Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-29 03:59Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

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Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-11-20 04:28Z by Steven

Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897

University of California Press
December 1995
365 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520203433

Robert M. Levine (1941-2003), Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies
University of Miami

The massacre of Canudos In 1897 is a pivotal episode in Brazilian social history. Looking at the event through the eyes of the inhabitants, Levine challenges traditional interpretations and gives weight to the fact that most of the Canudenses were of mixed-raced descent and were thus perceived as opponents to progress and civilization.

In 1897 Brazilian military forces destroyed the millenarian settlement of Canudos, murdering as many as 35,000 pious rural folk who had taken refuge in the remote northeast backlands of Brazil. Fictionalized in Mario Vargas Llosa’s acclaimed novel, War at the End of the World, Canudos is a pivotal episode in Brazilian social history. When looked at through the eyes of the inhabitants of Canudos, however, this historical incident lends itself to a bold new interpretation which challenges the traditional polemics on the subject. While the Canudos movement has been consistently viewed either as a rebellion of crazed fanatics or as a model of proletarian resistance to oppression, Levine deftly demonstrates that it was, in fact, neither.

Vale of Tears probes the reasons for the Brazilian ambivalence toward its social history, giving much weight to the fact that most of the Canudenses were of mixed-race descent. They were perceived as opponents to progress and civilization and, by inference, to Brazil’s attempts to “whiten” itself. As a result there are major insights to be found here into Brazilians’ self-image over the past century.

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Jennifer Roth-Gordon on her new book, Race and the Brazilian Body

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews on 2017-11-13 00:52Z by Steven

Jennifer Roth-Gordon on her new book, Race and the Brazilian Body

CaMP Anthropology
2017-09-04

Interview by: Ilana Gershon, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Indiana University, Bloomington

Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

If you were at a wedding, and the person at your table happened to be a scholar of African-American experiences of the Jim Crow South who wanted to know a bit about your book, what would you say?

Can the person sitting next to the Jim Crow scholar at our table be someone who witnessed the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville? I think I might open by saying to them that I study race relations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a context which is both very similar and very different from the ones that they are immersed in. My book is an investigation into how we can watch people draw on and perpetuate racial hierarchy in daily conversations and interactions, in a national context where noticing racial difference is (and has long been) taboo. These racial ideas – about the superiority of whiteness and the inferiority of blackness – are the same ideas that were legalized in the Jim Crow South and that white people marched to uphold just a few weeks ago, in defense of statues meant to keep nonwhite people “in their place.” I can point to very little that changes, over time or across national boundaries, in the civilized/uncivilized and upstanding/dangerous distinctions between what whiteness and nonwhiteness are thought to represent.

Brazil also suffers from incredibly high levels of structural racism that almost always exceed statistics from the present-day U.S. (from racial gaps in education levels, income, and where people live, to what scholars have called a black genocide of thousands of Afro-descended youth killed by police each year). Despite these national similarities, Brazil has long used incidents like Charlottesville (such as the Civil War, lynchings, the LA riots and Rodney King beating, Ferguson, and so on) to define themselves in contrast to the violent history and aggressive nature of race relations in the U.S. Though they are now more aware of racism than ever before, many Brazilians continue to take pride in their reputation for racial mixture and racial tolerance. While most would admit that Brazil is not (and has never been) a “racial democracy,” there is a strong belief that inequality in Brazil is socioeconomic, rather than racial.

My book seeks to explain the “comfortable racial contradiction” that surrounds Rio residents with signs of blackness and whiteness but discourages them from describing what they see in racial terms. It’s not a contradiction that is “comfortable” for all, but I argue that this contradiction is surprisingly easy to live within, even as it may be hard to unravel and explain – in the same way that we now have to contemplate what it means to live in a “colorblind” America that has people on both ends of the political spectrum loudly proclaiming that race matters. I study how racial ideology allows us to live in societies that promote themselves as tolerant and equal, even as we are daily surrounded by (and participating in) profoundly racially unequal and unjust circumstances. Laws and torches are not the only ways to maintain white supremacy, and swastika-flag bearers are not the only ones who keep systems of racial hierarchy in place…

Read the entire interview here.

