Author Archives: Maria Atala

Three Things I Learned in this Class

One of the most important things I learned this semester is how abolition occurred in Brazil with informal segregation to follow. Coming into this class, I knew that Brazil had one of the largest slave population. However, I did not know how abolition came about nor how Afro-Brazilians were incorporated into society after abolition. In the United States, a civil war was needed to end slavery and formal segregation was implemented to continue discrimination against blacks. Interestingly, in Brazil no war was needed to end slavery and abolition occurred through signing a law. However, slaves and freed slaves along with other abolitionists played a big role in Brazil for this to occur.  After abolition was passed through law, no assistance was given to freed slaves. Thus, informal segregation and systematic racism were both able to engrain themselves in Brazilian society.


Another important thing I learned in class is the concept of a racial democracy in Brazil and how it does not accurately portray race relations in Brazil. Since Brazil did not have formal segregation, some argue that Brazil is a racial democracy and were able to escape racism and racial discrimination. However, racism is still very much evident in Brazil, which was made very clear to me after I read the book The Color of Love: Racial Features, Stigma, and Socialization in Black Brazilian Families by E. H. Freeman for class. Black features are stigmatized heavily and looked at negatively, while white features are considered pretty. In addition, the book revealed that there are informal black and white spaces that families must teach their children to either go to or avoid. Thus, not only does informal discrimination exist in Brazilian society, but it also exists within families. This debunks the concept of racial democracy in Brazil.

The third most important thing I learned about is the importance of Brazilian national identity and what constitutes Brazilian national identity. Prior to this course, I was unaware of the Getúlio Vargas dictatorship that pushed to create a Brazilian national identity. The use of samba to create a national identity was especially interesting to me, as it came from African roots. Additionally, it was also surprising that soccer did not become popular until the Vargas era when it became the nation’s national support. Lastly, the popularity of capoeira is also interesting because it also came from African roots like samba. Even though Afro-Brazilians are still discriminated against in Brazilian society, Brazil accepts African tradition such as samba and capoeira.


IS Symposium

I went to a poster by Sidney Irias, whose project compared adoption attitudes between the United States and Honduras. The researcher focused on certain factors that influenced positive or negative adoption attitudes, such as age and income, and whether they had the same impact in both cultures. Sidney found that higher formal education, being a woman, and having a higher income all led to positive attitudes toward adoption in both conties. However, I found it interesting that Sidney focused on religion only in Honduras, portraying Latin America as more as a Catholic region than the United States. As a child of Peruvian parents, I thought this was a smart move since Catholicism is heavily practiced by the majority of Latin America. She found that Catholics in Honduras had more access to adoption than non-Catholics.

I also went to the poster of Diana Bickmore, whose poster focused on the impact of climate change on the coffee industry in Columbia and Honduras. Diana found that the Colombian Coffee Grower’s Federation and the Honduran Coffee Institute both were successful to some extent in combating coffee growing issues arising from climate change. Diana portrayed Colombia as more organized due to their unified governing body and prominent national coffee brand than Honduras, suggesting that Colombian coffee industry will adjust better to climate change than Honduras.

Wasteland Discussion Questions

What role did race play in Wasteland?

Although race was not really mentioned in Wasteland, the majority of the pickers had darker skin. I think that the issue of race should have been addressed in Wasteland since it most likely played a role in the poor conditions the pickers were living and working in.

Is art the best way to help people in poverty?

I think that art is helpful for people in poverty as an outlet and to recognize other aspects of life. However, I do think it would have been helpful if Vik gave the pickers advice or education on how to get a new job and overcome obstacles that exist in everyday society.

Hour of the Star Discussion Question

Question: How does treatment toward Macabea reflect the gender roles ans sexuality within Brazil during this period?

