G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb. [Gledson Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-07-27 16:59Z by Steven

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb. [Gledson Review]

Journal of Latin American Studies
Volume 47 / Issue 03 / August 2015
pages 607-608
DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X15000528

John Gledson, Emeritus Professor of Brazilian Studies
University of Liverpool

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb.

Increasingly, over the last 10 or 20 years, critics have taken an interest in Machado de Assis’s racial origins, and in the effect they may have had on his career, his opinions and his writings. We know that he was the child of a father described as ‘pardo, forro’, and a Portuguese mother, from the Azores. In 2007, Eduardo de Assis Duarte published his Machado de Assis afrodescendente, which documents most of the references to the matter, and more generally to slavery and its effects, in the works, novels, stories crônicas, and so on.

It is a complex topic: we have little or no unambiguous evidence of what this most ironic and secretive writer thought about the colour of his skin, though we can have little doubt that he would have smiled with a certain amount of bitterness (and who knows, some perverse satisfaction) at the description of his colour as ‘branco’ on his death certificate.

G. Reginald Daniel’s book is certainly the longest treatment of the subject, and perhaps the most comprehensive. A great deal is given over to discussions of the contexts, historical and theoretical, which surround it. The first chapter deals with the history of miscegenation in Brazil since 1500, the second with other mulatto writers before Machado and contemporary with him (Caldas Barbosa, Luís Gama, José do Patrocínio, Lima Barreto); in the third Machado’s life is recounted in some detail. It is a faithful account, though with some mistakes. Machado did not translate Oliver Twist from English, as Jean-Michel Massa proved, nor is it necessarily true that he suffered from epilepsy all his life. The first of two stories entitled ‘Mariana’ is twice given the date 1864, instead of 1871 (the year of the Law of the Free Womb). There is no series of crônicas entitled Crônicas do relojoeiro signed ‘Policarpo’. José Galante de Sousa’s Bibliografia de Machado de Assis is, astonishingly, missing from the very extensive bibliography. Some important and relatively unknown facts, however, are there, like Gonçalves Crespo’s 1871 hesitant letter saying he has heard he is an ‘homem de cor’. Large parts of the later chapters are given over to accounts of other writers (Graça Aranha, for instance, and Euclides da Cunha) and other issues which sometimes have no real connection to Machado (negritude, for instance)…

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Rethinking Race in Brazil

Posted in Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-08-21 00:45Z by Steven

Rethinking Race in Brazil

Journal of Latin American Studies
Volume 24, Number 1 (February, 1992)
pages 173-192

Howard Winant, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Introduction: the Repudiation of the Centenário

13 May 1988 was the 100th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. In honour of that date, various official celebrations and commemorations of the centenário, organised by the Brazilian government, church groups and cultural organisations, took place throughout the country, even including a speech by President José Sarney.

This celebration of the emancipation was not, however, universal. Many Afro-Brazilian groups staged actions and marches, issued denunciations and organised cultural events repudiating the ‘farce of abolition’. These were unprecedented efforts to draw national and international attention to the extensive racial inequality and discrimination which Brazilian blacks – by far the largest concentration of people of African descent in any country in the western hemisphere – continue to confront. Particular interventions had such titles as ‘100 Years of Lies’, ‘One Hundred Years Without Abolition’, ‘March for the Real Liberation of the Race’, ‘Symbolic Burial of the 13th of May’, ‘March in Protest of the Farce of Abolition’, and ‘Discommemoration (Descomemoração) of the Centenary of Abolition’. The repudiation of the centenário suggests that Brazilian racial dynamics, traditionally quiescent, are emerging with the rest of society from the extended twilight of military dictatorship. Racial conflict and mobilisation, long almost entirely absent from the Brazilian scene, are reappearing. New racial patterns and processes – political, cultural, economic, social and psychological — are emerging, while racial inequalities of course continue as well. How much do we know about race in contemporary Brazil? How effectively does the extensive literature explain the present situation?

In this article the main theories of race in Brazil are critically reviewed in the light of contemporary racial politics. I focus largely on postwar Brazilian racial theory, beginning with the pioneering UNESCO studies. This body of theory has exhibited considerable strengths in the past: it has been particularly effective in dismantling the myth of a non-racist national culture, in which ‘racial democracy’ flourished, and in challenging the role of various elites in maintaining these myths. These achievements, appreciable in the context of the analytical horizon imposed on critical social science by an anti-democratic (and indeed often dictatorial and brutal) regime, now exhibit some serious inadequacies when employed to explain current developments.

This article accepts many of the insights of the existing literature but rejects its limitations. Such a reinterpretation, I argue, sets the stage for a new approach, based on racial formation theory. This theory is outlined below, and it is suggested that it offers a more accurate view of the changing racial order in contemporary Brazil. Racial formation theory can respond both to ongoing racial inequalities and to the persistence of racial difference, as well as the new possibilities opened up by the transition to democracy; it can do this in ways in which the established approaches, despite their considerable merits, cannot…

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Seeing Like Citizens: Unofficial Understandings of Official Racial Categories in a Brazilian University

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-05-17 23:50Z by Steven

Seeing Like Citizens: Unofficial Understandings of Official Racial Categories in a Brazilian University

Journal of Latin American Studies
Number 41 (2009)
pages 221–250
DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X09005550

Luisa Farah Schwartzman, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Toronto

This paper investigates how students at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), one of the first Brazilian universities to adopt race-based quotas for admissions, interpret racial categories used as eligibility criteria. Considering the perspectives of students is important to understand the workings of affirmative action policies because UERJ’s quotas require applicants to classify themselves. Students’ interpretations of those categories often diverge from the interpretations intended by people who shaped the policy. Students’ perspectives are formed by everyday experiences with categorisation and by their self-assessment as legitimate beneficiaries of quotas. In contrast, the policies were designed according to a new racial project, where black consciousness-raising and statistics played an important role.

