The Paradoxes of Ethnoracial Space in São Paulo, 1930s-1980s


ACLS Project Development Grants


Liberal Arts


This project maps the interwoven histories of three of São Paulo’s most iconic neighborhoods: “Japanese” Liberdade, “Italian” Bixiga, and “African” Brasilândia. Such ethnoracialized spaces do not accrue naturally through palimpsestic urban change; nor do they simply reflect immigrant settlement patterns in former slave societies. Instead, they are planned spaces whose construction serves, paradoxically, to reproduce racialized inequities and bolster discourses of multicultural harmony. Interrogating the paradoxes of ethnoracial space in Brazil’s most populous, ethnically-diverse, and unequal city, this project elucidates how popular ideologies of multiculturalism endure despite superlative levels of racialized inequity and violence in urban contexts in Brazil and beyond.