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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Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2014-11-09 17:49Z by Steven

Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America

Duke University Press
April 2014
320 pages
4 photos, 2 tables, 6 figures
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5648-6
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-5659-2

Edited by:

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Carlos López Beltrán, Researcher
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, Coyoacán, México, D.F.

Eduardo Restrepo
Universidad Javeriana, Estudios Culturales

Ricardo Ventura Santos
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

In genetics laboratories in Latin America, scientists have been mapping the genomes of local populations, seeking to locate the genetic basis of complex diseases and to trace population histories. As part of their work, geneticists often calculate the European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry of populations. Some researchers explicitly connect their findings to questions of national identity and racial and ethnic difference, bringing their research to bear on issues of politics and identity.

Based on ethnographic research in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the contributors to Mestizo Genomics explore how the concepts of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into and are affected by genomic research. In Latin America, national identities are often based on ideas about mestizaje (race mixture), rather than racial division. Since mestizaje is said to involve relations between European men and indigenous or African women, gender is a key factor in Latin American genomics and the analyses in this book. Also important are links between contemporary genomics and recent moves toward official multiculturalism in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. One of the first studies of its kind, Mestizo Genomics sheds new light on the interrelations between “race,” identity, and genomics in Latin America.

Contributors: Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Vivette García Deister, Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto, Michael Kent, Carlos López Beltrán, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Eduardo Restrepo, Mariana Rios Sandoval, Ernesto Schwartz-Marín, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Peter Wade

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Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Economics, History, Mexico, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science on 2014-11-07 19:07Z by Steven

Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America

University of North Carolina Press
October 2014
320 pages
59 figs., 4 maps, 23 tables, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-1783-1

Edward E. Telles, Professor of Sociology
Princeton University

and

The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)
Princeton University

Pigmentocracies—the fruit of the multiyear Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA)—is a richly revealing analysis of contemporary attitudes toward ethnicity and race in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four of Latin America’s most populous nations. Based on extensive, original sociological and anthropological data generated by PERLA, this landmark study analyzes ethnoracial classification, inequality, and discrimination, as well as public opinion about Afro-descended and indigenous social movements and policies that foster greater social inclusiveness, all set within an ethnoracial history of each country. A once-in-a-generation examination of contemporary ethnicity, this book promises to contribute in significant ways to policymaking and public opinion in Latin America.

Edward Telles, PERLA’s principal investigator, explains that profound historical and political forces, including multiculturalism, have helped to shape the formation of ethnic identities and the nature of social relations within and across nations. One of Pigmentocracies’s many important conclusions is that unequal social and economic status is at least as much a function of skin color as of ethnoracial identification. Investigators also found high rates of discrimination by color and ethnicity widely reported by both targets and witnesses. Still, substantial support across countries was found for multicultural-affirmative policies—a notable result given that in much of modern Latin America race and ethnicity have been downplayed or ignored as key factors despite their importance for earlier nation-building.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA): Hard Data and What Is at Stake
  • 2. The Different Faces of Mestizaje: Ethnicity and Race in Mexico
  • 3. From Whitened Miscegenation to Triethnic Multiculturalism: Race and Ethnicity in Columbia
  • 4. ¿El pals de todas las sangres? Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Peru
  • 5. Mixed and Unequal: New Perspectives on Brazilian Ethnoracial Relations
  • 6. A Comparative Analysis of Ethnicity, Race, and Color Based on PERLA Findings
  • Notes
  • References
  • About the Authors
  • Index
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Discussing Race and Education in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-24 20:08Z by Steven

Discussing Race and Education in Brazil

HASTAC: Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory
2014-09-12

Christina Davidson
Department of History
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Yesterday at lunch, Maria Lúcia and I sat with a graduate of UFRRJ and an Educação a Distancia tutor for the university, who was headed to the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) in Niterói in the afternoon. The graduate student made a comment about the UFF campus, which caught my attention. “One thing, about UFF is that the students there are mostly white,” he said to me. “Look around you. Here you see that students are all mixed. There are every color, but at UFF they are mostly white.” I was somewhat surprised and to hear his thoughts on the subject of race. I had found it difficult to bring up this subject with students that I had talked with the day before, and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get Brazilians’ opinions about race and education.

“Why?” I asked. “Why is the student body more white there? I thought things in Brazil are changing.” He responded, “They are, but the UFF campus has always been that way. It is one of the largest public campuses in Rio and it is older. Even though things are changing, it is still noticeable that there are far more white students there.” I again asked why this is the case. The student explained that the area surrounding the university is one of the richest regions per capita of Rio de Janeiro. The people who live there have the money to send their students to private first and secondary educational institutions. These children are then better prepared to take the university’s entrance exam. So, it is not only that people who are richer (and whiter) have more access to the university because of their physical proximity, but they also have the best changes to be accepted to the school because of their educational background. “For these children, an outing is a trip outside of the country,” he commented. “For children of Baixada Fluminense, an outing is going to the park or to the beach. This same sort of divide is noted in the educational experiences between the people who have money and those who live here (Baixada Fluminense).”

