Brazil and Colombia: Comparative Race Relations in South America


in Racism and Ethnic Relations in the Portuguese-Speaking World

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265246
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754197 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Brazil and Colombia: Comparative Race Relations in South America

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  • Colonialism and Imperialism


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This chapter focuses on Brazil and Colombia in the context of the official multiculturalism adopted by both countries. It looks primarily at ‘blackness’, but necessarily also makes reference to the category ‘indigenous’, as this is an inherent part of the processes by which identities come to be defined, claimed and contested. The text shows how blackness in each country oscillated between ‘ethnic’ and ‘racialised’ definitions, both from an official and from a social movement point of view, and how oscillation was related to different contexts and political conjunctures. In Colombia, there was a move between 1991 and 2009 from a very ‘ethnic’ definition towards a more explicitly ‘racialised’ one; while in Brazil, we can see a move from a pre-1988 racial definition towards a more ethnic one, which however coexists with the more racial emphasis. These are not opposed trajectories, but variations on a theme of changing, overlapping and often conflicting definitions.

Keywords: multiculturalism; Latin America; ethnicity; race; indigenous; blackness; politics

Chapter.  6820 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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