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Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-11-12 23:03Z by Steven

Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

University of North Carolina Press
December 2016
248 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520293793
Paperback ISBN: 9780520293809
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520967151
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520967151

Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Arizona

Based on spontaneous conversations of shantytown youth hanging out on the streets of their neighborhoods and interviews from the comfortable living rooms of the middle class, Jennifer Roth-Gordon shows how racial ideas permeate the daily lives of Rio de Janeiro’s residents across race and class lines. Race and the Brazilian Body weaves together the experiences of these two groups to explore what the author calls Brazil’s “comfortable racial contradiction,” where embedded structural racism that privileges whiteness exists alongside a deeply held pride in the country’s history of racial mixture and lack of overt racial conflict. This linguistic and ethnographic account describes how cariocas (people who live in Rio de Janeiro) “read” the body for racial signs. The amount of whiteness or blackness a body displays is determined not only through observations of phenotypical features—including skin color, hair texture, and facial features—but also through careful attention paid to cultural and linguistic practices, including the use of nonstandard speech commonly described as gíria (slang).

Vivid scenes from daily interactions illustrate how implicit social and racial imperatives encourage individuals to invest in and display whiteness (by demonstrating a “good appearance”), avoid blackness (a preference challenged by rappers and hip-hop fans), and “be cordial” (by not noticing racial differences). Roth-Gordon suggests that it is through this unspoken racial etiquette that Rio residents determine who belongs on the world famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon; who deserves to shop in privatized, carefully guarded, air conditioned shopping malls; and who merits the rights of citizenship.

Contents

  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 1. BRAZIL’S “COMFORTABLE RACIAL CONTRADICTION”
  • 2. “GOOD” APPEARANCES: RACE, LANGUAGE, AND CITIZENSHIP
  • 3. INVESTING IN WHITENESS: MIDDLE-CLASS PRACTICES OF LINGUISTIC DISCIPLINE
  • 4. FEARS OF RACIAL CONTACT: CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THE STRUGGLE OVER URBAN SPACE
  • 5. AVOIDING BLACKNESS: THE FLIP SIDE OF BOA APARENCIA
  • 6. MAKING THE MANO: THE UNCOMFORTABLE VISIBILITY OF BLACKNESS IN POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS BRAZILIAN HIP-HOP
  • CONCLUSION: “SEEING” RACE
  • NOTES
  • REFERENCES
  • INDEX
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On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2017-11-12 17:35Z by Steven

On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

For Harriet
2015-07-23

Veronica Maria Brown-Comegys

The day I arrived in Rio de Janeiro a muscle-bound German stranger followed me from the reception desk into the hotel elevator. After the door closed, he began shouting in halting English, “You are American. I want to be with you tonight, why not?” “Why not?” I side-stepped to the elevator panel and wildly pounded the buttons. The door opened and I raced to my room.

White Brazilian and European male visitors gravitate to the eroticism of the woman of African descent. Yet they do not express their admiration in romantic sonnets and songs. Instead, white Brazilian men say in Portuguese, “As negras tem fogo no rabo.” The translation is, “Black women have fire in their ass,” according to my white friend, Carlos Marques, a fifty-six-year-old activist and historian. The activist, of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul, said, “Rabo is a VERY bad expression, extremely graphic. It is machismo and racism.” Cesar Renato, 19, a black aspiring rapper, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, added, “They say worse things than that.”

Carlos Santos, 30, of Goias, a black decorator and house painter said, “It is true that the white man says the black woman has an appetite for sex, and is hotter than the white woman. I agree that black women are hotter. This is obvious. But, oh no, to say they have fire under their skirt, this is too much. This is hyper-sexualization of the black woman.”

The crude expression is directed at all black women. Yet it is the black woman who has tan, gold, caramel and light-to-nearly medium colored skin, who is preferred. Marques said, “Light-colored girls are a species of sexual fantasy for many men, Brazilian and foreign. They are something like a sexual fetish.”.

