Legalizing Identities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil's Northeast / Edition 1

Legalizing Identities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil's Northeast / Edition 1

by Jan Hoffman French
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807832928

ISBN-13: 9780807832929

Pub. Date: 06/01/2009

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

Anthropologists widely agree that identities - even ethnic and racial ones - are socially constructed. Less understood are the processes by which social identities are conceived and developed. Legalizing Identities shows how law can successfully serve as the impetus for the transformation of cultural practices and collective identity. Through ethnographic,

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Overview

Anthropologists widely agree that identities - even ethnic and racial ones - are socially constructed. Less understood are the processes by which social identities are conceived and developed. Legalizing Identities shows how law can successfully serve as the impetus for the transformation of cultural practices and collective identity. Through ethnographic, historical, and legal analysis of successful claims to land by two neighboring black communities in the backlands of northeastern Brazil, Jan Hoffman French demonstrates how these two communities have come to distinguish themselves from each other while revising and retelling their histories and present-day stories.

French argues that the invocation of laws by these related communities led to the emergence of two different identities: one indigenous (Xocó Indian) and the other quilombo (descendants of a fugitive African slave community). With the help of the Catholic Church, government officials, lawyers, anthropoligists, and activists, each community won government recognition and land rights, and displaced elite landowners. This was accomplished even through anthropologists called upon to assess the validity of their claims recognized that their identities were "constructed." The positive outcome of their claims demonstrates that authenticity is not a prerequisite for identity. French draws from this insight a more sweeping conclusion that, far from being evidence of inauthenticity, processes of construction form the basis of all identities and may have important consequences for social justice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807832929
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
06/01/2009
Series:
Cultural Studies of the United States Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Abbreviations xxiii

Introduction: Globalizing Rights and Legalizing Identities 1

1 Situating Identities in the Religious Landscape of the Sertão 17

2 We Are Indians Even If Our Faces Aren't Painted 43

3 Constructing Boundaries and Creating Legal Facts: A Landowner Dies and a Quilombo Is Born 77

4 Family Feuds and Ethnoracial Politics: What's Land Got to Do with It? 105

5 Cultural Moves: Authenticity and Legalizing Difference 133

6 Buried Alive: A Family Story Becomes Quilombo History 154

Conclusion 174

Notes 187

Bibliography 217

Index 237

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