Northwestern Events Calendar


Anthropology Colloquium Series 2016-2017: Jennifer Roth-Gordon "The Elusiveness of Whiteness: Brazilian Lessons on Color, Race, Class, and Language"

When: Monday, November 14, 2016
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Where: 1810 Hinman Avenue, 104, 1810 Hinman Avenue , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Nancy Hickey   (847) 467-1507

Group: Anthropology Colloquia and Events

Co-Sponsor: Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


 Jennifer Roth-Gordon is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Her book, Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro, is forthcoming with University of California Press in January, 2017.

In this talk, I bring together Brazil’s history and experience of miscegenation (race mixture), the complicated connections between race and socioeconomic class (such that money is said to “whiten”), and the separation made between cor (color) and raça (race) to argue for a distinction between “lightness” and “whiteness.” Drawing on everyday interactions collected across race and class lines, I show how people who live in Rio de Janeiro “read” the body for racial signs. The amount of whiteness a body displays is determined not only through observations of the phenotypical features associated with lightness, including skin color, hair texture, and facial features, but also through careful attention paid to cultural and linguistic practices, including the use (or avoidance) of nonstandard speech that is commonly described as slang (gíria). Analytically distinguishing phenotype from embodied practices and racial sensibilities allows us to better understand how whiteness retains its power, offers privilege, and upholds racial hierarchy, even as it remains embaixo do pano (under the tablecloth).


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