"Racism In Our Own Backyard: Black Movements, Antiracist Policy and Changing Racial Discourse in Brazil"
Speaker: Tianna Paschel, University of California – Berkeley
The late 1990s marked a political shift in Brazil with the adoption of a number of racial equality policies including affirmative action, and increased mobilization by the country’s black movement. Recently, scholars have suggested that these political changes may be having a broader impact on Brazilian society in everything from racial discourse to public opinion, popular representation to racial identity itself. While there is a palpable feeling among researchers of such cultural change, there is still little systematic analyses that make these linkages. In this article, I deploy a novel dataset of articles from two of Brazil’s widest circulating newspapers and one magazine to ask the following questions: 1) Has discourse around race shifted in the media in Brazil over the last few decades? and 2) What, if any, effect has the recent politicization of race had on media discourse? Using both content and discourse analysis, I show how discussions of racism have not only increased dramatically over time across all three media sources, but also the nature of therse discussions have radically shifted in two ways. Whereas earlier news coverage tended to fetichize racism in countries outside of Brazil, by the late 1990s, newspapers began to look inward, with more and more debating the unique racial issues facing Brazilian society. Additionally, just as Brazil became more prominent in the news coverage, more structural accounts of racism began to displace newspaper discourse that discussed racism as psychological or individual phenomenon. I argue that these changes are directly linked to the intensification of black mobilization and the adoption of antiracist policies in the 1990s-2000s; upticks in coverage across the four decades and across newspapers often mapped directly onto strategic action by black activists, or on racial equality policies. I end by suggesting that this case offers insight into how we understand racial ideology and changes over time.
Tianna Paschel is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Sociology at the University of California – Berkeley. She is interested in the intersection of racial ideology, politics, and globalization in Latin America. Her work can be found in the American Journal of Sociology, the Du Bois Review, SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, and Ethnic and Racial Studies and various edited volumes. She is also the author of Becoming Black Political Subjects, which draws on ethnographic and archival methods to explore the shift in the 1990s from ideas of unmarked universal citizenship to multicultural citizenship regimes and the recognition of specific rights for black populations by Latin American states. It is the winner of numerous awards including the Herbert Jacob Book Award of the Law and Society Association and the Barrington Moore Book Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA). Professor Paschel is also the co-editor – along with Petra Rivera-Rideau and Jennifer Jones – of Afro-Latin@s in Movement, an interdisciplinary volume that explores transnationalism and blackness in the Americas.
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