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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.42 no.1 Porto Alegre jan./mar. 2017 


History Teaching, Intercultural Dialogue and Ethnic-Racial Relations

Carla Beatriz MeinerzI 

IUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre/RS - Brazil


This article presents reflections that connect history teaching, interculturality and education on ethnic-racial relations. It exposes some results of ongoing study processes on actions related to the implementation of laws 10.639/03 and 11.645/08 in Cachoeirinha, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. It also points out two specific elements of the reception of these laws, in the context of school education and the history teaching in Rio Grande do Sul: on one hand, the affection to the cause, as a more individual and less institutional response to legal regulations; on the other hand, the tendency of creating new stereotypes in the collective practices concerning the reception of such legislation and related guidelines.

Keywords: History Teaching; Intercultural Dialogue; Ethnic-Racial Relations.


O texto apresenta reflexões que colocam em conexão o ensino de História, a interculturalidade e a educação das relações étnico-raciais. Expõe alguns resultados de processos de estudo em andamento acerca de ações relativas à implementação das Leis 10.639/03 e 11.645/08 no município de Cachoerinha, RS. Aponta para dois elementos específicos da recepção dessas Leis, no contexto da educação escolar e do ensino de História no Rio Grande do Sul: por um lado, o afeto à causa, como resposta mais individual e menos institucional às determinações legais; por outro lado, a tendência à construção de novas estereotipias nas práticas coletivas de recepção dessa legislação e das diretrizes correlatas.

Palavras-chave: Ensino de História; Diálogo Intercultural; Relações Étnico-Raciais

Specificities of Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations in Rio Grande do Sul

Pelo litoral


de norte

a sul nagô.

ficou no Recife:


Na Bahia ficou:


No Rio Grande é o quê?

- Batuque, tchê.

Filho de santo

de bombacha,


comendo churrasco:



do negro



(Oliveira Silveira, 2012)9

One day we received a school in our village.

I had a gourd of chimarrão in my hand.

A boy pointed at me; he was surprised:

'Look! They also know how to drink chimarrão'.

He didn't know that chimarrão is a guarani drink.

(Vherá Poty, 2014, class notes, our translation)10.

Is there any specificity to educate students about ethnic-racial relations in Rio Grande do Sul (RS)? Is there a gaúcho way to receive laws 10639/2003 and 11645/200811? What are the impacts of these laws on the History teaching in the South region of Brazil (parallel 30)? To answer these questions, we would have to deal with the particularities of the relations among different ethnic and racial groups in our state. Are we more or less racist than other places in Brazil and around the world? Why should we worry about these questions? Poetically and politically speaking, Oliveira Silveira, a Brazilian black poet from the South, has invited us to think about the existence of a gaúcho way of living the plurality of black belongingness in our country. Recently, Verá Pothy, an Mbyá-Guarani leader in Rio Grande do Sul, has questioned us about the invisibility given to the fact that chimarrão, a drink officially remembered as typical of gaúchos, belongs to the Guarani tradition and ancestry. Based on these inspirations and thought-provoking oral expressions, I present some thoughts that connect History teaching, interculturality and education of ethnic-racial relations. This essay exposes some results of ongoing study processes on actions related to the implementation of Laws 10639/2003 and 11645/2008 in Cachoeirinha (RS). Such studies take place within a research trajectory of extension actions to investigate the reception of these laws in the teaching of History, through immersion in the trajectories of some discourses and some educational practices, individual or collective, in two municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul state: Cachoeirinha and Palmares do Sul. The methodological procedures of this qualitative research combine bibliographic review, document analysis, open interviews and discussion groups, according to the tradition of the Spanish critical sociology.

The context opened by the promulgation of these laws that created the article 26A of the Lei de Diretrizes e Bases da Educação Nacional (LBDEN - National Educational Bases and Guidelines Law), inserted in the set of affirmative policies for the promotion of racial equality, is historically innovative for bringing to the public debate, through education, practices of racism, prejudice and discrimination, which are traditionally denied or maintained in the private context. In the field of Education, innovation has strongly announced itself, calling in particular, but not only, History teachers to rethink their pedagogical practices and to establish an education of ethnic-racial relations marked by the promotion of actions and reflections based on criteria of social justice and citizenship. This is a political-pedagogical movement that questions the History taught from the perspective of knowledge or specific content of the field, but also challenges us to develop an ethical position on racial and racialized relations in the school daily life. The specific subjects of the History field addressed by the LDBEN text are the following:

In K-12 institutions, public and private, the study of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous history and culture becomes mandatory (Brasil, 2008, p. 1).

