This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date book on the increasingly important and controversial subject of race relations in Brazil. North American scholars of race relations frequently turn to Brazil for comparisons, since its history has many key similarities to that of the United States. Brazilians have commonly compared themselves with North Americans, and have traditionally argued that race relations in Brazil are far more harmonious because the country encourages race mixture rather than formal or informal segregation.
More recently, however, scholars have challenged this national myth, seeking to show that race relations are characterized by exclusion, not inclusion, and that fair-skinned Brazilians continue to be privileged and hold a disproportionate share of wealth and power.
In this sociological and demographic study, Edward Telles seeks to understand the reality of race in Brazil and how well it squares with these traditional and revisionist views of race relations. He shows that both schools have it partly right--that there is far more miscegenation in Brazil than in the United States--but that exclusion remains a serious problem. He blends his demographic analysis with ethnographic fieldwork, history, and political theory to try to "understand" the enigma of Brazilian race relations--how inclusiveness can coexist with exclusiveness.
The book also seeks to understand some of the political pathologies of buying too readily into unexamined ideas about race relations. In the end, Telles contends, the traditional myth that Brazil had harmonious race relations compared with the United States encouraged the government to do almost nothing to address its shortcomings.
"This is a blockbuster of a book. To a topic--Brazilian race relations--historically fraught with ambiguity, uncertainty, and disagreement, it brings clarity, logic, and lucidity, not to mention several truckloads of data. The result is the most important work on race in Brazil since Gilberto Freyre's seminal The Masters and the Slaves (1933). . . . The clarity and lucidity of Telles's findings, and the wealth of data on which they are based, make this book a genuine tour de force, and the most illuminating examination of Brazilian race relations that I have ever read."--George Reid Andrews, Journal of Social History
"Edward Telles's rich and important book is the latest, and most systematic, sociological study of Brazilian race relations. . . . In this book, Telles greatly advances our knowledge of race's significance in Brazil and, to a lesser extent, in the United States. It should be required reading in any sociology course about Brazil and/or race."--Melissa Nobles, American Journal of Sociology
"Telles skillfully diagnoses the dimensions and mechanisms of race discrimination and, in a lucid final chapter, identifies those policy solutions the government should contemplate to break with these nefarious patterns."--Mala Htun, Political Science Quarterly
"Edward E. Telles's consideration of race in Brazil is a landmark study. . . . It sets a standard for the study of race in Brazil against which all future works on the subject will be measured."--David Covin, Perspectives on Politics
"An amazingly detailed account of race in Brazil. . . . [T]he author makes a major contribution to the understanding of race relations, making this book required reading for anyone interested in the topics of race or Brazil."--Franklin Goza, Contemporary Sociology
This book has been translated into: