The Sorcery of Color: Identity, Race, and Gender in Brazil

The Sorcery of Color: Identity, Race, and Gender in Brazil

Temple University Press
November 2006
336 pages
6 tables
Paper EAN: 978-1-59213-351-2; ISBN: 1-59213-351-7
Cloth EAN: 978-1-59213-350-5; ISBN: 1-59213-350-9
Electronic Book EAN: 978-1-59213-352-9

Elisa Larkin Nascimento, Director
IPEAFRO Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Originally published in 2003 in Portuguese, The Sorcery of Color argues that there are longstanding and deeply-rooted relationships between racial and gender inequalities in Brazil. In this pioneering book, Elisa Larkin Nascimento examines the social and cultural movements that have attempted, since the early twentieth century, to challenge and eradicate these conjoined inequalities.

The book’s title describes the social sleight-of-hand that disguises the realities of Brazilian racial inequity. According to Nascimento, anyone who speaks of racism—or merely refers to another person as black—traditionally is seen as racist. The only acceptably non-racist attitude is silence. At the same time, Afro-Brazilian culture and history have been so overshadowed by the idea of a general “Brazilian identity” that to call attention to them is also to risk being labeled racist.

Incorporating leading international scholarship on Pan Africanism and Afrocentric philosophy with the writing of Brazilian scholars, Nascimento presents a compelling feminist argument against the prevailing policy that denies the importance of race in favor of a purposefully vague concept of ethnicity confused with color.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction to the English Edition
  • Preface – Kabengele Munanga
  • Introduction
  • 1. Identity, Race, and Gender
  • 2. Brazil and the Making of “Virtual Whiteness”
  • 3. Constructing and Desconstructing the “Crazy Creole”
  • 4. Another History: Afro-Brazilian Agency (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, 1914-1960)
  • 5. The Black Experimental Theater: Plots, Texts, and Actors
  • Glossary of Brazilian Words
  • Bibliographical References

…The second obstacle to the discussion of race in Brazil is resistance to the idea that African populations in different parts of the world share a common experience. The presumption is that blacks in Brazil are in a unique situation determined solely by the circumstances of their society and have little or nothing in common with black populations in other parts of the world. Critics have frequently accused the black social movement in Brazil of attempting to import foreign standards and raising a problem that has never existed before. On the other hand, the concerns of the black movement often revolve around issues specific to Brazil rather than racism as a world phenomenon.

But racist domination is worldwide in scope. It derives from the historical imposition of Western hegemony over non-Western peoples and its essence is expressed in the ideology of white supremacy. The standard of whiteness affects the identity constructs of all dominated peoples, making the issue of identity crucial, but oftentimes, it is expressed in specific local terms. In Brazil, the sorcery of color transforms mixed-race identity into a permanent search for the simulation of whiteness…

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