The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2018-02-14 04:47Z by Steven

The Anti-Black City: Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil

University of Minnesota Press
320 pages
9 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-1-5179-0156-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-5179-0155-4

Jaime Amparo Alves, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
College of Staten Island of the City University of New York
also: Associate Researcher
Centro de Estudios Afrodiaspóricos of Universidad Icesi/Colombia

An important new ethnographic study of São Paulo’s favelas reveals the widespread use of race-based police repression in Brazil

While Black Lives Matter still resonates in the United States, the movement has also become a potent rallying call worldwide, with harsh police tactics and repressive state policies often breaking racial lines. In The Anti-Black City, Jaime Amparo Alves delves into the dynamics of racial violence in Brazil, where poverty, unemployment, residential segregation, and a biased criminal justice system create urban conditions of racial precarity.

The Anti-Black City provocatively offers race as a vital new lens through which to view violence and marginalization in the supposedly “raceless” São Paulo. Ironically, in a context in which racial ambiguity makes it difficult to identify who is black and who is white, racialized access to opportunities and violent police tactics establish hard racial boundaries through subjugation and death. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in prisons and neighborhoods on the periphery of this mega-city, Alves documents the brutality of police tactics and the complexity of responses deployed by black residents, including self-help initiatives, public campaigns against police violence, ruthless gangs, and self-policing of communities.

The Anti-Black City reveals the violent and racist ideologies that underlie state fantasies of order and urban peace in modern Brazil. Illustrating how “governing through death” has become the dominant means for managing and controlling ethnic populations in the neoliberal state, Alves shows that these tactics only lead to more marginalization, criminality, and violence. Ultimately, Alves’s work points to a need for a new approach to an intractable problem: how to govern populations and territories historically seen as “ungovernable.”

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: On Our Own Terms
  • 1. Macabre Spatialities
  • 2. “Police, Get off My Back!”
  • 3. The Favela-Prison Pipeline
  • 4. Sticking Up!
  • 5. Bringing Back the Dead
  • Conclusion: Blackpolis
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Tags: , ,

Slavery’s legacies

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science on 2016-10-04 00:30Z by Steven

Slavery’s legacies

The Economist


American thinking about race is starting to influence Brazil, the country whose population was shaped more than any other’s by the Atlantic slave trade

ALEXANDRA LORAS has lived in eight countries and visited 50-odd more. In most, any racism she might have experienced because of her black skin was deflected by her status as a diplomat’s wife. Not in Brazil, where her white husband acted as French consul in São Paulo for four years. At consular events, Ms Loras would be handed coats by guests who mistook her for a maid. She was often taken for a nanny to her fair-haired son. “Brazil is the most racist country I know,” she says.

Many Brazilians would bristle at this characterisation—and not just whites. Plenty of preto (black) and pardo (mixed-race) Brazilians, who together make up just over half of the country’s 208m people, proudly contrast its cordial race relations with America’s interracial strife. They see Brazil as a “racial democracy”, following the ideas of Gilberto Freyre, a Brazilian sociologist who argued in the 1930s that race did not divide Brazil as it did other post-slavery societies. Yet the gulf between white Brazilians and their black and mixed-race compatriots is huge…

…Of the 12.5m Africans trafficked across the Atlantic between 1501 and 1866, only 300,000-400,000 disembarked in what is now the United States. They were quickly outnumbered by European settlers. Most whites arrived in families, so interracial relationships were rare. Though white masters fathered many slave children, miscegenation was frowned upon, and later criminalised in most American states.

As black Americans entered the labour market after emancipation, they threatened white incomes, says Avidit Acharya of Stanford University. “One drop” of black blood came to be seen as polluting; laws were passed defining mixed-race children as black and cutting them out of inheritance (though the palest sometimes “passed” as white). Racial resentment, as measured by negative feelings towards blacks, is still greater in areas where slavery was more common. After abolition, violence and racist legislation, such as segregation laws and literacy tests for voters, kept black Americans down.

