The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, South Africa on 2015-03-16 02:13Z by Steven

The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

The Yale Globalist
2013-12-24

Isidora Stankovic
Timothy Dwight College
Yale University

Look through any fashion magazine and you might notice something puzzling. Almost without exception, models of every race have the same sleek, straightened hair. The message from these media sources seems clear: these painstakingly smooth hairstyles are simply better. Women around the world have taken this message to heart and adopted straightened hair as a beauty ideal, but for some women, hair texture means something more. In societies with large mixed race populations, hair extends beyond beauty and becomes a factor that reveals ethnic heritage and even socioeconomic background. According to Professor Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University, “hair is a fashion statement as well as a statement of ethnicity.” Curls and kinky hair are loaded with stigma in many countries, in part because they represent the effects of historical interactions between different ethnic groups.

The legacy of European colonialism echoes strongly in Cuba, and has been influential in shaping race relations, social structure, and the identities of mixed-race individuals. Professor González Echevarría explains that Spaniards brought a relatively small number of African slaves to Cuba in the 16th century to replace the annihilated labor force. In the 19th century, the number of African slaves on the island grew as the country invested in the sugar industry. Interactions with white Europeans and black slaves created a significant mixed-race population, and the growth of this group has made it increasingly difficult to identify people as either black or white and produced a change in categorization of individuals. Thus, hair has become an important tool for labeling and social stratification. According to González Echevarría, “There are many gradations of mulatto in Cuba, and some are gauged by how kinky their hair is.” He adds that Cubans can be prejudiced against kinky hair, noting that to have kinky hair is to “tener pelo malo,” or “to have bad hair.” They may call the hair of black individuals “pasa,” and women of European origin even refer to their hair as “pasa” when they are having a bad hair day, often saying “tengo la pasa alborotada” (“I have messy/wild hair”)…

Read the entire article here.

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Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-03-01 02:50Z by Steven

Mestizaje and Public Opinion in Latin America

Latin American Research Review
Volume 48, Number 3 (2013)
pages 130-152
DOI: 10.1353/lar.2013.0045

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

Denia Garcia
Department of Sociology
Princeton University

Latin American elites authored and disseminated ideologies of mestizaje or race mixture, but does the general population value them today? Using the 2010 Americas Barometer, we examined public opinion about mestizaje in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru using survey questions that modeled mestizaje both as a principle of national development and as tolerance for intermarriage with black or indigenous people. We found that most Latin Americans support mestizaje, although support varies by country and ethnicity. Across countries, we find partial evidence that the strength of earlier nation-making mestizaje ideas is related to support for mestizaje today, and that strong multicultural policies may have actually strengthened such support. Ethnoracial minorities showed particular support for the national principle of mestizaje. Finally, we discovered that the national principle of mestizaje is associated with more tolerant attitudes about intermarriage, especially in countries with large Afro-descendant populations.

Ideas of mestizaje, or race mixture, are central to the formation of many Latin American nations and are assumed to predominate in much of the region today (Hale 2006; Holt 2003; Telles 2004; Wade 1993). Concepts of mestizaje stress racial fusion and the inclusion of diverse racial elements as essential to the nation; hence mestizos, or mixed-race people, are considered the prototypical citizens. Although racial hierarchies characterize Latin American socioeconomic structures (Telles, Flores, and Urrea-Giraldo 2010), ideas of mestizaje have stood in contrast to ideas of white racial purity and anti-miscegenation historically held in the United States (Bost 2003; Holt 2003; Sollors 2000). While ideas of mestizaje emerged as Latin American state projects in the early twentieth century, they are often hailed as widely shared ideologies that are central to Latin Americans’ understanding of race and race relations (Knight 1990; Mallon 1996; Whitten 2003).

Despite Latin America’s diverse racial composition and the fact that an estimated 133 million Afro-descendant and 34 million indigenous people reside there, according to recent data—numbers far higher than in the United States (Telles, forthcoming)—racial attitudes in Latin America have, surprisingly, been understudied. Despite clues from ethnographic research, we lack nationally representative evidence on the general population’s feelings about mestizaje. In this article, we examine support for mestizaje and its variations across nation and ethnicity in eight Latin American countries with large nonwhite populations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. These countries represent more than 70 percent of Latin America’s population and are home to the vast majority of both Afro-descendants and indigenous people in the region. We focused on two dimensions of the mestizaje ideology: as a national development principle and an individual intermarriage principle. The first, which is closely related to the national narratives developed by elites during nation making, maintains that race mixture is good for the nation. The second addresses tolerance for intermarriage in one’s family—often considered the ultimate marker of racial and ethnic integration (Alba and Nee 2003; Gordon 1964).