Throughout the novel, themes of gender and sexuality in Brazil are present. Macabea, the main character, is an innocent and unaware young woman in Brazilian society. Her virginity is constantly referred to by the narrator and by her ex-boyfriend Olimpico.  For example, there are several times throughout the book where Olimpico says the only reason he is not using bad words to refer to Macabea is because she is a virgin (41; 46; 53). Another time gender and sexuality is brought up is when Macabea asks Olimpico what “elegebra” is, in which he responds that only queers know elegebra (41). When Macabea  further questions Olimpico on topics she learned by listening to the radio that Olimpico didn’t know, Olimpico would question whether a virgin should be saying those words in the first place (46). Sexuality is also mentioned when Macabea gets excited while looking at a photo of Olimpico, in which she responded by praying to calm down. Gender roles are also addressed for men when Olimpico tries to pick Macabea up and drops her, which leads him to feel embarrassed (44). Gender roles for women were evident when Macabea was cleaning herself up after the fall as  she used her skirt and did not want Olimpico to watch her because it was not lady-like (44). All of these examples show that it was excepted for women to be docile, pure, and abstinent. It also shows that men were expected to be physically strong and intelligent.



Wikipedia Article: Luiz Gama

A potential article that I will improve on Wikipedia is the Luiz Gama page. When looking at his page, I saw content gaps in his biography. Specifically, there was a large gap between 1847 and the 1860’s, which is when Gama was 18-31 years old. One of my goals is to fill this gap with details of what he did during this period. I would also like to expand on what kind of cases he handled as a lawyer, as sources have indicated that he has helped free slaves using the law. The Works section is also quite small, so I will also look for more of Gama’s literary contributions. Gama was both a journalist and poet, but there is not a lot of information on the type of work he did. Lastly, more details on his contribution to the Republican Party of São Paulo and their success will hopefully be added.

This article is important for Brazilian history because Gama played an important role for the abolition movement in Brazil. In class, we covered the role of the elites and female slaves in the abolition movement. Although we recognized that free blacks played a role in the abolition movement, we did not go into details with a specific case. By updating the Luiz Gama page, I will be able shed light on the role of free black men in abolition. Gama’s case is especially interesting since he used his career as a lawyer to help slaves. This article is also important for Brazilian culture because Gama was also a journalist and poet. By examining his poems closer, one can gain a better sense of the Brazilian culture at the time. Gama’s work as a journalist would also reveal important topics that were occurring in São Paulo.

Reputable sources that exist to back up the new content I plan to add include several encyclopedias with information on Luiz Gama, such as Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience and the Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. There are also several books about abolition that include information about Luiz Gama, such as The Abolition of Slavery in Brazil, Children of God’s Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil and The Destruction of Brazilian Slavery. There is also a Portuguese nonprofit organization in São Paulo, Brazil called Instituto Luiz Gama that is dedicated to Luiz Gama. The organization seems to be made up of professors and lawyers and their website provides more information about Luiz Gama as well. These sources will help add detail to the Wikipedia page of Luiz Gama. Lastly, I checked the Talk page and there were no comments on the page, so hopefully my additions will help.

Research Project Blog Post

A potential research project topic that I am heavily considering is the role of soccer in Brazilian national identity. In my research, I would like to discover why soccer is so important to Brazilians and how it shapes national identity.  In order to tackle this question, I would look at how soccer started in Brazil in the first place and examine how its importance began to rise. This is significant as soccer still plays a huge role in Brazilian national identity today. The current basic knowledge I have on the topic is that immigrants from Europe brought soccer to Brazil and that soccer was largely played by elites initially. This interests me as it possibly adds a racial element to the topic, which is significant as it questions the racial democracy that Brazil claims to be.

If I choose to examine the role of race within soccer, it would be interesting to see if there were any racial conflicts within the team or if soccer served as a unifying force within Brazilian society. Another possible avenue I can take within this research topic is how big losses in Brazilian soccer impacted national identity. Tying it back to race, it would be interesting to see if specific players were used as a scapegoat because of their race during these losses. Also, since soccer did begin as an elite sport, it would be interesting to discover more on how more racial groups gained their right to play.

