Arab Brazil: Literature, Culture, and Orientalism in the Racial Democracy


ACLS Fellowship Program


Comparative and World Literature


If Orientalism represents a discourse of Western mastery over the Orient, what happens when it migrates to the developing world? What are, for example, the contours of Brazilian Orientalism? If not driven by imperial or foreign policy imperatives, what are its ideological investments? This project addresses these questions by analyzing the representation of Arabs in Brazil in literary works by Arab immigrant, Brazilian, and Arab-descended Brazilian writers, as well as in popular culture forms such as the telenovela, carnival parades, and popular music. The project argues that while Euro-American Orientalism is based on dualities, such as self/other, East/West, and colonizer/colonized, Brazilian Orientalism has a tertiary structure that defines the country’s cultural identity in relation both to the Arab-Islamic world and to Euro-American Orientalism.