Our examination of eight Latin American countries provides new contexts for thinking about racial attitudes, beyond the large literature that is dominated by the case of the United States. Since racial meanings are context dependent, the study of Latin America may complicate social science understandings of racial attitudes more generally. As Krysan (2000, 161) wrote, “This complexity forces those who have developed their theories in an American context to take care not to rely too heavily on uniquely American values, principles, politics, and racial histories.” Latin America differs from the United States in that nothing like mestizaje ideology exists in the United States. Moreover, understanding racial attitudes is important because they may guide behaviors, even though attitudes are often more liberal than actual behaviors (Schuman et al. 1997). In particular, the degree to which the public embraces mestizaje may be important for understanding whether the ideology has implications for racial and national identity and democratic politics in Latin America, including whether the population would support or resist measures to combat racial discrimination and inequality…

Read the entire article here.

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Pigmentocracies: Educational Inequality, Skin Color and Census Ethnoracial Identification in Eight Latin American Countries

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2015-02-27 02:28Z by Steven

Pigmentocracies: Educational Inequality, Skin Color and Census Ethnoracial Identification in Eight Latin American Countries

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
Available online: 2015-02-25
DOI: 10.1016/j.rssm.2015.02.002

Edward Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

René Flores
University of Washington

Fernando Urrea Giraldo, Professor of Sociology
Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

Highlights

  • We use two measures of race and ethnicity – ethnoracial self-identification as used by national censuses and interviewer –rated skin color to examine educational inequality in eight Latin American countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.
  • We find that inequality based on skin color is more consistent and robust than inequality based on census ethnoracial identification.
  • Census ethnoracial identification often provided inconsistent results especially regarding the afro-descendant populations of Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
  • Skin color inequality was particularly great in Bolivia and Guatemala.
  • Parental occupation, a proxy for class origins, is also robust and positively associated with educational attainment.
  • In other words, both class and race, especially as measured by skin color, predicts educational inequality in Latin America.

For the first time, most Latin American censuses ask respondents to self-identify by race or ethnicity allowing researchers to examine long-ignored ethnoracial inequalities. However, reliance on census ethnoracial categories could poorly capture the manifestation(s) of race that lead to inequality in the region, because of classificatory ambiguity and within-category racial or color heterogeneity. To overcome this, we modeled the relation of both interviewer-rated skin color and census ethnoracial categories with educational inequality using innovative data from the 2010 America’s Barometer from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and 2010 surveys from the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA) for eight Latin American countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru). We found that darker skin color was negatively and consistently related to schooling in all countries, with and without extensive controls. Indigenous and black self-identification was also negatively related to schooling, though not always at a statistically significant and robust level like skin color. In contrast, results for self-identified mulattos, mestizos and whites were inconsistent and often counter to the expected racial hierarchy, suggesting that skin color measures often capture racial inequalities that census measures miss.

Read the entire article here.

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279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-27 01:35Z by Steven

279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Crossing Borders: 2015 Annual Meeting
Eastern Sociological Society
Millennium Broadway Hotel
New York, New York
2015-02-26 through 2015-03-01

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Organizer: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

Presider: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

  • Transracial Kin-scription: The Silent Engine of Racial Change? Kimberly McClain DaCosta — New York University
  • Emerging Patterns of Interracial Marriage and Immigrant Integration in the United States Daniel Lichter — Cornell University
  • Interracial Marriage in the U.S. and Brazil: Racial Boundaries in Comparative Perspective Chinyere Osuji — Rutgers University
  • A Global Look at Attitudes Towards “Mixed” Marriage Erica Chito-Childs — City University of New York – Hunter College

Discussant: Amy Steinbugler, Dickinson College

For more information, click here.

