After decades of denying racism and underplaying cultural diversity, Latin American states began adopting transformative ethno-racial legislation in the late 1980s. In addition to symbolic recognition of indigenous peoples and black populations, governments in the region created a more pluralistic model of citizenship and made significant reforms in the areas of land, health, education, and development policy. Becoming Black Political Subjects explores this shift from color blindness to ethno-racial legislation in two of the most important cases in the region: Colombia and Brazil.
Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, Tianna Paschel shows how, over a short period, black movements and their claims went from being marginalized to become institutionalized into the law, state bureaucracies, and mainstream politics. The strategic actions of a small group of black activists—working in the context of domestic unrest and the international community's growing interest in ethno-racial issues—successfully brought about change. Paschel also examines the consequences of these reforms, including the institutionalization of certain ideas of blackness, the reconfiguration of black movement organizations, and the unmaking of black rights in the face of reactionary movements.
Becoming Black Political Subjects offers important insights into the changing landscape of race and Latin American politics and provokes readers to adopt a more transnational and flexible understanding of social movements.
Tianna S. Paschel is assistant professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Tianna S. Paschel has written a beautiful book all around. All chapters are beautifully written and edited; the arguments and insights presented are thoughtful and highly relevant, testifying to Paschel's intimate knowledge of the racial politics in both countries studies and to the eight years of research she conducted for this book. Everything comes together to form an impressive, informative, and well-researched academic book. . . . Becoming Black Political Subjects is certainly a must-read for anybody studying racial politics and social movements in Brazil, Colombia, or the Americas more broadly."--Bernd Reiter, Perspectives on Politics
"Documenting the shift towards ethno-racial reforms in two countries seems an ambitious task, but it is exceptionally well taken on by Paschel. By keeping an eye open for ideological and institutional changes lying beyond the nation-state, she merges both cases into one coherent narrative. What is more, by connecting the substantial achievements of marginalized black movements to transnational discourses of multiculturalism and racial equality, Paschel convincingly lays bare the limitations of state- and activist-centric theories of social movements."--Jesse Jonkman, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
"Becoming Black Political Subjects adroitly crosses disciplines to parse out the legal, ideational, and institutional implications of black political mobilization in Colombia and Brazil. Tianna Paschel ferrets out the tensions between activists and organizations identified with state power on the one hand, and more popular forms of consciousness raising and mobilization on the other. Conceptually innovative, methodologically rigorous, and wide-ranging, this book is an extraordinary piece of scholarship."--Michael Hanchard, University of Pennsylvania
Table of Contents:
List of Organizations vii
1 Political Field Alignments 1
2 Making Mestizajes 28
3 Black Movements in Colorblind Fields 47
4 The Multicultural Alignment 81
5 The Racial Equality Alignment 117
6 Navigating the Ethno-Racial State 153
7 Unmaking Black Political Subjects 189
8 Rethinking Race, Rethinking Movements 220
Methodological Appendix 239