Past Event

Juan Sebastián Gil-Riaño - Southern Racial Dilemmas: Brazilian Race Relations and Economic Development in the 1950s

January 27, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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Event Description: 

This talk examines the development of race relations research in Brazil and the Global South. In the 1940s, Brazil appeared as an exemplar of racial harmony to race relations researchers from Chicago like Donald Pierson and Robert Park. Yet after UNESCO sponsored cycle of studies from the early 1950s, Brazilian researchers, notably the historical sociologist Florestan Fernandes, discarded this thesis and instead began to document and describe Brazil's unique racial dilemma. Echoing Gunner Myrdal’s American Dilemma (1944), Fernandes described the existence of a distinctly Brazilian racial ideology in which whites clung to the "prejudice of having no prejudice." Yet instead of looking for the psychological causes of this distinctly Brazilian racial ideology, Fernandes described it as a product of a historical process of economic development or "bourgeois revolution" that began with the abolition of slavery at the end of the 19th century yet systematically excluded Afro-Brazilians from participating in the nascent industrial economy of the 1950s. In contrast to mainstream race relations of the North Atlantic which embraced individualist approaches rooted in psychology, Brazilian race relations research from the 1950s thus favored systemic and structural approaches to understanding racism.

Event Speaker

Sebastián Gil-Riaño, Assistant Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania

Event Information: 

This event is free and open to the public, RSVP is required. Please contact [email protected] with any questions. 

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:

  • The University Seminars at Columbia University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences