Teaching Indigenous, African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture in Rio de Janeiro: Claiming indigeneity and becoming black
(University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
What role does claiming a specific racial identification play in the implementation process of Indigenous, African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture in Brazilian educational institutions? This paper explores a group of teachers' concepts of whiteness, becoming black and claiming indigeneity.
Paper long abstract:
As part of a wider body of affirmative action targeting racial inequality, Brazil introduced Law 10.639 in 2003, which obliges every school to teach African, Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous history and culture. Representatives of the Indigenous and Black movements see the reform as an important step towards the deconstruction of the 'racial democracy'-myth and the reparation of injustices caused by the country's colonial history, slavery and its branqueamento politics. Although the teaching of African, Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous culture and history is a legal obligation, it has been widely met with neglect, if not active resistance. What this paper aims to explore are teachers' motivations to implement the law and the role racial identification plays in this process. My research took me to the impoverished metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, Baixada Fluminense, where the majority of the population declares itself as "mixed race" (pardo) and "black" (preto). Students and teachers do not only have to manoeuvre through the complexity of race and class relations, but constantly face discrimination because of their place of residence. What the supporters of the law's implementation have in common is their recognition of the existence of racial discrimination in Brazil and the prevalence of post-(neo-)colonial inequality, as opposed to the widespread narrative of meritocracy and mestiçagem. More often than not, their work goes beyond the will to comply with legislation, and is strongly connected to political activism and a personal process of assuming/claiming - and thus moving to - a certain racial/ethnic identity.
Moving across racialised boundaries - settling in mixedness? Dialogues in critical mixedness studies [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]