The Dictionary of Contemporary Ethnic-Racial Relations, recently launched by Editora Perspectiva and organized by professors Marcio André dos Santos, from the University of International Integration of Afro-Brazilian Lusofonia (Unilab), Alex Ratts, from the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), Flávia Rios, from the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), was already born as a reference and pioneering work. This is because the work aims to have Brazilian and Latin American specialists exclusively belonging to the most historically and socially discriminated groups (blacks, women, indigenous people, Jews), addressing discrimination, racism and ethnic relations in our country, through of 53 entries that cover a wide spectrum of themes, from Afrocentricity to Xenophobia, including the black movement, feminism, genocide, black culture, Islamophobia, yellow peril, etc.
In addition to Marcio Santos in the organization, the book also features the participation of professor Dr. Vera Rodrigues, from the Ceará campus, who collaborated with the entry Identity, and on the Bahia campus it had the collaboration of professors Dras. Cristiane Souza, who wrote the entry Cultura Negra, in partnership with Jucelia Ribeiro; and Maria Soares, who writes the entry Colorismo
The idea to write this reference book arose, according to Santos, “from the organizers’ concern about having an easy-to-read publication in the Brazilian publishing market on the main concepts and ideas in the field of studies of ethnic-racial relations. There are other dictionaries of this type, but they are generally thought of from a global north perspective. Our dictionary more directly reflects the dilemmas and challenges about race and ethnicity in Latin American countries.”
To achieve this significant result, the first task was, according to the organizers, to think about which entries should be included. “After much reflection, we decided to select around 50 entries considered the most important. Once this was done, we started inviting colleagues from different Brazilian universities and abroad to write them. Luckily for us, the vast majority agreed to participate in the project, says Santos, also highlighting the issue of representation: “It is important to highlight that the invitations took into account gender, race, ethnicity and region. The result is that we have a well-represented dictionary, written by black women, indigenous people, Jews and white people throughout Brazil.”
In this way, the entries result from research carried out by collaborators over many decades.
The entire work, from idea to publication, took around three years. This represented a significant amount of time for each person to calmly write their entry. The fact was also taken into account that the entry should be original and written in a way that makes it easier to read by people who are not academics.
There is still no set date for the launch of the work in fields from Unilab. In turn, Santos guarantees that this will happen soon. “We are planning a launch at Unilab in Ceará and another in Bahia, on the Malês campus. We are finalizing dates and composition of tables. On the Ceará campus, colleague Vera Rodrigues contributed to the entry Identity. And on the Bahia campus, we had two collaborations: colleague Cristiane Santos Souza wrote the entry Cultura Negra in partnership with Jucelia Bispo Ribeiro; and colleague Maria Andrea Soares wrote the entry Colorismo.”
As the book includes organizers and collaborators from different locations in Brazil, the idea is to have launches in several cities. “The more we can publicize this work, the better. The dictionary is really very good. Anyone who can have access will agree with me”, guarantees Santos.
What are dictionaries for?
Professor Kabengele Munanga explains: “I believe they serve to meet the needs of communications that require words, terms, concepts and typologies that are used in various forms of language, spoken and written. However, these sets in use for the need for communication are not natural, as they are conventional and invented in different spatial and historical contexts. They have an ethnosemantic dimension. In other words, they were coined from some geographic spaces before spreading in the night of time. In this diffusion, they came into contact with other cultures and took on other meanings and meanings different from those they had at the starting point. Therefore, many of the concepts and words we use on a daily basis can be polysemic. In this sense, sometimes people do not understand each other when using the same word with different meanings without at all defining what they understand by them. Which harms communication and can even create conflicts.”
About the Organizers of the Work
Marcio André dos Santos
Adjunct professor at the University of International Integration of Afro-Brazilian Lusofonia – UNILAB, Campus dos Malês/BA and works on undergraduate courses in Humanities and Degree in Social Sciences, of which he is the current coordinator. He has a PhD in Political Science from the Institute of Social and Political Studies (IESP / UERJ), with a sandwich internship at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States. He is a contributing professor at the Multidisciplinary Postgraduate Program in Ethnic and African Studies (POSAFRO) at the Federal University of Bahia.
PhD in Social Anthropology from USP and professor at UFG in undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Geography and postgraduate courses in Anthropology. Coordinator of the Laboratory of Gender, Ethnic-Racial and Spatial Studies at the Institute of Socio-Environmental Studies at UFG, participates in the Space and Difference Network (RED) and the Ibero-Latin American Geography, Gender and Sexuality Studies Network (REGGSILA).
Flávia M. Rios
PhD in Sociology from USP, she is a professor at UFF, where she was coordinator of the Social Sciences – Bachelor’s degree course. She was also a visiting student researcher collaborator at Princeton. She was part of the teaching staff at UFG, where she coordinated Pibid-Ciências Sociais. She is currently coordinator of the Guerreiro Ramos Studies Center (Negra – UFF) and is part of the Postgraduate Program in Sociology (PPGS) and the scientific committees of Afro/Cebrap and the project “Companies’ Responsibilities for Rights Violations During Dictatorship” (CAAF/Unifesp).
Excerpts from the work:
DESCENDANTS: […] as a region, Latin America has always been crucial in shaping the identities and politics of the African diaspora. Beating this drum, the attitude of coining the term “Afro-descendant” as a political identity in the late 1980s in the region and its adoption as a key category of the decade of Afro-descendants, a category declared by the United Nations, reveals the growing global significance of political perspectives and epistemic aspects of Afro-Latin Americans. [Augustin Lao-Montes]
Black Consciousness: In Brazil, particularly, the concept of black consciousness began to become more widespread following the proposition presented by the Palmares Group of Rio Grande do Sul, in 1971, to the group of black Brazilian activists. The idea consisted of a large mobilization so that November 20th, the official date of Zumbi’s death, would be recognized as National Black Consciousness Day, in memory and recognition of the greatest leader of Quilombo dos Palmares and the Palmares struggle. From an ideological perspective, that attitude was in contrast to the celebrations of May 13th, Slavery Abolition Day, widely honored by officials, in a clear exercise in silencing the black abolitionist struggle. The gesture of the black collective from Rio Grande do Sul, led by the poet Oliveira Silveira, soon gained support. [Nelson Inocêncio Silva]
Discrimination: During the military dictatorship, while the black population suffered selective repression from penal agencies and black movements were persecuted for their subversive potential, military governments sought to cultivate the country’s image internationally as a racial democracy, in contrast to the regime of apartheid from South Africa. [Marta Machado]
Intolerance and Religious Racism: […] Afro-Brazilian religiosities were once again heavily stigmatized and persecuted, this time by neo-Pentecostal churches that set themselves the mission of combating the presence of evil on earth, identifying this evil preferably in terreiro religious communities. Needless to say, as the terreiro was initially formed by black groups and is one of the main bastions in maintaining African cultural heritage in Brazil (language, clothing, cuisine, cosmology, musicality, etc.), once again we see discrimination and prejudice in action, now in the form of religious racism. [Vagner Gonçalves da Silva]
Black Women’s Movement: […] the black women’s movement was asserting itself as the result of experiences of social struggles led by institutionalized and independent organizations, which faced conflicts both within leftist movements and in black organizations, given that the issues highlighted by women, such as the division of tasks into that some of these would “naturally” belong to men or women and the debates on reproductive rights were considered minor and divisive. [Viviane Gonçalves Freitas].
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