Paradise Is a Faraway Land: Racial Representation, Hierarchy, and Conflicts in 20th-Century Brazil

AHA Session 269
Conference on Latin American History 59
Sunday, January 10, 2016: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Room A703 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level)
Elaine P. Rocha, University of the West Indies at Cave Hill
Nielson Bezerra, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro
Luciana Brito, Universidade de São Paulo
Ygor Rocha Cavalcante, Instituto Federal de Educacao, Ciencia e Tecnologia do Amazonas
Amilcar Pereira, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Session Abstract

Traditionally seen as the racial paradise of the Americas, Brazilian race relations are far from desirable as perceived racial hierarchies have created obstacles to Native and Afro-Brazilian in being fully recognized and participating in the socio-political and economic life of the country.   In this panel, Ygor Cavalcante discusses the phenomenon of the Xerimbabos, illegally enslaved indigenous and Black children who were traded for services in homes, business and farms in the Amazon state. This was a practice tolerated by the society in general that reflected the racial/economic hierarchy in the region and likewise perpetuated the system of enslavement. Luciana Brito discusses the overly sexualized representations of Afro-Brazilian women from the 19th century to present and analyses how these representations have been used by the contemporary tourist industry. Nielson Bezerra utilizes memories of Black families from the Greater Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area to discuss their trajectory from slavery and marginality and their struggle for education and social inclusion, while preserving their African roots and developing their cultural institutions like Candomblé and samba schools. Finally, Amilcar Pereira will comment on the papers presented emphasizing the struggles of Afro-Brazilians for political and economic inclusion during the 20th century. He will further examine the impact of the prevalent discourse of the imagined racial democracy of Brazil. 

The presentations provide a broader view of race relations in Brazil as well as discuss the representations of race and gender in 20th century Brazil, highlighting evidences from Amazonas, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro state, so to provide the public with information to compare and to understand the complexity of the issue. The target audience is historians, history teachers and students interested in Brazilian society and in race relations in the diaspora.

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