In order to examine this topic, secondary sources are important to look at when thinking of how the national identity of Brazilians has been shaped over time. Specifically, since European immigrants brought the sport of soccer to Brazil, it would be interesting to see how Brazilians made soccer Brazilian instead of European. One secondary source I have found specifically looks at the role of Italian immigrants in developing Brazilian soccer. I have also found a primary source that compliments this secondary source very well. This primary source comes from a newspaper article, in which an Italian immigrant living in Brazil reacts to the loss of the Brazilian team to the Italian team during the World Cup in 1982.

This research topic is important for understanding Brazil as it explores a factor that plays a huge role in national identity. It is especially interesting to examine how losses in the World Cup hurt national identity, specifically by looking at the reactions of Brazilians. This research topic is also important when examining race in Brazil. Past classes and the readings for class tomorrow (2/13) address the issue of race in Brazil, specifically whether Brazil is racist or not. Seeing how players of different races regarding soccer more than likely shows how they were treated during specific times throughout Brazilian history, since soccer plays such a huge role to Brazilian identity. Overall, this research topic is relevant as soccer and the race question is still play an important when thinking about Brazilian society today.

Primary Sources

8 SOCCER FANS DIE AS URUGUAY SCORES. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]18 July 1950: 26.

URUGUAY ANNEXES TITLE: Upsets Favored Brazil, 2-1, in World Soccer–Sweden 3d. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]17 July 1950: 27.

120 million Brazilians plunge into gloom. The Times of India (1861-current); Mumbai, India [Mumbai, India]07 July 1982: 9.

Secondary Sources

Bocketti, Gregg P. “Italian immigrants, Brazilian football, and the dilemma of national identity.” Journal of Latin American Studies 40, no. 2 (2008): 275-302.

da Silva, Ana Paula. “King Pele: Race, Professionalism And Football In Brazil.” Nat’l Black LJ 21 (2008): 1.

Lopes, José Sergio Leite. “Class, ethnicity, and color in the making of Brazilian football.” Daedalus 129, no. 2 (2000): 239-270.

Oliveira-Monte, Emanuelle. “Blacks Versus Whites Self-Denomination, Soccer, and Race Representations in Brazil.” Luso-Brazilian Review 50, no. 2 (2013): 76-92.

Class Notes 2/8


The College of Wooster’s Stieglitz Memorial Lecture is on Monday (2/12) at 7:30pm in Lean Lecture. The title of the lecture this year is called “White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meaning of Race” by Matthew Hughey, a professor from the University of Connecticut.

A blog post is due on Friday (2/16) proposing a potential article that you can edit for the Wikipedia Article assignment, so it would be beneficial to start thinking about what topic interests you sooner rather than later.

Culture Blog Post

Woo did his culture blog post on an article in the Smithsonian about Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that is mixed with dance elements. Woo specifically talked about how the Capoeira has transformed over the years. In the 16th century, Capoeira was only done among enslaved Africans in Brazil to practice defensive attacks so that they could resist European oppression. By late 19th century, the freed slave population moved to urban areas and continued to practice Capoeira for defensive purposes. However, in the 20th century, Capoeira was promoted more as an art form and elites began to support it as well, which allowed it to become the official national sport in 1972. Woo also looked at the portrayal of Capoeira in a video game called Tekken to see how Capoeira plays a role in national identity. Overall, Woo tied this article with the class theme of Brazilian diversity and how Brazilians seek to maintain a culture of their own.

