Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Brazil Initiative

Tiffany Joseph - Race, Migration, and the Transnational Racial Optic

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.

Brazil once earned a global reputation as a racial paradise, and the United States is infamous for its overt social exclusion of nonwhites. Yet, given the growing Latino and multiracial populations in the United States, the use of quotas to address racial inequality in Brazil, and the flows of people between each country, contemporary race relations in each place are starting to resemble each other. Relying on interviews conducted with residents of Governador Valadares, Brazil's largest immigrant-sending city to the U.S., this talk examines how Brazil-U.S. migration is changing Brazilians' understanding of race relations in each place. I identify and examine a phenomenon—the transnational racial optic—through which migrants develop and ascribe social meaning to race in one country by incorporating conceptions of race from the other. Analyzing the bi-directional exchange of racial ideals through the experiences of migrants, I offer an innovative framework for understanding how race can be remade in immigrant-sending communities.