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2016 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

Changing Notions of Blackness in Field Research in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Author: Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour

Published in: Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US


In this chapter I examine how my notions of blackness were challenged as a black researcher conducting research in Salvador, Brazil. I have conducted research in Brasília, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro but solely focus on Salvador in this chapter. My research spanning a period of 11 years is about the role of racial identification, racism, and group identity on political behavior. In this chapter I focus on the period from 2004 to 2012, during which my research consisted of interviews with politicians about how they address racial issues during campaigns, survey interviews with Afro-Brazilians examining racial identification, racial attitudes, and political behavior, and a survey experiment with Afro-Brazilians studying whether racial and class frames impact support for racial or class policies. I also conducted in-depth interviews with Afro-Brazilians about black identity and affirmative action. In this chapter I do not analyze results from my research. Rather I focus on how I was challenged to analyze blackness more critically because of my lived experience as well as varying notions of blackness I witnessed living in Brazil while I conducted my research. Considering varying notions of blackness within one country is especially important to theories of the African diaspora where oftentimes there is an assumption about common experiences and interpretations of history. The lived experience as a black American researcher in Brazil allowed me to gain a broader understanding of what it means to be an African descendant in another part of the African diaspora. I also began thinking about new ways of analyzing racial politics in the United States when considering black Americans.

Changing Notions of Blackness in Field Research in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour
Copyright Year
Palgrave Macmillan US