Race in Latin America

I investigate race and racism in Brazil and Latin America, with a focus on the African Diaspora broadly defined. I explore this research agenda across three core interrelated arenas: the racial politics of asylum; the forms and consequences of anti-black racism; and race and the state.

The Racial Politics of Safe Haven in Brazil

In my book project, I investigate the racial project of refugee status determination in Brazil. While race scholars have done much work on immigration policies, they have paid less attention to asylum and refugee policies. Moreover, most research on race and immigration in Brazil has been historical. How race operates in immigration policy in contemporary Brazil remains largely unaddressed. This work documents how state and nongovernmental actors mobilize and produce racial categories as they interact with asylum seekers and determine the allocation of rights, aid, and sanctions, and with what consequences for racial hierarchies.

The Forms and Consequences of Anti-Black Racism in Brazil

In my article “Black Brazil Never Slept,” published in Contexts, I analyze media coverage of the 2013 protests in Brazil, uncovering that violence against white women became a rallying cry for popular political action, while black mobilization was depoliticized as violent chaos and violence against blacks ignored.

In an invited chapter for an edited volume on the Chicago School, I present Donald Pierson’s Negroes in Brazil (1942) as a cautionary tale of how racial pre-constructed objects of inquiry can overdetermine our findings. I argue that the theoretical frameworks Pierson brought with him to the field—namely, Robert E. Park’s race relations and Gilberto Freyre’s racial democracy—blinded him from grasping conceptually the anti-blackness he documents empirically in his work.

Race and the State in Argentina

My Master’s thesis is titled “Framing Afrodescendants in a Country ‘Donde No Hay Negros’: A Critical Analysis of the 2010 Argentine Census Survey of African Descent.” In 2010, for the first time since 1895, the Argentine census asked those living within its national territory if they were of African descent. While the inclusion of this question followed broader regional shifts to integrate questions on race and ethnicity into national censuses, this historic disjuncture is most astounding in Argentina. No country in Latin America has more successfully constructed itself as a nation donde no hay negros, where there are no blacks, than Argentina. Through a frame analysis of digital texts produced in Argentina between 2010 and 2012 regarding the new census question, this thesis uncovers how government, media and Afro organizational actors understood the meaning of Afrodescendant and the purposes of the census question. This research expands research on the African diaspora in the Americas by analyzing how racial politics of identification work in a paradigmatic nation-state of hegemonic whiteness in Latin America.