Dr. Norma Cavalcanti, a white psychologist, said “In Brazil a woman has only two rights; the right to be a mother, and the right to be a ‘boneca gloriosa’ (glorious doll).” Willing or not, I had all the necessary attributes to play this role: light brown skin, heavy-lidded, big brown eyes, full lips, and most importantly a five foot seven-inch body, which was far from thin and shapeless. Far from being a brown Playboy centerfold, but not to be ignored…

…During the 2014 World Cup Season male and female journalists were distained “international gringos who come to Brazil with the wrong idea.” Carol Apaloo, an African-American school teacher, whose family relocated from Los Angeles in the late 1970s said, “The Germans are the worst.” She discussed the lewd way they were dancing with the black Brazilian girls at Carnival. One journalist said that the foreigners are only part of the problem. Their behavior matched customary treatment black women receive from white Brazilian men.

Marly Ferreira, 57, a black Brazilian writer and Professor of Biology said, “The image still exists of the black woman as sexy, good in bed, to be used as an object. This image is a benefit to tourism. There are many schemes to make the color black agreeable, to be used by everybody.” More than two decades ago, white historian, sociologist and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre said, “The mulata is treated like a product. Our mulata is not different from other women, but she is being exploited as a sex symbol, and the majority are being turned into prostitutes.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Black, white or multicultural: constructing race in two countries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-09-20 21:25Z by Steven

Black, white or multicultural: constructing race in two countries

The University of Utah News
2017-09-18

New study compares how people in U.S. and Brazil determine someone’s race

A new study demonstrates the strong influence ancestry plays in Americans’ interpretation of whether someone is black, white or multiracial, highlighting differences in the way race is socially constructed in the U.S. compared to other parts of the world.

The three-phase study, led by Jacqueline M. Chen of the University of Utah and published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, compared how Brazilians and Americans assessed the race of another person. Brazilians were more likely to decide what race a person was based on his or her appearance, while Americans relied most heavily on parentage to make that determination.

“Our results speak to completely different definitions of what race is and whether ancestry or family background is even relevant to race,” said Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. “It is ingrained in Americans to think about race in terms of heritage. In the U.S., people ask about where your family is from as a way to ascertain your race. But in Brazil, people don’t focus on family history when determining someone’s race.”

Co-authors of the study are Maria Clara P. de Paula Cuoto of the Ayrton Senna Institute in São Paulo, Brazil (her involvement in the study is not related to her work at the institute); Airi M. Sacco of the Federal University of Pelotas, Pelatos, Brazil; and Yarrow Dunham of Yale University.

The researchers conducted three different experiments in the U.S. and Brazil to assess cultural differences in how participants determined race. Both countries have a history of European settlement, Native American displacement and African slavery, but have adopted different strategies and practices to address racial diversity, the researchers said.

The U.S. historically attempted to maintain racial hierarchy through formal rules that denied rights and resources to African Americans. Brazil encouraged interracial marriage as a way for individuals to move up the social hierarchy and to reduce the number of people who strongly self-identified as black…

Read the entire article here.

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To Be or Not to Be (Black or Multiracial or White): Cultural Variation in Racial Boundaries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-09-20 15:33Z by Steven

To Be or Not to Be (Black or Multiracial or White): Cultural Variation in Racial Boundaries

Social Psychological and Personality Science
First Published 2017-08-28
DOI: 10.1177/1948550617725149

Jacqueline M. Chen, Assistant Professor, Social Psychology
University of Utah

Maria Clara P. de Paula Couto
Ayrton Senna Institute, São Paulo, Brazil

Airi M. Sacco
Department of Psychology
Federal University of Pelotas, Pelatos, Brazil

Yarrow Dunham, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Yale University