The Day’s Activities

Exploring Primary Sources

After the culture presentation, the class focused on the topic of abolition in Brazil. The specific questions the class took into consideration included: If African slavery was so important in Brazil, how do we explain its abolition? What kinds of sources exist for analyzing slavery and abolition and how do our choices shape the argument we make about the past? In order to tackle the first question, we turned to some primary sources we had for homework from the Brazilian Reader and additional primary sources from Professor Holt. One primary source that we talked about in class was Nabuco’s passage called “Slavery & Society”. Nabuco came from an elite sugar plantation family and was the son of a politician who hated slavery. Thus, Nabuco himself became a famous abolitionist during the 19th century in Brazil. In this passage, Nabuco makes the moral argument against slavery. He claims that slavery has a detrimental effect on Brazil as it morally corrupts society as a whole. Specifically, slavery acts as a huge obstacle to the civilization of Brazil. Nabuco calls Brazilian society hypocritical for tolerating slavery and believes that Brazil is not truly independent until slavery is abolished. The Nabuco primary source allows us to answer how slavery was abolished in Brazil despite its importance in society. Looking at this source only, it can be assumed that slavery was abolished to further civilize society in Brazil, as the social consequences of slavery outweighed the economic benefits. However, by looking at more primary sources, we can get a more complete answer to this question.

Next, we looked at a primary source from Princess Isabel, specifically her final decree of abolition, officially named, “Abolition Decree, 1888.” In the decree, Princess Isabel abolished all slavery and revoked all other laws that stated otherwise. This decree itself abolished slavery, which highlighted the power of the royal family in Brazil at the time. This primary source helped us answer our initial question by considering the power of the elites, specifically the royal family. The other primary source we looked at that was not assigned for homework was a painting called “The Freeing of Slaves” by Pedro Americo in 1889. The painting depicted white people as angels, with the majority of people being women. The white people were all nicely clothed, while the slaves in the painting were naked and depicted as pitiful. This painting depicted abolition as a white gift to black people and, again, suggests that slavery was only abolished because of the elites.

“The Freeing of Slaves” by Pedro Americo in 1889

However, this was not true. The next primary source was a map of the Sao Gancalo Quilombo Minas Gerais from the late 18th century. The fact that the government contained a map of a quilombo hints that the colonial state felt anxious about a possible slave revolt, which suggests that enslaved blacks did try to fight for their freedom and did not just wait for the elites to abolish slavery. This idea was reaffirmed with the next primary source, which was a book confiscated from slaves who attempted to revolt in the Male Revolt in Salvador, Bahia in 1835. This book was worn around the neck and was written in Arabic. This suggests that people planning the revolt were literate and multilingual. It also shows another element to the abolition struggle: possible cooperation between the enslaved and freed.

Map of the Sao Gancalo Quilombo Minas Gerais from the late 18th century

Discussion on Camillia Cowling’s “Debating Womanhood, Defining Freedom: The Abolition of Slavery in 1880s Rio de Janeiro”

After analyzing these primary sources, the class broke into small groups to discuss questions pertaining to the Cowling reading, a secondary source. The questions considered included, What kinds of sources does Cowling use? What is the main argument? How does her research complicate our understanding of slavery and abolition in Brazil? Why is this important? Cowling uses a variety of sources, including letters from slaves, council records, laws, and newspaper articles. Her main argument is that gender and abolition are very connected and that maternalism played a big role in abolition. Overall, she argues that women played a large role in the abolition movement in Brazil, which is often overlooked. Her argument and research complicates our understanding of slavery and abolition in Brazil as the roles of slaves, particularly women, is often not considered in the abolition processes within other countries. Usually, abolition movements are thought of as an elite-led movement, but in Brazil, it is viewed as a legal battle led by enslaved women. This is important to consider when looking at different abolition movements, such as how Brazil was able to minimize violence opposed to the war that broke out in the United States.

By looking at all these primary sources and the informative secondary source, it is clear that one must read many different perspectives on a topic in order to have a more complete understanding of a situation. For example, if we only looked at the primary sources from elites, we would have thought that abolition was an elite led movement. However, by looking at primary sources from slaves and government records as well as the Cowling secondary source, we get a more complete understanding of how the abolition movement work, specifically the huge role enslaved women had.