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Machado de Assis: A Literary Life

Posted in Biography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2015-02-18 02:57Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: A Literary Life

Yale University Press
2015-05-26
360 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
2 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300180824

K. David Jackson, Professor of Portuguese and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Portuguese
Yale University

Novelist, poet, playwright, and short story writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) is widely regarded as Brazil’s greatest writer, although his work is still too little read outside his native country. In this first comprehensive English-language examination of Machado since Helen Caldwell’s seminal 1970 study, K. David Jackson reveals Machado de Assis as an important world author, one of the inventors of literary modernism whose writings profoundly influenced some of the most celebrated authors of the twentieth century, including José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, and Donald Barthelme. Jackson introduces a hitherto unknown Machado de Assis to readers, illuminating the remarkable life, work, and legacy of the genius whom Susan Sontag called “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America” and whom Allen Ginsberg hailed as “another Kafka.” Philip Roth has said of him that “like Beckett, he is ironic about suffering.” And Harold Bloom has remarked of Machado that “he’s funny as hell.”

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Race in Contemporary Brazil: From Indifference to Inequality

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Women on 2015-01-26 02:08Z by Steven

Race in Contemporary Brazil: From Indifference to Inequality

Pennsylvania State University Press
1999
304 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9
1 illustration
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-01905-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-01906-2

Edited by: Rebecca Reichmann

Brazil’s traditionally agrarian economy, based initially on slave labor and later on rural labor and tenancy arrangements, established inequalities that have not diminished even with industrial development and urban growth. While fertility and infant mortality rates have dropped significantly and life expectancy has increased during the past thirty years, the gaps in mortality between rich and poor have remained constant. And among the poor of different races, including the 45 percent of Brazil’s population identified as preto (“black”) or pardo (“brown”) in the official census, persistent inequalities cannot be explained by the shortcomings of national economic development or failure of the “modernization” process.

Reichmann assembles the most important work of Brazilians writing today on contemporary racial dynamics in policy-relevant areas: the construction of race and color classification systems, access to education, employment and health, racial inequalities in the judiciary and politics, and black women’s status and roles. Despite these glaring social inequalities, racial discrimination in Brazil is poorly understood, both within and outside Brazil.

The still-widespread notion of harmonious “racial democracy” in Brazil was first articulated by anthropologist Gilberto Freyre in the 1930s and was subsequently reinforced by the popular media, social observers, and scholars. By giving voice to Brazilians’ own interpretations of race, this volume represents an essential contribution to the increasingly international debates about the African diaspora and comparative constructions of race.

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“Does it take work leaving your hair like that?” – We resist! Sou negra (I am a black woman)!” – The development of black identity for a negro-mestiça

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2015-01-15 18:22Z by Steven

“Does it take work leaving your hair like that?” – We resist! Sou negra (I am a black woman)!” – The development of black identity for a negro-mestiça

Black Women of Brazil
2015-01-15

We resist! Negra Soy (I am a black woman)!” (August, 2014) from Biscate Social Club

Lia Siqueira


Lia Siqueira

“Yes, it takes work. Prejudice beats us, but we resist.” That’s what I said when a lady on the bus asked: “Does it take work leave your hair like that?” I understood what she wanted to know. But what suffocated me at that moment needed to be said. I didn’t want to exchange secrets to give freshness and volume to the hair. I didn’t want to speak of aloe, bepantol (1) or the potential for a good hydration schedule. Until then, I had been giving the aesthetic responses to that type of question. Those responses were expected by those who had their curiosity aroused by my “petulant” hair. However, there comes a time that all we need to transcend the aesthetic question of resistance – to communicate the subversion of our blackness and assume responsibly, our place – to show what is most valuable was born from the roots on our heads. The intimacy of looking at our roots without relaxing, which infests them, and celebrating our heads, our ideas.

Cultivating a relationship of love with our black hair and taking from ourselves the most powerful us. I don’t mean some natural mix ups provoked by the texture of the curls. I speak of what makes it difficult for us, the looks, the ridicule, judgments, the racism…

…I am the daughter of a white woman and a black man. I was born of the mixture so hypocritically celebrated by the gringos in this our pseudo-racial democracy. I came into the world like this: mixed up in this being-not being black. With “morena” (brown/light brown) skin, in this Brazil where todas as gatas são “pardas” (all the cats are “brown”) (2), “toasted ones”, “mulatas”, “brown colored”, but not “negras”. In my home, I learned not to reject blackness or to whiten myself. I was loved with my curly hair, by my white mother – there I was me and I was secure. But socialization comes, it is inevitable. With it, we are run over by filters of prejudices. The incomprehension of classmates at school quickly became racism. As in the beginning of the poem by Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra, “Me gritaron negra” (they screamed negra at me), I retreated before the laughter because of my cabelo crespo (curly/kinky hair). Before the age of thirteen I was using straighteners and relaxers

Read the entire article here.