Culture shapes the meaning of race and, consequently, who is placed into which racial categories. Three experiments conducted in the United States and Brazil illustrated the cultural nature of racial categorization. In Experiment 1, a target’s racial ancestry influenced Americans’ categorizations but had no impact on Brazilians’ categorizations. Experiment 2 showed cultural differences in the reliance on two phenotypic cues to race; Brazilians’ categorizations were more strongly determined by skin tone than were Americans’ categorizations, and Americans’ categorizations were more strongly determined by other facial features compared to Brazilians’ categorizations. Experiment 3 demonstrated cultural differences in the motivated use of racial categories. When the racial hierarchy was threatened, only Americans more strictly enforced the Black–White racial boundary. Cultural forces shape the conceptual, perceptual, and ideological construal of racial categories.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Brazil In Black And White

Posted in Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2017-08-27 02:31Z by Steven

Brazil In Black And White

Rough Translation
National Public Radio
2017-08-14

Two radically different ways of seeing race come into sudden conflict in Brazil, provoking a national conversation about who is Black? And who is not Black enough?

Listen to the podcast (00:32:23) here. Download the podcast here.

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Not There Yet

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2017-08-10 01:21Z by Steven

Not There Yet

Fordham Law News: From New York City To You
2017-05-24

A conversation with six Fordham Law professors about civil rights.

While it has been more than 50 years since the last Civil Rights Act was passed, the United States still has work to do to fully realize the equality of all persons. To plot where we are on the long road of civil rights, Fordham Lawyer spoke with six professors: Elizabeth Cooper, Tanya Hernández, Leah Hill, Joseph Landau, Robin Lenhardt, and Kimani Paul-Emile.

How does the United States measure up against Latin American countries with our same history of slavery and racial inequality?

Hernández: It’s somewhat of a mixed bag in Latin America. There are examples of very impoverished understandings of race—a sort of denial that there is any problem with racism because of the extant mythology across the region that perpetuates the idea that racial mixture equals racial harmony. At the same time, there’s a lot of social justice activism on the part of Afro-Latinos; in fact, they have garnered significant traction with political administrations that have been amenable to them. For example, in 2012 Brazil had a significant Supreme Federal Court ruling that held that race-based affirmative action was constitutional. Notably, the opinion was rooted in the idea that neutrality was not enough—that it was not enough for law to be neutral if they wanted to achieve equality. That’s pretty remarkable. It contrasts with what has been happening with the U.S. Supreme Court in this area. Since the Reagan years, there has been this shift to a jurisprudence that is all about color blindness: Equality is viewed as simply being neutral. The Court doesn’t look at the material effects of people having different starting points and, consequently, different needs. That particular comparison shows a kind of enlightenment in the Latin American sphere that we have not seen in a while in the United States.

About a year or so after this Federal Supreme Court decision, new legislation called the Law of Social Quotas was passed in Brazil. What this did was mandate that there be race-based affirmative action within all the public federal universities. What’s significant about this is that there are actual quotas—numbers that can be measured and monitored. Institutions can be held accountable. There’s none of this discomfort with the idea that having accountability means that you’re demeaning someone by only viewing them as being a race. Instead, it’s a notion that the numbers matter because the numbers inform the direct way to integrate an institution.

This type of attention to race stands in marked contrast to the United States, where the use of affirmative action is sometimes misdescribed as being the most radical. But what is often misunderstood is that the United States has forbidden quotas since 1978 with the Bakke case [Regents of the University of California v. Bakke]. Thus, we don’t have authorization to use direct numerical set-asides. We can have targets and wish lists, but there can be no hard number. Without a hard number, how do you hold the institution accountable?…

Read the entire article here.

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The limits of affirmative action in Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2017-08-07 20:13Z by Steven

The limits of affirmative action in Brazil

Focus
France 24
2017-07-26

Brazil has the highest proportion of so-called “mixed race” people in the world. Yet only 13% of people aged 18 to 24 in that category are enrolled at university. Back in 2012, the government decided to introduce quotas for universities. But recently, the system appears to have stalled. Black student groups have denounced students they say are “too white” to benefit from this affirmative action policy, while universities have set up committees to examine skin color and ethnic background.

A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Aline Schmidt.

Watch the entire program here.

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