But these also fostered solidarity among blacks, and mobilisation during the civil-rights era. The black middle class is now quite large. Ms Loras would not seem anomalous in any American city, as she did in São Paulo…

…Both black and white Brazilians have long considered “whiteness” something that can be striven towards. In 1912 João Baptista de Lacerda, a medic and advocate of “whitening” Brazil by encouraging European immigration, predicted that by 2012 the country would be 80% white, 3% mixed and 17% Amerindian; there would be no blacks. As Luciana Alves, who has researched race at the University of São Paulo, explains, an individual could “whiten his soul” by working hard or getting rich. Tomás Santa Rosa, a successful mid-20th-century painter, consoled a dark-skinned peer griping about discrimination, saying that he too “used to be black”.

Though only a few black and mixed-race Brazilians ever succeeded in “becoming white”, their existence, and the non-binary conception of race, allowed politicians to hold up Brazil as an exemplar of post-colonial harmony. It also made it harder to rally black Brazilians round a hyphenated identity of the sort that unites African-Americans. Brazil’s Unified Black Movement, founded in 1978 and inspired by militant American outfits such as the Black Panthers, failed to gain traction. Racism was left not only unchallenged but largely unarticulated.

Now Brazil’s racial boundaries are shifting—and in the opposite direction to that predicted by Baptista de Lacerda. After falling from 20% to 5% between 1872 and 1990, the share of self-described pretos edged up in the past quarter-century, to 8%. The share of pardos jumped from 39% in 2000 to 43% in 2010. These increases are bigger than can be explained by births, deaths and immigration, suggesting that some Brazilians who used to see themselves as white or pardo are shifting to pardo or preto. This “chromatographic convergence”, as Marcelo Paixão of the University of Texas, in Austin, dubs it, owes a lot to policy choices…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-30 14:52Z by Steven

Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

News From Marshall University
Huntington, West Virginia

Dave Wellman, Director of Communications
Telephone: (304) 696-7153

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Dr. Zelideth Maria Rivas, an assistant professor of Japanese in Marshall University’s Department of Modern Languages, has been awarded a “very competitive” National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipends award, according to Dr. R.B. Bookwalter, dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts.

Rivas is the only recipient of the Summer Stipend award in West Virginia. The award will help her work toward completion of a book she has titled “Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil.”

“Dr. Rivas is an energetic and imaginative teacher and scholar,” Bookwalter said. “We are very fortunate to have her here at Marshall and we are extremely pleased that the NEH has recognized and supported her project.”

Rivas said, “I am honored that this award will support the completion of my book through travel to Japan and time to revise existing chapters. More importantly, I am excited for the recognition this brings to the Department of Modern Languages, the College of Liberal Arts and Marshall University.”

Here is her abstract for the project:

“From the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Hamamatsu, Japan, a large diasporic population of Japanese Brazilians is ever present in media, politics and the economy as symbols of kinship and citizenship with singular national identities. And yet, these identities move beyond dualistic constructions of Japanese or Brazilian. As an NEH Summer Stipend Fellow, I will investigate these claims in my book, Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil while completing the final research needed in Japan during the summer of 2015.

Read the entire press release here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Immigrants Stir New Life Into São Paulo’s Gritty Old Center

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2014-04-17 01:32Z by Steven

Immigrants Stir New Life Into São Paulo’s Gritty Old Center

The New York Times

Simon Romero, Brazil Bureau Chief

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — For obvious reasons, many Paulistanos still consider this megacity’s decrepit old center a no-go zone.

Carjacking and kidnapping gangs prey on motorists at stoplights. Squatters control dozens of graffiti-splattered apartment buildings. Sinewy addicts roam through the streets smoking crack cocaine in broad daylight.

But slip into Jean Katumba’s cramped Internet cafe and a different picture emerges.

“They call this place ugly, but I see its beauty,” said Mr. Katumba, 37, who arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo just 11 months ago.

Trained as an engineer in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, he earns a living here in Baixada do Glicério, a crime-ridden district, renting computers to customers speaking a variety of languages, from Haitian Creole to Colombian-accented Spanish and the Lingala of his homeland.

“São Paulo means a great thing to me: opportunity,” he said.