§ 1 The content referred in this article will include various aspects of the history and culture that characterize the formation of the Brazilian population, starting from these two ethnic groups, such as the study of history of Africa and Africans, the struggle of blacks and indigenous people in Brazil, black and indigenous Brazilian culture and black and indigenous in the formation of the national society, rescuing their contributions on social, economic and political areas, relevant to the history of Brazil (Brasil, 2008, p. 1).

§ 2 The contents regarding Afro-Brazilian history and culture and Brazilian indigenous people will be provided in the context of the entire school curriculum, especially in the Brazilian areas of arts, literature and history (Brazil, 2008, p. 1, our translation)12.

It is worth mentioning that this movement for diversity and anti-racist education and for the inclusion of such topics in the Brazilian school curricula is not new and not only related to the promulgation date of these laws. We should remember the struggles for racial equality in Brazil, promoted by the Black Movement and the organization of black women, including issues related to education (Ribeiro, 2014), i.e., public policies are historically inseparable from the dynamics of social tensions in our country. It is also interesting to notice the first edition published by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) of Superando o Racismo na Escola [Overcoming racism at school], texts compiled and published in 2000 by Kabengele Munanga.

In the case of Amerindians, the situation is similar regarding the recognition of the specific right to difference, also a result from struggles and union of their groups in their own organizations. Historically, the plurality of indigenous nations in Brazil had been not addressed considering their difference, but with the intention of integrating them into the national society, based on the Eurocentric cultural criteria. However, what indigenous organizations have been defending publicly is that different ethnic groups can live with dignity in their lands, according to their cultural systems, dialoguing with other groups or ethnic-racial movements. In 1988, with the Brazilian Constitution approved by the National Constituent Assembly, some innovations were recorded in legal form, and the indigenous nations had their ways of living and acting, social organization, languages and beliefs recognized. According to José Otávio Catafesto (2013), these changes represent a formal and theoretical milestone regarding the relationship to be implemented among the powers of the Brazilian government and the groups that form the Nation, a new project of inter-related nations, in order to transform Brazil into an International Confederation of Amerindians, Quilombolas, blacks and other ethnic groups integrated in its huge territory. Dated from the first half of the 1980s, the formation of a Working Group of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on Indigenous Populations has the purpose of developing international actions of recognition and promotion of indigenous rights. In 2007, in New York, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous populations was approved. From this brief chronology, we can evaluate that, for indigenous nations, we have a principle of the right to a positively valued difference.

Such principle is the basis for the understanding of the reception of the Laws 10639/2003 and 11645/2008, which aim to insert in History teaching scenario several controversial topics, based on social movements, whose struggle for equity related to their histories and memories can be understood as a moral imperative13 that transcends the limits of scientific and scholastic knowledge. The applications and implications of these laws possibly will be susceptible to many studies and debates for a long period, juxtaposing diverse positions. The reflection presented here is located within the context of these studies and points out two specific elements of the reception of these laws, in the context of school education and History teaching in Rio Grande do Sul: on one hand, the affection to the cause, as a more individual and less institutional response to legal regulations; on the other, the tendency of creating new stereotypes in the reception of these subjects in the syllabus and related guidelines imposed by this legislation. To develop such elements, I tried to explain some of the unique characteristics of ethnic-racial relations in Southern Brazil.

Race, Racism and Ethnicity: specificities of ethnic-racial relations in Southern Brazil

Why do race and racism cause so much controversy in our country? The conceptual dyads formed by elements such as race and ethnicity have been addressed by the natural sciences for a long time, basically linked to discussions among specialists of human genetics. Race, for example, is a category that oscillates between biological and social aspects.

About the history of the race concept, we remember the initial highlight to biological aspects, within the paradigm of inferior and superior races, presented by Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, one of the most important theorists of racism in the 19th century and defender of white race superiority over the others.