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Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and His Novels

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2015-01-13 20:34Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and His Novels

University of California Press
1970
270 pages
ISBN: 9780520016088

Helen Caldwell

Machado de Assis is among the most original creative minds in Brazils rich, four-century-long literary tradition. Miss Caldwell’s critical and biographical study explores Machado’s purpose, meaning, and artistic method in each of his nine novels, published between 1872 and 1908. She traces the ideas and recurrent themes, and identifies his affinities with other authors.

In tracing Machado’s experimentation with narrative techniques, Miss Caldwell reveals the increasingly subtle use he made of point of view, sometimes indirect or reflected, sometimes multiple and “nested” like Chinese boxes.

Miss Caldwell shows the increasing sureness with which he individualized his characters, and how. in advance of his time, he developed action, not by realistic detail, but by the boldest use of allusion and symbol. Each novel is shown to be an artistic venture, and not in any sense a regurgitation from a sick soul as some critics have argued.

In searching out the unity of his novels. Miss Caldwell explores the other aspects of Machado’s intellectual life—as poet, journalist, playwright, conversationalist, and academician. Of particular interest is her attention to his shift away from the social criticism of his early novels into the labyrinth of individual psychology in the last five—all of which rank among world literature. But this perceptive account never loses sight of the one element present in every piece of Machado’s fiction, in every one of his personages; that is, superlative comedy, in its whole range: wit, irony, satire, parody, burlesque, humor.

Altogether, Miss Caldwell reveals to us a writer, in essence a poet, who is still the altus prosator of Brazilian letters.

Read the entire book here or here.

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Carl N. Degler, Scholarly Champion of the Oppressed in America, Dies at 93

Posted in Articles, Biography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-11 17:21Z by Steven

Carl N. Degler, Scholarly Champion of the Oppressed in America, Dies at 93

The New York Times
2015-01-10

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent

For four decades, as a Stanford University scholar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a commentator who envisioned a future that did not repeat the mistakes of the past, Carl N. Degler endeavored to remedy American myopia.

“Virtually from the beginning,” Professor Degler once lamented, “Americans have seen themselves outside history, as a people constituting a nation of the future.”

Delving into overlooked corners of history, he illuminated the role of women, the poor and ethnic minorities in the nation’s evolution and was embraced as a feminist and defender of affirmative action. He explored the 19th century American South; compared race relations in the United States and Brazil; and traced a revival of biological Darwinism in debates over human behavior.

He died on Dec. 27 at 93 in Palo Alto, Calif., his wife, Therese, confirmed.

As an emeritus professor of American history at Stanford, Professor Degler encouraged his students to pursue less traveled intellectual paths, as he had with his book “Neither Black Nor White,” which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for history in 1972. In it he compared the origins and legacy of slavery in the United States and Brazil…

Read the entire obituary here.

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The “Return” of Race in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-01-09 21:32Z by Steven

The “Return” of Race in Brazil

Japan Sociology
2014-12-16

Chloe Lyu

This blog explores life in Japan from a sociological perspective. It is produced by Robert Moorehead and his students at Ritsumeikan University‘s College of International Relations, in Kyoto, Japan.

Different from the American white or black model of racial classification, there is a large range of choices between black and white for Brazilians to identify themselves, since Brazil applies skin colour as criteria for classifying one’s race. However, skin colour is more than skin tones in Brazil, as it also relates to the texture of hair, the shape of nose, lips and cultural background.

Moreno (brown) is the most popular term, which is used by nearly 44% of the population when people describe their skin colour. Its ambiguity allows a wide range of people with different skin tones to fit in the same box. In addition, brown is celebrated as a national symbol of mixed raced Brazilians. The founder of Brazil’s national identity, Gilberto Freyre, declared that the skin colour of brown was a great combination of Black, Indian and European, thus it symbolized mixed races of Brazilians’ commonness. Freyre’s work created an image that Brazil was a racial democracy without discrimination, due to everyone’s mixed background, thus everyone was the same.

Nevertheless, the reality tells a different story…

Read the entire article here.

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