An array of similar ventures started by immigrants is flourishing amid the grit of São Paulo’s old center, reflecting shifts in global immigration patterns. Reinforcing São Paulo’s status as Brazil’s premier global city, Asians, largely from China, Africans and Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are flowing in…

…São Paulo’s new immigration surge stands in contrast to previous waves. After the overthrow of Emperor Dom Pedro II in 1889, Brazil’s first Constitution as a republic promoted a policy of “branqueamento,” or whitening, of Brazilian society through European immigration, while prohibiting immigration from Africa and Asia, according to scholars…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

“Japanese in the Samba”: Japanese Brazilian Musical Citizenship, Racial Consciousness, and Transnational Migration

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-15 17:41Z by Steven

“Japanese in the Samba”: Japanese Brazilian Musical Citizenship, Racial Consciousness, and Transnational Migration

University of Pittsburgh
213 pages

Shanna Lorenz, Assistant Professor of Music
Occidental College, Los Angeles, California

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

his doctoral dissertation is an ethnographic study of musical culture among Japanese Brazilians in São Paulo, Brazil. Specifically, the study explores how the musical culture of this community has changed in recent years as a result of the dekasegui movement, the migration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese Brazilians who have traveled to Japan since 1990 in search of work. In order to explore these questions, I conducted fieldwork between May and November of 2003 on three musical groups, Zhen Brasil, Ton Ton Mi, and Wadaiko Sho, each of which have found different ways to invoke, contest, and reinvent their Brazilian and Japanese musical heritages. By exploring these groups’ musical practices, texts, dance, costumes, and discourses of self-definition, this study offers insight into shifts in the ethnic self-definition and racial consciousness of the Japanese Brazilian community that have taken place as the result of face-to-face contact between Japanese Brazilians and Japanese under the conditions of contiguous globalization. This study contributes to our current understandings of the impact of circular forms of migration on the musical culture and ethnic identity of diasporic communities in the contemporary world.

Read the entire dissertation here.

Tags: , , , ,

Notes on the Racial Contours of Visual Culture in São Paulo, Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2013-05-09 02:08Z by Steven

Notes on the Racial Contours of Visual Culture in São Paulo, Brazil

Volume 17 (2012-12-18)

Reighan Gillam, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

In this three part series of essays I will consider some of the aspects of race and visuality in Brazil. This article will lay out the dominant ways in which Afro-Brazilians are represented in the public sphere and describe the racial logics that sustain these images. The next two articles will probe the domestic and international incursions into the racial visual field.

On one of my meetings with Renato Ribeiro, an Afro-Brazilian media worker, we walked along the crowded streets of São Paulo en route to eat lunch and talk about his experience working in mainstream and alternative black media. I jogged beside him in order to keep up with his short, brusque strides, and listened to him tell me about the hegemony of whiteness in the national media. He suddenly stopped in front of one of the bancos das revistas or magazine stands that punctuate the city’s sidewalks and illustrated his point by gesturing towards the covers facing us and saying, “look at the capas (covers) of the magazines facing us. They are all white people…of course except for Revista Raça (Race Magazine).” Race Magazine is Brazil’s only national magazine that represents Afro-Brazilians and a quick scan of the magazine’s stand’s content proved his point. In recognizing the magazine stands as visual sites of racial representations, Renato also drew attention to the ways in which visual culture is embedded within the landscape of the city and the racial implications of its depictions.

That someone would point out the dominance of whiteness in the media is not new. What is different is the national context of Brazil and the racial ideologies that underpin the forms that some representations take. Although becoming increasingly more common, racial critiques of the media and other areas of power have largely been silenced or ignored by the belief in racial democracy that many Brazilians sustain. The idea of racial democracy in Brazil ascribes the origins of the national population to mixture between Portuguese, African, and Indigenous peoples. It is commonly thought that this mixture blurred the boundaries between distinct racial groups and thus acts as a barrier against racism or racial prejudice. Although scholars have documented the ways in which racism continues to marginalize Afro-Brazilian access to economic, political, and social power, general ideas about racial democracy continue to underwrite a pervasive silence around discussing race or racial inequality among the general Brazilian populace. Thus when Renato levies a racial critique of the magazine stand’s visual contents, he articulates a view often unheard among many segments of the population…

Read the entire article here.

Read part 2, “Watching Everybody Hates Chris in Brazil” (2013-03-05).
Read part 3, “Afro-Brazilian Public Sphere” (2013-05-07).

