo office of the advertising agency Grey and São Paulo’s University Zumbi dos Palmares, a predominantly black university, re-creates that photo in a way that the project’s leaders say more accurately reflects what Machado looked like.

Machado was known to be the descendant of freed slaves, but the new rendering, which shows him as a black man, has shaken Brazilians, prompting some to reconsider how they previously read his work and angering others who feel his legacy had been whitewashed…

…It isn’t clear how or why Machado’s image was lightened. Machado scholars like G. Reginald Daniel, a sociology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said that in 19th-century Brazil, Machado’s publishers “would have totally wanted him white to sell. For people to see this great author as of African descent would have been very troubling for many.”…

“He was celebrated during a period of Brazilian society where to be recognized and valued you had to be white,” Matos said. “He would have never been taken seriously, and never achieved commercial success, if people had known his true racial identity. He would have been a failure if he had been known as black.”

But some of those most familiar with Machado’s life are ambivalent about the push to identify him as black. Daniel, who wrote a book exploring Machado’s mixed-race identity, said that while he commended the efforts to “re-racialize” him, “the real Machado de Assis was not a black man but mixed. Portraying him otherwise misses the duality and in-between experience he had as a biracial man.”…

Read entire article here.

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