Brazilian National Identity at a Crossroads: The Myth of Racial Democracy and the Development of Black Identity

  • Leone Campos de Sousa
  • Paulo Nascimento


This article aims at coping with the 2003 implementation of affirmative action policies favoring blacks and “browns” in public-funded universities in Brazil. We are especially interested in coming to terms with some of the most resounding controversies over this type of “race”-based policy, which in our view are to be seen as reactions to some core aspects of Brazil’s national identity. The key question that has pervaded this debate is: Should the State apparatus, by means of these non-universalist policies, foster racial identities in a society that has historically imagined itself as racially mixed and, as such, able to deal with race-based conflicts in a quite positive way? As we will strive to demonstrate, these controversies gained momentum as multiculturalism started to inform identity-oriented social movements, which in recent years excelled in challenging the image of Brazil as a successful case of a melting-pot society by denouncing deep-seated social inequalities grounded in racial lines. We want to investigate whether popular resistance to race-based public policies will propel the rise of a sort of resented form of nationalism in Brazil’s public scene.

Key words

Brazilian politics Affirmative action Brazilian national identity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherBrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of Political ScienceUniversity of Brasilia (UnB)BrasíliaBrazil

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