Tags: , ,

Blacks and Whites in São Paulo, Brazil 1888–1988

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2012-08-19 04:05Z by Steven

Blacks and Whites in São Paulo, Brazil 1888–1988

University of Wisconsin Press
November 1991
376 pages
6 x 9; 1 map
Paper ISBN: 978-0-299-13104-3

George Reid Andrews, Distinguished Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh

Winner of the 1993 Arthur P. Whitaker Prize

For much of the twentieth century Brazil enjoyed an international reputation as a “racial democracy,” but that image has been largely undermined in recent decades by research suggesting the existence of widespread racial inequality. George Reid Andrews provides the first thoroughly documented history of Brazilian racial inequality from the abolition of slavery in 1888 up to the late 1980s, showing how economic, social, and political changes in Brazil during the last one hundred years have shaped race relations.

No laws of segregation or apartheid exist in Brazil, but by looking carefully at government policies, data on employment, mainstream and Afro-Brazilian newspapers, and a variety of other sources, Andrews traces pervasive discrimination against Afro-Brazilians over time. He draws his evidence from the country’s largest and most economically important state, São Paulo, showing how race relations were affected by its transformation from a plantation-based economy to South America’s most urban, industrialized society.

The book focuses first on Afro-Brazilians’ entry into the agricultural and urban working class after the abolition of slavery. This transition, Andrews argues, was seriously hampered by state policies giving the many European immigrants of the period preference over black workers. As immigration declined and these policies were overturned in the late 1920s, black laborers began to be employed in agriculture and industry on nearly equal terms with whites. Andrews then surveys efforts of blacks to move into the middle class during the 1900s. He finds that informal racial solidarity among middle-class whites has tended to exclude Afro-Brazilians from the professions and other white-collar jobs.

Andrews traces how discrimination throughout the century led Afro-Brazilians to mobilize, first through the antislavery movement of the 1880s, then through such social and political organizations of the 1920s and 1930s as the Brazilian Black Front, and finally through the anti-racism movements of the 1970s and 1980s. These recent movements have provoked much debate among Brazilians over their national image as a racial democracy. It remains to be seen, Andrews concludes, whether that debate will result in increased opportunities for black Brazilians.


  • Lists of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Part 1. Workers
    • Chapter 2. Slavery and Emancipation, 1800-1890
    • Chapter 3. Immigration, 1890-1930
    • Chapter 4. Working, 1920-1960
  • Part 2. The Middle Class
    • Chapter 5. Living in a Racial Democracy, 1900-1940
    • Chapter 6. Blacks Ascending, 1940-1988
    • Chapter 7. Organizing, 1945-1988
  • Part 3. Past, Present, Future
    • Chapter 8. One Hundred Years of Freedom: May 13, 1988
    • Chapter 9. Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • Appendix A. Population of Sao Paulo State, 1800-1980
  • Appendix B. Brazilian Racial Terminology
  • Appendix C. Personnel Records at the Jafet and São Paulo Tramway, Light, and Power Companies
  • Glossary
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , ,

Racial Classification Regarding Semen Donor Selection in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-03-03 03:36Z by Steven

Racial Classification Regarding Semen Donor Selection in Brazil

Developing World Bioethics
Volume 7, Issue 2 (August 2007)
pages 104–111
DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-8847.2007.00192.x

Rosely Gomes Costa, Pós-doutorado em Ciências Sociais pela
Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) e pela Universidade Autônoma de Barcelona (Espanha)

Brazil has not yet approved legislation on assisted reproduction. For this reason, clinics, hospitals and semen banks active in the area follow Resolution 1358/92 of the Conselho Federal de Medicina, dated 30 September 1992. In respect to semen donation, the object of this article, the Resolution sets out that gamete donation shall be anonymous, that is, that the donor and recipients (and the children who might subsequently be born) shall not be informed of each other’s identity. Thus, since recipients are unaware of the donor’s identity, semen banks and the medical teams involved in assisted reproduction become the intermediaries in the process. The objective of this article is to show that, in practice, this represents disrespect for the ethical principles of autonomy, privacy and equality. The article also stresses that the problem is compounded by the racial question. In a country like Brazil, where racial classification is so flexible and goes side by side with racist attitudes, the intermediary role played by semen banks and medical teams is conditioned by their own criteria of racial classification, which are not always the same as those of donors and semen recipients. The data presented in this paper were taken from two semen banks located in the city of São Paulo (Brazil). At the time of my research, they were the only semen banks in the state of São Paulo and supplied semen to the capital (São Paulo city), the state of São Paulo, and to cities in other Brazilian states where semen banks were not available.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , ,

Health in Black and White: Debates on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-01-10 22:56Z by Steven

Health in Black and White: Debates on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in Brazil

