racial inequality and religious belief in brazil the mysterious case of slave anastacia
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Racial Inequality and Religious Belief in Brazil: The Mysterious Case of Slave Anastacia. Monday, April 2, 2001. Brazil. The devotion to the Slave Anastacia. One of the most revered popular saints in Brazil: at least 12 million devotees; most of devotees are women; of all colors

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racial inequality and religious belief in brazil the mysterious case of slave anastacia

Racial Inequality and Religious Belief in Brazil: The Mysterious Case of Slave Anastacia

Monday, April 2, 2001

the devotion to the slave anastacia
The devotion to the Slave Anastacia
  • One of the most revered popular saints in Brazil: at least 12 million devotees; most of devotees are women; of all colors
  • Her main appeal: delivery of miraculous cures, solace for women in crisis
  • Also important: her mythical story
    • Non-devotees say she never existed; devotees say she did
    • Main outlines of her story
version 1 of anastacia s story
Version 1 of Anastacia’s story
  • Master really falls in love with Anastacia
  • Anastacia accepts/falls in love with master
  • Master’s takes revenge on Anastacia
  • Caring relations between masters and slaves are thinkable; the source of evil/torture is not slavery as much as the jealousy of master’s wife
version 2 of anastacia s story
Version 2 of Anastacia’s story
  • Master lusts after Anastacia
  • Anastacia refuses and resists his overtures
  • He tries to rape her; she fights back
  • Master punishes her by imposing the face mask
  • She is defending her honor
  • The most important feature of the story for these informants: her refusal to give in
slavery in brazil
Slavery in Brazil
  • From 1512-1870: 3 million Africans survive Middle Passage to Brazil
  • Worked in sugar, gold and diamond mines; later in tobacco
  • Life expectancy: 7 years in the field (malnutrition, disease, overwork, torture)
resistance to slavery
Resistance to slavery
  • Escape, setting up maroon communities
  • Palmares and Zumbi (1600-1690)
  • The Muslim uprising (1835)
  • The massive rebellions, 1850-1888
official brazilian history
“Official” Brazilian history
  • The story told in school-books: Princess Isabel freed the slaves in 1888 out of goodness of her heart
  • Slaves mainly accepted slavery because Brazilian culture is so familial and cordial (Gilberto Freyre)
the key contrast with the us
The key contrast with the US
  • The presence of a third color/race category: “moreno”, “pardo”, “mulato”.
  • In 1888, 40% of Brazilians belonged to this category
  • These people had better life chances than those who were identified as “preto” or “negro”
causes for the emergence of a large official mulatto class
Causes for the emergence of a large official “mulatto” class
  • Many more unattached men in Brazil than in North America (Brazilian planters wanted heirs)
  • North American women had more authority in households than Portuguese women (Portuguese women less able to block competition with their own children)
  • Scarcity of Europeans to take on socially respectable jobs in Brazil (foremen, militia captains, small merchants)
the impact today on brazilian race relations
The impact today on Brazilian race relations
  • Working-class (“w-c”) “mulato” twice as likely as w-c “preto” to earn university degree
  • Preto children 3 times more likely than mulato children to drop out of school by 4th grade
  • W-c pretos earn 25-30% less than w-c mulattos
tensions between pretas and morenas
Tensions between pretas and “morenas”
  • Beauty
    • The morenas have advantage in love “market”
  • Family
    • Lighter siblings often receive different treatment
  • Work
    • negras hired more as domestic servants; morenas hired more as cashiers, sales assistants, etc.
the official story the myth of racial democracy
The “official story”: the myth of racial democracy
  • Also Gilberto Freyre
  • “There is no racism in Brazil”
  • Any inequality of treatment is due, not to color, but to class difference
returning to the versions of anastacia s story
Returning to the versions of Anastacia’s story
  • Version 1: Told by women who identified themselves as “morenas”
    • thought of themselves as descendant of slave-master union
    • wanted to think of their slave-master ancestor in positive terms
    • accept the “official” history of Freyre
version 2
Version 2
  • Told by women calling themselves “pretas” or “negras”
  • Anastacia prefers death to rape
  • version refutes the myth of cordial slavery and serves as basis to resist the ongoing myth of racial democracy
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