I learned a lot about the importance of race in Brazil and the different ways in which Brazilians view race. I thought that it was particularity interesting that race is often defined based on appearance and wealth, which is different than in the United States where it is more based on ancestry. It was also interesting to learn about how racism in Brazil historical took a different form than in the United States, being perpetuated more by society rather than by laws. The “racial democracy” was also a distinct aspect of race in Brazil and was sometimes used to justify racism.
I learned that the history of Brazil was much more complex than I had thought. Before taking this class, I had assumed that Brazil had simply gained independence and installed the democratic government it has today. However, I learned that the truth is much more complex. Brazil has been governed by a wide variety of systems, ranging from democracy to the military dictatorship and even an Empire. I also found it interesting that the royal court of Portugal was located in Brazil at one point, making Brazil a relatively equal member of the Portuguese empire rather than a colony.
I also learned a lot about Brazil’s culture and national identity. I thought that importance of soccer politically and socially, as well as Brazilian pride in their own style of soccer, was very interesting. It was also enlightening to learn how the sport developed to cater to different segments of society as it developed, thus reflecting social divisions within the country. We also learned about a constant search for a Brazilian national identity, which reached its peak during the Vargas era. In addition to these things, I learned that events such as Carnival often have important political meaning in part because of their significance to Brazilian identity and culture.