University of California, San Diego
320 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3458492
ISBN: 9781124703657

Anna Pagano

A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology

In 2006, the Brazilian Health Council approved a National Health Policy for the Black Population. The Policy is striking because it promotes the image of a biologically and culturally discrete black population in a nation where racial classification has historically been relatively fluid and ambiguous. It transforms established patterns of racialization by collapsing “brown” (pardo) and “black” (preto) Brazilian Census categories into a single “black population” (população negra) to be considered a special-needs group by the public health apparatus. This construction resembles the United States’ dominant mode of racialization based on hypodescent and represents a significant departure from hegemonic portrayals of Brazil as a racially mixed nation. Furthermore, the Policy challenges national ideologies of racial and cultural unity by affirming the existence of an essential black body with specific health concerns, as well as an essential Afro-Brazilian culture that materializes in recommendations for culturally competent health care. As such, the Policy constitutes an important site for new negotiations of racial and cultural identity in Brazil.

In this dissertation, I explore the political and social implications of treating racial and ethnic groups differently within Brazilian health care. I examine how the re-definition and medicalization of racial and cultural identities unfolds in public clinics, temples of Afro-Brazilian religion, and social movements based in São Luís and São Paulo, Brazil. Through an analysis of ethnographic data that I collected over twenty-four months, I assess the impact of recent developments in race-conscious health policy on Brazilians’ lived experiences of race, ethnicity, and health disparities.

I argue that the new Policy, and its associated health programs, signals the emergence of a new biopolitical paradigm in which the Brazilian state formalizes citizens’ racial and ethnic differences in order to address inequalities among them. I also show that many aspects of these programs, which incorporate global discourses and concepts related to health equity, fail to resonate with Brazilian citizens’ notions about race and health. Consequently, patients and healthcare providers often resist the new measures. The result is a disjuncture between policy and practice that ultimately hinders Brazil’s efforts to reduce health inequalities among its citizens.


  • Signature Page
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Vita
  • Abstract of the Dissertation
    • Chapter 1: Introduction
      • Race and Ethnicity
      • Biologization and the Re-Biologization of Race
      • Medicalization
      • Medicalization of Race
      • Biopower and Biopolitics
      • Applying a Biopolitical Framework to the Medicalization of Race
      • Race and National Identity in Brazil
      • Black Movement Activism
      • Public Health in Brazil
      • Ethnographic Field Sites
    • Chapter 2: Everyday Narratives on Race, Racism, and Health
      • Patients’ Narratives on Race and Health
      • Health Care Professionals’ Narratives on Race and Health
      • Patients and Providers: A Counter-Biopolitics
    • Chapter 3: The Birth of the Black Health Agenda in Brazil
      • Black Health Activism in Brazil
      • The Black Health Agenda in São Paulo
      • The Black Health Agenda in São Luís
    • Chapter 4: The Black Health Epistemic Community in Brazil
      • The Politics of Categorization
      • The Imperative of Self-Declaration
      • Etiological Claims
      • Medicalizing Racism
      • Discourses of Difference
      • Implications for Citizenship
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 5: Health and Healing in Afro-Brazilian Religions
      • Afro-Brazilian Religions: A Brief Background
      • Mãe Letícia
      • Pai Cesar
      • Healing in Afro-Brazilian Religions
    • Chapter 6: Afro-Brazilian Religions and the State
      • Partnerships between Terreiros and SUS: Rehabilitating History
      • Razor Blades and Comic Strips
      • Other Sources of Conflict
      • Cultural Competence and the Terreiro
      • De-Sacralizing the Terreiro
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 7: Afro-Brazilian Religions and Ethnic Identity Politics in the Brazilian
      • Public Health Arena
      • Terreiro Health Activists’ Identity Politics
      • Conclusion
    • Chapter 8: Health in Black and White
  • Bibliography


  • Figure 1. Household Income, 2000
  • Figure 2. Distribution of Race/Color (Pretos and Pardos), 2000
  • Figure 3. Public Health Facilities and Distribution of Population by Color in São Paulo, 2000
  • Figure 4. Population Density of São Paulo, 2000


  • Table 1. Characteristics of Sample Population
  • Table 2. Self-Identified Race or Color
  • Table 3. Beliefs Regarding Health Outcomes between Blacks and Whites

Purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: , , ,