Nowadays, in the field of the Social Sciences we can extend the concepts of race/ethnicity to understand the phenomena intrinsic to contemporary social relations, marked by values such as citizenship, justice and ethics. Genotypes and phenotypes are no longer guides for human classifications, due to distinct evolutionary histories of the continents. Biologists claim that we have more genetic recombination in the chromosomes of African people than in Europeans or Asians. With the evolution of genomics, it is possible to establish connections with the remote ancestry of any person, however this link can be really away from the physical aspect of the individual, such as skin color, shape of nose, mouth or type of hair, socially referenced as racial or ethnic markers. Even with an appearance linked to social stereotypes of someone that may be from the African or American continent, the subject may have a European genetic connection, for example.

The question is, which ancestry has more value in today's world? Or why do blacks and Amerindians phenotypes have such a negative symbolic reference? Why do we react differently whether we face a black, a white or an indigenous individual in our daily lives? Is it possible that a teacher may look at their student and, just with their references fed by prevailing cultural patterns, think that the student's black appearance corresponds to a lack of learning possibilities and development in general? Could a young Kaingang girl be surprised in the stairs of an education college and be asked if she is really indigenous, simply by being there with books in her hands and some lipstick on her mouth? Why is it almost natural to think that the physician or researcher who is going to take care of us and inform us about a serious illness has white skin? Or why the professor who is going to present to us a brilliant conference must be white? Only from the point of view of biological sciences, these questions remain without significant answers, and race concepts still have lack of explanations. That is because, in fact, in the Brazilian case, we live in a highly racialized, deeply racist and discriminatory society.

In the perspective of social sciences, the concepts of race and ethnicity can only be understood as historical constructions, social inventions and, above all, cultural experiences. These constructs develop differently according to the society where they happen, everyday experience of relations among individuals, mediated by collective groups and institutions. In that sense, if we compare Brazil, South Africa and the United States, we observe that there are racial classification systems and ethnic relationships experienced differently in those societies, and this is confirmed by several reports of subjects who have suffered discrimination and prejudice.

So, what characterizes ethnic-racial relations in Brazil? Lília Moritz Schwarcz's studies (1998) notice that, historically, racism in Brazil is affirmed in the private and in the informality context, while the myth of good coexistence and racial democracy is consolidated in the representation of what is to be Brazilian. For the author, the specificities of our history from the perspective of racial-ethnic relations "[...] made inequality an internalized etiquette and discrimination a non-formalized space" (Schwarcz, 1988, p. 184).

In Rio Grande do Sul, the path is not different. Under the idea of a culturally diverse state, but mainly marked by European immigration, we grow up learning to think the South as not aware of its native people and disrespecting the portion of Africans who came here to build their lives. Ruben Oliven (1996) has shown us that what we think of Porto Alegre and Rio Grande do Sul is characterized by the idea of a whiter place with less miscegenation, whose major contribution to Brazil is related to the presence of European immigrants, particularly Italians and Germans, and Azorian Portuguese. This thought apprehended in the private context and in school historically contributed to the symbolic and social invisibility of black and indigenous people in Southern Brazil. The actual invention of traditions (Pesavento, 2004), concerning what is known as gaúcho, has created a new character little connected with memories and histories of Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people born here.

Let us take as an example studies about Porto Alegre of the 19th century, specifically about the African Colony that has been gradually erased from history. It was a space inhabited by blacks during the abolition period, but that also received immigrants who landed in Porto Alegre and did not go to Italian or German colonies. Such region was portrayed in literature and studies as marginal and marginalized. We know that black residents of the colony were removed from the region by the action of public authorities and real estate speculation (Kersting, 1998). However, more recent studies (Rosa, 2014) indicate that it was also the attitude of some residents of the African Colony, notably white immigrants, the reason for aversion for the place and its black residents - this contributed to their extinction. According to Rosa (2014, p. 276),

As pointed out by different studies, a long series of bad attributes such as 'character flaws', 'indolence', 'laziness', 'dirt' and even 'mess' has been assigned by travelers, chroniclers, memorialists and journalists, as a way to disqualification and depreciation that, since the 19th century, took as the main target the black population living in the city.

Nowadays, the urban space where the African Colony existed, in terms of real estate speculation, is one of the most expensive places in town and comprises neighborhoods such as Rio Branco, Bom Fim and Mont'Serrat. This small example makes us reflect on the fact that difficulties in racial-ethnic relations in the South are not recent phenomena, neither the race issue is submissive to the discussion of socioeconomic inequality, since it has its own status of inequality construction in social relations.