Again, I was somewhat surprised by his comments. Yet this time, I was not taken aback by what he was saying, but because through my American eyes neither the student nor Maria Lucia look particularly “black.” In fact, as far as I could tell, they were white, yet they drew a distinction between themselves and other “white” students, especially those at UFF. Maria Lucia explained later that although by her skin color she considered herself white, but her whole culture—who she associated with, her socialization—was black. She said that her parents come from the northeast, a region with a high African-descended population and that her family was mixed. I pointed out, though, that even though people at UFRRJ are more mixed in their color and orientation than perhaps those at UFF, in Brazil people with the darkest skin color disproportionately represent the poorest people in the country. The other graduate student was quick to agree. “That is true,” he said. “That is very true.”  So, how then, do changes in the higher educational system help the darkest and poorest people?…

Read the entire article here.

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Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 19:25Z by Steven

Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Qualitative Sociology
March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1
pages 93-115
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9268-2

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 18:15Z by Steven

Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 10 / Issue 01 / Spring 2013
pages 179-203
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X13000118

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

As people who cross racial boundaries in the family formation process, the experiences of interracial couples can actually reveal the nature of racial boundaries within and across societies. I draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with eighty-seven respondents in interracial Black and White couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to compare perceptions of public stigmatization by outsiders, a term I call “boundary-policing.” I find that couples in Los Angeles perceive gendered, Black individuals as perpetrators of this boundary-policing. In Rio de Janeiro, couples perceive regionalized and classed, White perpetrators. These findings suggest that in the United States and Brazil, racial boundaries are intertwined with class and gender boundaries to shape negotiation of boundary-policing in the two contexts. This analysis builds on previous studies of ethnoracial boundaries by showing how individuals reinforce and negotiate them through interpersonal relations. It demonstrates the similarities and differences in the negotiation and reinforcement of racial boundaries in the two sites.

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Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-15 19:39Z by Steven

Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, Issue 10, 2013
Special Issue: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
pages 1490-1506
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.783926

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In Latin America, whitening is understood as a goal of darker-skinned individuals who marry whites to gain access to white social circles, increase their social status, and produce lighter offspring. However, in Brazil, increasing black consciousness and race-based policies are seemingly at odds with contemporary attempts to whiten. Drawing on qualitative interviews with forty-nine individuals in black–white couples, I examine how they make sense of whitening in their lives. I find that unlike in the past, respondents do not describe themselves engaged in whitening and either find it offensive or recognize admissions of whitening as stigmatized. Nevertheless, whitening is how friends, families and other outsiders give meaning to their relationships, depending on the gender of the respondent. In addition, I find evidence of some white women understanding their relationships as a way of darkening themselves. This study reveals a transformation in the meanings associated with whitening ideology in contemporary Brazil.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-03 20:10Z by Steven

Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Reuters
2014-10-03

Brian Winter, Chief Correspondent

SAO PAULO – Brazilians could make history this month by electing Marina Silva, the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers from the Amazon, as their first black president.

Yet Silva is trailing incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, who is white, among the half of voters who are of African descent.

That disadvantage, which contrasts with U.S. President Barack Obama’s overwhelming support from African-Americans in the 2008 and 2012 elections, could cost Silva victory in this extremely close election.

The reasons behind Silva’s struggles speak volumes about Brazil’s history, its complex relationship with race, and the recent social progress that has made Rousseff a slight favorite to win a second term despite a stagnant economy.

In recent weeks, Reuters interviewed two dozen Brazilians of color in three different cities. Many said they would be proud to see Silva win – especially in a country where people of color have historically been underrepresented in government, universities and elsewhere.

Yet they also said they were more focused on the economy than any other factor. Since taking power in 2003, Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party has made enormous strides in reducing poverty – especially among blacks.

“No one wants to go back to the past,” said Gustavo Leira, 71, a retired public servant in Brasilia. Silva’s race is important, he said, “but it’s not the most important thing.”…

…In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of the African-American vote. That advantage, plus his support from two-thirds of Hispanic voters, helped him overcome a 12 percentage point deficit among white voters. The margins were broadly similar when Obama won re-election in 2012.

While Obama did not make race a theme of his campaigns, he did address it at key moments – including a famous speech in March 2008 in which he discussed the anger felt by many in the black community, and what it was like to be the son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya.

Silva also comes from a mixed racial background – just like many, if not most, Brazilians…

Read the entire article here.

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