Inclusion Policies and the Future of Racial Relations in Brazil

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Valter SILVÉRIO, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Brazil
Antonio GUIMARAES, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil
After the adoption of a new Constitution in 1988, race related issues have been transposed from the private to the public sphere. Affirmative action for blacks, native Brazilians, and the poor have been spread all over the country, and a Federal Affirmative Action statute and program was created. The Statute for Racial Equality was voted into law in Congress and Federal Education Guidelines were altered to include obligatory teaching on race relations, black Brazilian culture, and African history throughout basic education. Besides being a major symbolic break  through, these new policies combined have the potential to lower the levels of racial inequality and discrimination that have plagued the country throughout its history.

            Nonetheless, this whole process has not been devoid of tensions and contradictions. For example, if the recognition of a black identity put into question the narrative of miscegenation and racial harmony that underpinned Brazil’s national identity for decades. It also challenges sociologists to make sense of these ongoing changes in public policy and of the role of the State in fighting inequality and fostering identity formation. Given that scenario, a central question organizing this panel is: How societies with a history of structural inequality and racial domination can evolve toward a more equal stand and mutual recognition among social groups? Answering this question implies discussing the possible paths opened to improving the status and standing of individuals and groups in a context in which the ideology of racial democracy (or similar national narratives) still holds sway in the minds of many people, including the local elites.

            The roundtable aims at addressing the above question from different perspectives, looking into the Brazilian and Latin America current debates and paying attention to the transformations and new challenges faced by these societies.