Brazil has a long history of discrimination based on skin colour and a well documented association between people’s racial category and their access toresources, patterns of socialisation and family formation. At the same time, recently implemented affirmative action policies, designed to address these social injustices, have generated a heated debate over whether it is possible (or appropriate) for such policies to rely on racial classification. Some commentators claim that accurate categorisation is impossible in Brazil because Brazilians are a mixed-race people with no clear racial boundaries. Others suggest that classification is difficult due to ‘fraud’: people can dishonestly declare their racial category in order to benefit from the policy. This paper argues that indeed potential policy beneficiaries often classify themselves differently from how policymakers and advocates would expect them to, but not simply for the above-mentioned reasons. More importantly, there is mismatch between the worldviews and knowledge that policy beneficiaries (those who are able to define whether official categories apply to themselves) and policy designers (who have determined or influenced the shaping of the policies) bring with them when considering the appropriate rules for classifying people for affirmative action purposes…

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Rethinking Mestizaje: Ideology and Lived Experience

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science on 2010-01-20 20:36Z by Steven

Rethinking Mestizaje: Ideology and Lived Experience

Journal of Latin American Studies
Number 37, Issue 2
Pages 239–257
DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X05008990

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

The ideology of mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America has frequently been seen as involving a process of national homogenisation and of hiding a reality of racist exclusion behind a mask of inclusiveness. This view is challenged here through the argument that mestizaje inherently implies a permanent dimension of national differentiation and that, while exclusion undoubtedly exists in practice, inclusion is more than simply a mask. Case studies drawn from Colombian popular music, Venezuelan popular religion and Brazilian popular Christianity are used to illustrate these arguments, wherein inclusion is understood as a process linked to embodied identities and kinship relations. In a coda, approaches to hybridity that highlight its potential for destabilising essentialisms are analysed.

Rethinking mestizaje as embodied experience

This article explores a key concept in the complex of ideas around race, nation and multiculturalism in Latin America, that of mestizaje – essentially the notion of racial and cultural mixture. I address mestizaje not just as a nation-building ideology – which has been the principal focus of scholarship on the issue, but also as a lived process that operates within the embodied person and within networks of family and kinship relationships. I consider how people live the process of racial-cultural mixture through musical change, as racially identified styles of popular music enter into their performing bodies, awakening or engendering potentialities in them; through religious practice, as racialised deities possess them and energise a dynamic and productive embodied diversity ; and through family relationships, as people enter into sexual and procreative relations with others identified as racially-culturally different, to produce ‘mixed’ children.

This approach emphasises the ways in which mestizaje as a lived process, which encompasses, but is not limited to, ideology, involves the maintenance of enduring spaces for racial-cultural difference alongside spaces of sameness and homogeneity. Scholars have recognised that mestizaje does not have a single meaning within the Latin American context, and contains within it tensions between sameness and difference, and between inclusion and exclusion.  Yet a scholarly concern with mestizaje as ideology has tended to privilege two assumptions: first, that nationalist ideologies of mestizaje are essentially about the creation of a homogeneous mestizo (mixed) future, which are then opposed to subaltern constructions of the nation as racially culturally diverse ; and second, that mestizaje as a nationalist ideology appears to be an inclusive process, in that everyone is eligible to become a mestizo, but in reality it is exclusive because it marginalises blackness and indigenousness, while valuing whiteness…

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Are Mestizos Hybrids? The Conceptual Politics of Andean Identities

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Social Science on 2009-12-12 00:35Z by Steven

Are Mestizos Hybrids? The Conceptual Politics of Andean Identities

Journal of Latin American Studies
Volume 37, Issue 02
May 2005
pp 259-284
DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X05009004

Marisol de la Cadena, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of California, Davis

Through a genealogical analysis of the terms mestizo and mestizaje, this article reveals that these voices are doubly hybrid. On the one hand they house an empirical hybridity, built upon eighteenth and nineteenth century racial taxonomies and according to which ‘mestizos’ are non-indigenous individuals, the result of biological or cultural mixtures. Yet, mestizos’ genealogy starts earlier, when ‘mixture’ denoted transgression of the rule of faith, and its statutes of purity. Within this taxonomic regime mestizos could be, at the same time, indigenous. Apparently dominant, racial theories sustained by scientific knowledge mixed with, (rather than cancel) previous faith based racial taxonomies. ‘Mestizo’ thus houses a conceptual hybridity – the mixture of two classificatory regimes – which reveals subordinate alternatives for mestizo subject positions, including forms of indigeneity.

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