Key Terms

Quilombo: settlement of runaway slaves

Pano: a headwrap Brazilian women would wear

Christianity: believers in Jesus

Protestant: Christian, but fundamentally different than Catholics due to its emphasis on the bible

Catholics: earliest Christians that are sacrament based, which most Brazilians were in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th centuries.

Links This website gives a timeline on how slavery and abolition played out in Brazil. An article providing an overview of the causes of abolition, including humatarian pressure. Gives an overview of the Free Womb Law and the background on how the law was titled.

Possible Exam Questions

How did women play a role in abolition and how did maternalism play a role as well?

Although the Abolition decrees was passed in 1888, how were freed slaves treated after abolition?

Who were all the actors involved in abolition and how did their efforts intertwine to accomplish the goal of abolition?

Brazilian History and Culture Blog Post: Queermuseu

QueerMuseu Logo

Last August, the first major exhibition of queer art was shut down earlier than scheduled at the Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The art exhibition was called Queermuseu or Queer Museum, and promoted gender and sexual diversity. Protests were initiated by a group called Movimento Brasil Livre (Free Brazil Movement), which is a right-wing group that was also responsible for the protests against former president Dilma Rousseff. The Free Brazil Movement accused the exhibit of promoting pedophilia, child pornography, bestiality, and blasphemy. Out of the 263 works by 85 different artists, the 3 pieces that evoked such a negative response include an image of the Virgin Mary carrying a baby monkey, altar bread with the words “vagina” and “tongue” written on them, and portraits of children with the words “transvestite” and “gay child” written on them. The Free Brasil Movement organized protests inside and outside of the museum, which included harassing museum patrons. Since Santander Cultural, a cultural center, is sponsored by the Santander Bank, the bank made the decision to close the exhibit early and came out with a statement apologizing for the exhibit and disapproving the content within the exhibit.


Felipe Scandelari’s “Last Resort” piece that produced backlash. Photo taken from NY Times.

“Gay Children” by Bia Leite. Photo taken from Freemuse.










However, backlash over the abrupt cancellation occurred as well. Specifically, the freedom of speech has been a concern among some Brazilians, especially since the new president (Michel Temer) came into power. In addition to the closure of this exhibition, there has also been other acts of censorship by the government regarding political film. The curator of the Queermuseum, Gaudêncio Fidelis, responded by comparing these actions to the censorship Brazil experienced under the military dictatorship from 1964-1985. Along with the curator of the Queermuseum, the district attorney and some major artists have condemned the closing of the exhibit, explaining that no pedophilia was observed in the art. Although protests and a petition has been signed by over 60,000 people, the Queermuseum has not been reopened, but the city of Belo Horizonte is interested in having the exhibit in their municipal museum.

Inside the Queermuseu. Photo taken from GoFundMe.

Protests against the closure of Queermuseu. Photo taken from The Conversation.

This article emphasized the importance of Christian values among Brazilians and how far right movements have advocated for these beliefs to influence politics. The article portrayed a negative depiction of the current Brazilian president, Michel Temer, for mixing his evangelical beliefs with politics and other questionable actions. However, this has produced backlash from other Brazilians, such as those from the LGBT, to the extent in which the democratic practices of Brazil is being questioned. The article also portrayed artists and musicians as being heavily involved in Brazilian politics, especially due to the government’s censorship of the arts.

Current president of Brazil, Michel Temer. Photo taken from Yahoo.

The importance of artists and musicians in Brazilian society was talked about in class last Thursday. Marina brought up the power of musicians when it comes to race and the documentary also touched upon this topic. Interestingly, the theme of celebrities playing a role in politics came up again in this article too, as the article emphasized the disapproval many celebrities had for the closure of the exhibit. Another recurring class theme this article presented is religion. The early readings we have had for class has focused on how Portuguese colonists brought Catholicism to Brazil and promoted it as the superior religion among indigenous people. The colonists were appalled by some of the natives’ actions, such as homosexuality and cannibalism, and viewed them as immoral (Seed, 96). Today homosexuality is not viewed to this extreme, but as evangelical beliefs are growing prominent in Brazil, opposition may be rising.