Let us bring another example regarding indigenous lands in the South. Archaeological and anthropological studies mention the presence of remote ancestors from Guarani and Kaingang people in Rio Grande do Sul; however, the struggle for the recognition of indigenous lands in our state is marked by silence and suffering. I quote Danilo Braga's research, entitled A História dos Kaingang na luta pela terra no Rio Grande do Sul: do silêncio à reação, à reconquista e a volta para casa (1940-2002) [The history of the Kaingang on the struggle for land in Rio Grande do Sul: from silence to reaction, to recapture and the journey back home]. The indigenous intellectual tells that,

From the silence, I chose this SPI [Indian Protection Service] period, that is from 1910, when it was founded, until the moment when the institution was closed in 1967. This SPI action concerning the Kaingang in the Southern region was not mentioned at all: whoever claimed some right was tied to the trunk of a tree, whipped, sent to jail, was transferred from one village to another - the person was considered a rebel. There was an attempt to silence the indigenous and make them accept the integration, that is, to westernise them. This also occurred in the SPI actions, in the education field, where, in the indigenous school, speaking our own language was forbidden; the idea was to turn indigenous into civilized people. During the 1960s, it was declared that the Kaingang were no longer indigenous people. They were completely civilized people (Anzolin, 2012, p. 187).

Presently we are experiencing an impasse about a possible transfer to the private initiative of part of the Itapuã State Park, located between Porto Alegre and Viamão, a place where Tekoa Pindó Mirim village, from Mbyá-Guarani ethnicity, is located. The regularization of these lands is slow and, even though the tupi-guarani archaeological sites in the region are technically recognized, the group safety in the area is not fully guaranteed. This is another evidence that we live in a racialized society.

Statistical data from the 2010 census (IBGE, 2012) show very visible traits that racial inequality has decreased little regarding education and income. In this survey, white people, as well as in the 2000 census, continue to receive higher salaries and study longer than blacks; they also have higher education in the country, and there are still relevant differences in the rate of illiteracy in the "color" and "race" categories. Thus, while for the total population, the illiteracy rate is 9.6%, among whites such index decreases to 5.9%. The 2010 census showed that about 70% of all Brazilian population has romantic relationships with people of the same group of color or race. The proportion of self-declared indigenous population in Brazil, since this category has been included as a possible answer to the question of race/skin color, has increased a lot, but we can observe significant changes from 1991 to 2000, when the population went from 0.2% to 0.43%. From 2000 to 2010, we had a small increase in the proportion because of a change in self-declaration mainly in the South and Southeast regions. In the last census, less people said they were indigenous in those two regions compared to the previous one. Some scholars (Ricardo, 2011) indicate the probability that this type of declaration may has moved towards to the "brown" category. In Brazil, according to the 2010 Census, there are 896,917 indigenous people. Among them, 324,834 live in urban centers and 572,083 live in rural areas. They are part of 240 indigenous nations, speakers of 150 languages. The estimates address the existence of about 1,000 indigenous nations before the arrival of the Europeans, totaling between 2 and 4 million people, the original inhabitants of the territory we now call Brazil14.

This data show the abyss that separates us and creates social opportunities according to criteria based on ethnicity and raciality. It is also particular the development of an idea conventionalized as racial democracy myth, systematized and disseminated by several Brazilian intellectuals in the 20th century, such as Gilberto Freyre. This notion is still present in part of the shared social imagination that portrays who we are as a nation and as people. It is also responsible, until today, for addressing cultural plurality and miscegenation as correspondents of a so-called harmonic coexistence between different ethnic-racial groups, which ignores the unequal possibilities of access and social ascension, characteristics of the Brazilian social organization. This is an inconsistency, because the racial democracy myth has already been rejected by the Brazilian government, at the World Conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

Maybe here resides part of the contradictions for the application and reception of laws and policies that criticize such imagery, mentalities and cultural practices in schools: the fact that, in general, we do not recognize the existence of racial inequality.

