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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Machado de Assis: A Literary Life

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2015-01-13 19:49Z 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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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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Brazil’s hidden slavery past uncovered at Valongo Wharf

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2014-12-27 00:41Z by Steven

Brazil’s hidden slavery past uncovered at Valongo Wharf

BBC News
2014-12-24

Julia Carneiro
BBC Brasil, Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city looking to the future. Major development work is underway in the city’s historic port area as it prepares to host the Olympics in 2016.

But the construction effort to make all that happen has unexpectedly shone a light on a dark side of Rio: its past as the largest entry point for African slaves in the Americas.

In 2011, excavation work uncovered the site of Valongo Wharf, where almost a million African slaves disembarked before the slave trade was declared illegal in Brazil in 1831.

The wharf and the complex surrounding it were constructed in 1779 as part of an effort to move what was regarded as an unsightly trade to an area far from the city centre…

…Anthropologist Milton Guran, who co-ordinates the bid to have Valongo recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site, thinks preservation is especially important because “we had successive attempts to erase this history”.

“Slavery finally started being perceived as something heinous and the Empire sought to obliterate that mark,” he says…

…The impact of slavery on Brazilian society can be seen to this day. Over half of Brazil’s population is black or mixed race, but its elite remains largely white…

Read the entire article here.

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Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present by Jeffrey Lesser (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Slavery on 2014-12-16 01:58Z by Steven

Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present by Jeffrey Lesser (review)

Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Volume 45, Number 3, Winter 2015
pages 449-451

Samuel L. Baily, Professor Emeritus of History
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Jeffrey Lesser, Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Lesser’s book is an ambitious, commendable effort to explain the complex evolving relationships between immigration, ethnicity, and national identity in Brazil since 1808. Over that period of time, 6 million immigrants entered Brazil. The large majority of them were of European descent—slightly fewer than one-third of them from both Portugal and Italy, 13 percent from Spain, and 4 percent from Germany. Non-Europeans comprised nearly 20 percent of the total—Japanese about 5 percent, and Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs, Chinese, Latin Americans, and Americans the remainder. The flow of each group varied in intensity over time. Most of the immigrants settled in the southern part of the country and in the state and city of Sao Paulo, but others spread into other areas as well. Lesser seeks to analyze the impact of migration both on the immigrants themselves and on the evolving meaning of Brazilian national identity.

As daunting a task as Lesser’s may seem, the topic is further complicated by the fact that approximately 30 percent of Brazil’s population at the time of its independence in 1822 were African Brazilians, who served as the primary workforce for the colonial economy. Thus, race became intimately linked to immigration, to ethnicity, and ultimately to definitions of national identity. Immigrants did not provide labor in Brazil alone; they did so in the United States as well. But conceptions of immigrants’ standing in these two societies differed considerably. The United States saw itself as the “promised land” where immigrants could immediately improve their prospects, whereas many of the people who constituted Brazil’s host society hoped that immigrants, by virtue of their physical and cultural presence, would gradually improve an imperfect nation by ameliorating its mixed racial composition. They adopted a “whiteness model” of development. Lesser correctly insists that immigration and national identity cannot be understood separately from the broader context of race.

The book includes many important statistical tables and interesting illustrations (postage stamps, postcards, maps, photos, magazine ads, and cartoons, among others). At the end of five of the six chapters are appended relevant short primary documents related to the topics that they discussed. The work also includes a useful, comprehensive historiographical essay on Brazilian immigration, ethnicity, and national identity, but also sufficient citations to facilitate comparisons with the United States, Argentina, and other New World countries that experienced major immigrations.

Lesser previously published three books on major aspects of his current subject—one about Jewish rnigration to Brazil, the second about negotiating national identity in Brazil, and the third about Japanese Brazilians. In the present volume, he builds skillfully on this foundation of primary data and analysis to deepen our understanding of these complex issues. He organizes his book in loose chronological order beginning with a chapter about Central European and Asian migration schemes (1822–1870), followed by chapters about mass European migration (1880–1920), Middle Eastern migration (Arabs and Jews) (1880–1940), and Asian migration (especially Japanese) (1900–1955). The epilogue focuses on the post–World War II period, bringing the story to the present day. All of these chapters examine the evolving patterns of national identity, but Chapter 4 is specifically focused on the creation of Euro-Brazilian identities.

Lesser’s book has much to offer to both specialists and general readers. His overview carries profound insights about the problems of national identity in Brazil and elsewhere. One of Lesser’s greatest contributions is his effective use of comparative methodology. He clearly delineates the similarities and differences between the specific European, Middle Eastern, and Asian groups within Brazil regarding such important matters as intermarriage with Afro-Brazilians, “whiteness,” the relationship with country of origin, et al. His revealing comparisons between Brazil, the United States, and Argentina provide an important international perspective on immigration and the evolution of national identity…

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Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2014-12-15 18:32Z by Steven

Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present

Cambridge University Press
January 2013
219 pages
19 b/w illus. 1 map 19 tables
229 x 153 x 14 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9780521193627
Paperback ISBN: 9780521145350
eBook ISBN: 9781139602723

Jeffrey Lesser, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Immigration, Ethnicity, and National Identity in Brazil, 1808 to the Present examines the immigration to Brazil of millions of Europeans, Asians, and Middle Easterners beginning in the nineteenth century. Jeffrey Lesser analyzes how these newcomers and their descendents adapted to their new country and how national identity was formed as they became Brazilians along with their children and grandchildren. Lesser argues that immigration cannot be divorced from broader patterns of Brazilian race relations, as most immigrants settled in the decades surrounding the final abolition of slavery in 1888 and their experiences were deeply conditioned by ideas of race and ethnicity formed long before their arrival. This broad exploration of the relationships between immigration, ethnicity, and nation allows for analysis of one of the most vexing areas of Brazilian study: identity.

  • Includes oral histories and primary documents so readers can get a sense of the voices of immigrants and those with whom immigrants interacted
  • Does not treat immigrants only as victims, unlike other immigration studies
  • Places immigrants within a broader context of racial and ethnic relations

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures, Tables, and Documents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: Creating Brazilians
  • Chapter 2: From Central Europe and Asia: Immigration Schemes, 1822–1870
  • Chapter 3: Mass Migrations, 1880–1920
  • Chapter 4: The Creation of Euro-Brazilian Identities
  • Chapter 5: How Arabs Became Jews, 1880–1940
  • Chapter 6: Asianizing Brazil: New Immigrants and New
  • Identities, 1900–1955
  • Epilogue: The Song Remains the Same
  • Historiographical Essay
  • Index
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Is Parental Love Colorblind? Human Capital Accumulation within Mixed Families

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Economics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-11-19 17:32Z by Steven

Is Parental Love Colorblind? Human Capital Accumulation within Mixed Families

The Review of Black Political Economy
2014-07-04
DOI: 10.1007/s12114-014-9190-1

Marcos A. Rangel, Assistant Professor
Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Studies have shown that differences in wage-determinant skills between blacks and whites emerge during a child’s infancy, highlighting the roles of parental characteristics and investment decisions. Exploring the genetics of skin-color and models of intrahousehold allocations, I present evidence that, controlling for observed and unobserved parental characteristics, light-skinned children are more likely to receive investments in formal education than their dark-skinned siblings. Conscious parental decisions regarding human capital acquisition for their children seem to contribute for the persistence of earnings differentials and socio-economic stratification in Brazil.

Read or purchase the article here.

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