Roundtable Whose Racial Democracy? Changing Representations of Race in Brazil, 1950–2000

AHA Session 188
Conference on Latin American History 44
Saturday, January 7, 2012: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Huron Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Bryan McCann, Georgetown University
Developing the Race
Anadelia A. Romo, Texas State University at San Marcos
Jerry Dávila, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Session Abstract

Since the publication of Gilberto Freyre’s influential piece The Masters and the Slaves in 1933, the meaning of the Brazilian nation has been undoubtedly tied to the public understanding(s) of its racial relations. While there have been many historical studies on the convergence of race and politics during twentieth-century Brazil and the uses and multiple meanings of racial democracy, few historical studies have explored the diverse ways in which that very concept became the stage of political and ideological battles between the state, political parties, intellectuals, artists, and social movements.

This panel seeks to address the complex and contradictory notions of racial democracy that emerged during the second half of twentieth-century Brazil. It intends to analyze the rhetoric, symbols, and practices of multiple actors in a moment of turmoil and cultural and political radicalization. By focusing on film, popular culture, social and political movements, as well as on intellectuals in regional, national, and transnational settings, we aim to grasp the process by which Brazilians defined the very meanings and singularities of their racial relations’ past and present.

This approach will allow us to establish a bridge between politics, culture, and representation on race, intending to establish a better and more complex understanding of the Cold War era, when race and racial relations became a crucial social construct. Additionally, we want to discuss how the ideas of progress, modernity, radical politics, development, and thirldworldism shaped racial conceptions during this period.

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