As a public space, schools face dilemmas to consolidate the confrontation of racist, discriminatory and prejudicial practices, since, as a sociocultural space, schools tend to reconstruct informality ruled by the lack of equality. In the history of Brazil, ethnic-racial discrimination is so intense that it was necessary to create movements to affirm the need to create a historical reparation context - in which we live nowadays. It is necessary to highlight that many Brazilians, organized in diverse ethnic-racial movements, such as blacks and indigenous, developed this process of claims and struggles related to positions and recent public policies in the country. This process must be observed in accordance with international agreements, conferences and diplomatic positions concerning topics as racism and intolerance, interfering with our role as educators and on our citizen commitments. Dealing with racism is dealing with what touches us on a daily basis, with the pain in others and in ourselves! The pain we can cause or prevent. That is why education on ethnic-racial relations is an essential theme. If we think that prejudices are constructed through discriminatory acts and are learned in socialization processes - in which school has a fundamental role -, we must be very serious with these themes concerning formal education.

Reception of Laws: affection to the cause and new stereotypes

This article results from partial analyses on the education network of Cachoeirinha, which were based on research (document analysis, interviews and discussion groups) and extension activities that include teacher training in discussion groups about ethnic-racial relations.

The intended contributions to the dialogue refer to the fact that research such as Junia Sales Pereira's (2011) - about teaching and reception of Laws 10639/2003 and 11.645/03 - demonstrate that this legislation has been the result of individual projects, usually elaborated by professionals who already have affective and political determination regarding issues of ethnic-racial inequality.

The data collection carried out in Cachoeirinha/RS reasserts the premise: what I call affection to the cause is what differentiates and stipulates the reception of article 26A in the study of African, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous histories and cultures, in History classes or other subjects in school. Simultaneously, the reception of these laws is marked by moral imperatives and resentment that can impose other History narratives, with less dialogue with historiography, thus creating new stereotypes and less pluralities.

Affection to the Cause: sensitive themes in the classroom

About the issue addressed by Oliveira Silveira... I already had that in my personal life. The theme always pleased me as a teenager and high school student. I loved watching soap operas, I loved watching movies; that was calling me, I didn't know why; but when there was something on TV about black issues, about discrimination, which was the focus at the time, I was very interested. And then I started to think: "hey girls, have you heard about November 20th? [Black Awareness Day in Brazil]. Next I brought the topic to school. One of them said "No, but people from Tiradentes school next door talk about it!"; and then we found out that Tiradentes school also had been working on this topic since 1986. Before the law. [...] So, we started to do activities about it. I used the historical perspective, because at that time we did not have this background, this knowledge, but I taught History (Interview 4, 2015).

I'm not criticizing, but this classroom experience creates another kind of sensibility. When people talk about books or teaching resources, I think, but it's so simple... There are other things that are not in books, things we don't understand. I believe that if we have a more sensible perception, we are driven to do these things. This poverty issue has moved me somehow at school X, so we could not be indifferent to this and to all the things that started to be built from that point onwards. I'm not a reference to speak about African culture; I want to be a reference to my black student [...] (Interview 3, 2014).

Affection to the cause or sensitiveness towards racism and ethnic-racial relations has delimited the actions and reception of Laws 10639/2003 and 11645/2008 in K-12 education. I connect this statement with the previous speech from a Pedagogy teacher and from a History teacher, stressing that, in Cachoeirinha, several stages of the research were marked by the observation of an awareness raising related to the work in peripheral schools. It was also related to personal trajectories associated with ethnic-racial issues and the participation in social movements. In general, black professionals or professionals with some affection to the ethnic-racial diversity cause are the ones who are more engaged in discussing the topic with the K-12 education adolescents and children. In two interviews, there were emotional moments and the recording had to stop, precisely because of memories evoked by the issue. These are the so-called controversial topics addressed by historiography and in the teaching of History. The point is that we are dealing with a mandatory curriculum, in which it still predominates a resistance to these topics, even in higher education. A mapping based on the curricula of History courses in institutions of higher education in Rio Grande do Sul shows that, in those curricular frameworks, we can also see that these topics are not mandatory, which opens spaces for individual actions of university teachers affected by them, such as offering elective subjects. Please observe Pictures 1 and 2:

Picture 1: Compilation of the Presence of Indigenous Topics in the Curricula of History Courses in Higher Education Institutions in Rio Grande do Sul 

