The Land of Miscegenation: Is the Racial Democracy Theory in Brazil a Myth?

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-05-09 17:02Z by Steven

The Land of Miscegenation: Is the Racial Democracy Theory in Brazil a Myth?

Morgan State University
May 2005
86 pages
Publication Number: AAT 1430902
ISBN: 9780542025518

Makini Ramisi Chaka

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

This research is designed to show that Brazil’s racial democracy theory, founded in the early-20 th century by sociologist, Gilberto Freyre, is a myth. The theory states that miscegenation, acculturation and assimilation created a cultural mélange that made all races equal. However, severe social, economic, and political oppression of non-whites, specifically African descendants in Brazil have forced the country to reevaluate its national endorsement as a racial democracy.

The author explores three of the fundamental factors of the racial democracy theory, (1) miscegenation, (2) race vs. class, and (3) social and legal discrimination. In addition the author uses comparative analysis methodology from a cultural studies disciplinary approach to evaluate the arguments of proponents and opponents of the racial democracy theory. The opponents led by Florestan Fernandes in the 1960’s reveal white supremacy as the dominating form of race relations between blacks and whites in Brazil by examining racial mixing, race and class disparities, and forms of discrimination. This research focuses on the effects of those factors upon the Afro-Brazilian population, which distinctly occupy a subordinate place in society.

The conclusion reached by this author is that the racial democracy theory is a myth of the powerful white elite. The myth not only denies racial identification and a shared ethnic identity of African descendants in Brazil, but it also suppresses racial mobilization and denies them a right to legal defense.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1
    • Introduction
    • Statement of the Problem
    • Background of the Problem
    • Purpose of the Study
    • Importance of the Study
  • Chapter 2: Literature Review
  • Chapter 3: Theoretical Framework
  • Chapter 4: Miscegenation
  • Chapter 5: Race vs. Class
  • Chapter 6: Social and Legal Discrimination
  • Chapter 7: Conclusion

Purchase the thesis here.

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Beyond poverty: the Negro and the Mulatto in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Slavery, Social Science on 2011-09-20 04:12Z by Steven

Beyond poverty: the Negro and the Mulatto in Brazil

Journal de la Société des Américanistes
Volume 58 (1969)
pages 121-137
DOI: 10.3406/jsa.1969.2100

Florestan Fernandes

This paper was first presented, in a condensed version, at the seminars on “Minorities in Latin America and the United States”, (The College of the Finger Lakes, Corning, New York, December 5, 1969).

1. Introduction :

The most impressive aspect of the racial situation in Brazil appears under the trenchant denial of the existence of any “color” or “racial” problem. Racial prejudice and discrimination, as racial segregation, are seen as a sort of sin and as dishonorable behavior. Thus, we have two different levels of reality perception and of action connected with “color” and “race”: first, overt, in which racial equality and racial democracy are supposed and proclaimed; second, covert, in which collateral functions perform through, below and beyond the social stratification.

This overlay is not exclusive to race relations. It appears in other levels of social life. In the case of race relations it emerges as a clear product from the prevailing racial ideology and racial Utopia, both built during slavery by the white-dominant stratum—the rural and urban masters. Slavery was not in conflict with the Portuguese law and cultural tradition. The Roman law offered to the crown ordinances the elements with which it would be possible to classify the “Indians” or the “Africans” as things, as moveable property, and establish the social transmission of social position through the mother (according to the principle partus sequitur ventrem), deny to the slave any human condition (servus personam non habet, etc.) On the other hand, slavery was practiced on a small scale in Lisbon, and was attempted in Acores, Madeira, Cabo Verde and Sâo Tome, pioneering the modern plantation system. But slavery was in conflict with religion and the mores created by the Catholic conception of the world. This conflict, of a moral nature, did not give to the slave, in general, a better condition and more human treatment, as Frank Tannebaum believed. It only brought about a tendency to disguise things, separating the permissive from the real being.

Nevertheless, Brazil has a good intellectual tradition of penetrating, realistic, and unmasking objective knowledge of the racial situation. First of all, the conservative pride had given rise to very clear distinctions (as usually happened with the masters and some aristocratic white families arrogantly self-affirmative on matters of racial inequality and race differences). Second, some outstanding figures, leaders of the ideals of national emancipation or of abolitionism, as Jose Bonifacio de Andrade e Silva, Luiz Gama, Perdigao Malheiros, Joaquim Nabuco, Antonio Bento, etc., tried to point out the nature of the white behavior and value-orientations, connected with the Negroes and the Mulattos. Third, the “negro movements” after the First World War (especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro during the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s), as well as intellectual Negro conferences on race relations, have contributed to a new realistic perception and explanation of the complex Brazilian racial situation.

The findings of modern sociological, anthropological, or psychological investigations (Samuel Lowrie; Roger Bastide and Florestan Fernandes; L. A. Costa Pinto; Oracy Megueira; A. Guerreiro Ramos; Octavio Ianni, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Renato Jardim Moreira; Thaïes de Azevedo; Charles Wagley, Marvin Harris, Henry W. Hutchinson and Ben Zimmerman; René Ribeiro; Joao Baptista Borges Pereira; Virginia Leone Bicudo; Aniela Ginsberg; Carolina Martuscelli Bori; Dante Moreira Leite; etc.), have confirmed and deepened the evidence discovered by earlier writers. In the present discussion, I will limit myself to three special topics: the roots of competitive social order in Brazil; some objective evidences of racial ine quality and its sociological meaning; the Brazilian pattern of racial prejudice and discrimination…

Read the entire article here.

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