From Colour-Blindness to Recognition ?

Political Paths to New Identity Practices in Brazil and France

lundi 8 mars 2010, par Jessica Franklin, Karen Bird

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For decades, both France and Brazil officially denied the existence of race and, by extension, racism. France, with its republican and universalist normative framework, insisted on a political project of assimilative integration and non-differentiation among citizens in the public sphere. Race and ethnicity, in this regard, were not merely suspect but politically and normatively illegitimate categories. Despite the significant role of colonialization and immigration in modern French social history, the theme of ethnic and racial relations would remain taboo in both political discourse and social science research until the late-1990s. Brazil, on the other hand, constructed itself as a nation representing the idea of a “racial democracy.” In a progressive fashion since the abolition of slavery, racial mixing and harmonious racial relations became a central pillar of Brazilian democracy. They were held to be so amply developed as to provide no room for racial discrimination. Despite these official paradigms of colour-blindness, both France and Brazil have taken significant steps in recent years towards recognizing ethnic difference and combating structures of racist discrimination. This paper examines the emergence of the theme of race and ethnicity in public discourse and public policies in France and Brazil, looking at similarities and differences in the political pathways of transformation across the two countries.

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par Jessica Franklin, Karen Bird

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