IHE -Institution of Higher Education Presence of indigenous histories and cultures in the titles of mandatory subjects Presence of indigenous histories and culture in titles of non-mandatory subjects Presence of indigenous histories and cultures in the summary or mandatory subjects program Presence of indigenous histories and cultures in the summary or non-mandatory course subjects program Presence of indigenous histories and cultures in Pedagogical Political Plan of the course Presence of African-Brazilian and African History and Culture in mandatory curriculum
UFRGS No Yes Yes Yes No, but offers elective subjects
PUCRS No No Yes Yes Yes
FAPA No Yes Yes Yes Yes
UNISINOS No No Yes Yes Yes
FEEVALE No No - - Yes
FACCAT No No - - No

Source: Elaborated by Marilise Moscardini dos Passos (2014), based on the compilation of indigenous topics in the curricula of History courses in Rio Grande do Sul.

Picture 2: Compilation of African and Afro-Brazilian Topics in the Curricula of History Courses in Higher Education Institutions in Rio Grande do Sul 

IHE - Institution of Higher Education Presence of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in the titles of course mandatory subjects Presence of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in the titles of non-mandatory subjects Presence of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in the summary or program of mandatory course subjects Presence of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in the summary or program of non-mandatory course subjects Presence of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture in the Pedagogical Political Plan of the course
UFRGS No Yes Yes Yes Not directly
PUCRS Yes _ Yes _ _
FAPA Yes Yes Partially Yes Yes
UNISINOS Yes _ Yes _ Yes
ULBRA Yes _ Partially _ No
FEEVALE Yes _ No _ _
UNILASALLE Yes _ Yes _ Yes
FACCAT No _ _ _ _
FACOS Yes Yes _ _ _

Source: Elaborated by Marilise Moscardini dos Passos, based on the compilation of African and Afro-Brazilian topics in the curricula of History courses in Institutions of Higher Education in Rio Grande do Sul.

At first sight, it is possible to observe that in the curricular approach of indigenous histories and cultures in higher education, there is smaller presence of compulsory requirement. It is important to evaluate the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in this context, pondering that Higher Education Institutions, such as the ones in Bahia, have History of Africa as a mandatory subject in the History course since 1998. The preliminary consideration of Higher Education Institutions curricula also shows that the educational approach of ethnic-racial relations is not yet a subject of direct confrontation in higher education.

I recall an observation made in the monitoring process of teaching practices of History course trainees. It was the end of a beautiful class on slavery and black resistance in the history of Brazil (high school class):

The trainee teacher asks about a student called Joana, who had been absent in the classes. João says that she wouldn't come back to school because Junior had an argument with her. Many laugh because of what João just said. Junior confirms to the teacher that they had an argument and justifies it by saying that the girl had spoken nonsense - she would have said that everyone is a racist. The teacher asks what they think of it and just hear a majority saying that they are not racist and that Joana spoke nonsense anyway. After this, the young trainee confessed his insecurity in dealing with the matter (lecture notes, 2014)15.

Even those who are aware do not always know how to act when the subject stops being conceptual/content and becomes form/relational as well. Form and content are inseparable when we deal with discussions on ethnic-racial relations. Some questions are relevant: What if I have to deal with racism in my History class? Should I act based on my ethical positions? Should I avoid the silence? Should I address problematic issues or just simple questions? If something like the abovementioned situation happens: What did you mean by that? Did Joana really speak nonsense? In any case, the objective of this reflection is not to become prescriptive about the law application; on the contrary, I want to question myself about how our research can achieve the repercussion of these individual and collective actions in the perspective of ethnic-racial relations discussed in Brazilian schools.

I do not believe that only a didactic approach of such content and its insertion in mandatory curricula meet the demands concerning the context of racial inequality in our country, correlate to the legal obligation and the article 26A. I believe that we can deal with racism without just reverberating this concept from a didactic point of view or only focusing on contents. How? It is urgent to promote debates based on the knowledge constructed by black and indigenous intellectuals; listening to the memories and histories narrated by them will change our way of thinking and acting as educators and researchers. It seems that intercultural dialogue is an important concept in this analysis.