Cesnik, Fábio, and Inês Soares. “Brazil: Sponsorship of cultural activities limits freedom of expression.” Brazil: Sponsorship of cultural activities limits freedom of expression. November 16, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2018.
Darlington, Shasta. “Brazilian Art Show Sets Off Dispute That Mirrors Political Battles.” The New York Times. September 13, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2018.®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront.
Katz, Brigit. “Amidst Heated Criticism, Queer Art Exhibition Is Shuttered in Brazil.” September 25, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2018.

Seed, Patricia. American Pentimento the Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

Smith, Sebastian. “Temer vows to get Brazil ‘back on rails’.” Yahoo! News. May 14, 2016. Accessed January 24, 2018.
Tiburi Professor of Philosophy, Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Márcia . “In censoring a ‘Queer Museum,’ Brazil edges closer to authoritarianism.” The Conversation. January 24, 2018. Accessed January 24, 2018.
Vieira, Cibele. “Click here to support NY loves QueerMuseu organized by Cibele Vieira.” September 17, 2017. Accessed January 24, 2018.

Wikipedia Article Critique

Everything was relevant in the Wikipedia article covering “Indigenous peoples in Brazil.” However, there were a few things that distracted me in this article. Under the first major heading (“Origin”), indigenous people were referred to as Amerindian people, but further in the article the term Native American was heavily used. I am unfamiliar with the Amerindian term and do not know if it differs significantly from Native Americans. Staying consist with terms used would have led to less confusion. There were also too many subheading underneath the heading of “Native people after European colonization,” which could have been broken down. Lastly, there were a few grammatical errors throughout the article, such as the failure of capitalization at the beginning of sentences.

For the most part, the article was neutral. The article started with a slight positive bias towards the indigenous people of Brazil, as it stated that they made huge contributions to medicine but did not give a citation. In addition, when talking about Cândido Rondon, only his accomplishments were touched upon with barely any autobiographical information. There were also multiple viewpoints that were underrepresented throughout the article. Firstly, the use of violence against the indigenous people of Brazil by the Portuguese colonists was understated, as the first mention of the decline of the indigenous population was only attributed to assimilation and disease and failed to mention wars. However, as the article continued, violence toward the indigenous people was referred to briefly. Elaboration of the religion of indigenous people was also underrepresented as it was barely addressed in the article. The only time religion was really talked about was how the Jesuits acted as protectors of the indigenous people. Lastly, the tribes in the interior of Brazil (the Caribs and the Nuaraque) were underrepresented in comparison to the coastal tribes of Tupi and Tapuia. The DNA aspect of where the indigenous people came from was a tad overrepresented as the article could have talked about more aspect of their culture instead.

All the links I checked in the references section worked. The sources do support the claims in the article accordingly. Sources included empirical articles, government websites, books, and websites of organizations. All sources appeared neutral. About a quarter of the citations were only five years old or younger, but the rest were as old as 1985. This is somewhat troubling as the source from 1985 cited a linguistic survey to count how many different indigenous languages currently exist. This number should be updated since it is over thirty years old and has most likely has changed. The report that cited how many different uncontacted tribes there are is also outdated, as it was conducted over ten years ago. In addition, although all the citations that were presented seemed reliable and functional, not all facts were cited within a paragraph. For example, under the “SPI failure and FUNAI” subheading, there were a few sentences that ended with “citation needed.” This article is rated as C-Class and is a part of WikiProject Indigenous people of the Americas and Wikiproject Brazil. The conversations on the Talk page of this article consists of questions clarifying some sentences, updating numbers, and discussing other potential topics to add on the article. Overall, this article has good aspects, but is missing some cultural information about the tribes that inhabited and still inhabit Brazil, such as their religion. It was interesting to see how Wikipedia tries to present information in a neutral way while in class and history courses in general we tend to examine different perspectives on an event and elaborate on the possible implications it has on society.