Intercultural Dialogue and Ethnic-Racial Relations

Maria Aparecida Bergamaschi and Luana Barth Gomes (2012) point out that interculturality researchers, such as Nestor Garcia Canclini, claim that nowadays indigenous nations are the most prepared ones for intercultural dialogues. According to Neusa Vaz e Silva (2009, p. 44), "[...] relations among cultures must be based on practical observation of the right of every culture to be itself". It is not always possible to observe this openness to the dialogue in the discussion on the new curricula with ethnic-racial guidelines. Bergamaschi and Gomes (2012, p. 55) point out the fact that,

Despite colonization, genocide, exploitation, catechization, the attempt to insert indigenous people into the national society, they are still here, resisting, even if sometimes in silence. They show strength, in a political movement of ethnic affirmation, showing that here they are and will stay here. In the contact with others, they are always tested about their ethnic identities, once the conception that predominates in non-indigenous societies is that they are people from the past, not realizing cultural dynamics, which is normal in all societies, makes them incorporate some elements of the Western culture, which does not mean that they no longer identify themselves as indigenous (our translation).

In the Brazilian case, interculturality is related to more intense actions towards an equality context that can establish the premises for the recognition of rights in the dialogue among different cultures. We had a huge advance with affirmative action policies, in which is included the reception of the laws under consideration in this text. However, we must recognize that we still live in a society marked by inequality, and this includes the ethnic-racial point of view. Sometimes, in the application of these laws, we observed a talking about the other behavior without necessarily talking to him/her. Therefore, the connection between the referential that deals with intercultural dialogue and the legal basis that proposes the discussion of ethnic-racial relations in schools is favorable at this point.

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Report entitled Investing in cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, published in 2009, has solid arguments about the importance of investing in cultural diversity as an essential dimension of intercultural dialogue, to create strategies for sustainable development and to ensure the exercise of freedoms and human rights.

The affection to the cause seems to relate to the teacher sensitivity in perceiving more than a student, understanding the youth and the child, sometimes in situations of social vulnerability and ethnic-racial discrimination. Racism makes people suffer and creates unequal relationships from the social point of view.

New Stereotypes or Dated Misconceptions

The analysis of Laws 10639/2003 and 11645/2008 reception in certain formal education collectives evidences the role of research committed to the advancement of education under the perspective of cultural diversity and ethnic-racial equity in our country. It may point critically at elements of historical reparation context, able to generate what I identify as dated misconceptions, which can be evaluated. Junia Sales Pereira (2012) indicates in her research that in laws reception there is "[...] a preponderance of approaches that would belong more to the culture field than to the history field, with no critical flow or care with historical and historiographical information" (Pereira, 2012, p. 318).

I have observed in Cachoeirinha a trajectory marked by pedagogical practices concerning reception actions of the LDBEN article 26, with studies of Afro-Brazilian culture always happening in November, during the Black Awareness Week, without continuity in other conjunctures. Such studies receive a greater attention depending on how municipal and local managements interfere or not as proposal makers and protagonists.

By making the masks... I didn't know much about the origins, but bringing this stuff, about the other, the representation, we did not know the country of origin. We are not historians who have knowledge, but for children this is ludic, it is another possible representation of the self, it is something else, so it doesn't have to be historically dated to be relevant to someone. This is my issue with History; at school is something else, because you work with strong feelings, you need to make the child to feel inside a context, because they have nothing. A play dough, a gourd, as we did in a given year, to play, to have fun, things you don't have at home, that is why Afro-Brazilian culture doesn't need to be dated (Interview 2, 2014).

The teacher refers to a process in the Black Awareness Week that happens in schools, which is based on a specific sector (Diversity) of the municipal Department of Education. During the interview, she realized the limits of this action and connects it with the fact that there is a disagreement with what is proposed by the community of historians on the subject.

Sometimes, we create new stereotypes when dealing with Africa in a singular way instead of a plural one. Can African masks create new stereotypes? Not necessarily, but we need to think about it. Maybe November 20th and the cultural manifestations of Black Awareness Week at schools, such as capoeira, are part of a particular dated implementation of LDBEN article 26 A. They can invent new traditions, such as: all Africans wear masks; all Afro-Brazilians like capoeira or practice specific religions. The same analysis can be carried out when considering the simplification of indigenous issues in the Indigenous Week, i.e., homogenization and stereotyping (Bergamaschi; Gomes, 2012).

We are interested in the wealth of cultural multiplicities developed in the process of exchanges and mixing, to understand the complexity of the social and historical universe built on ethnic-racial encounters. Several histories can be studied and told about individuals and groups who have played (and still do) relevant roles among experiences of various worlds, in the path of resistance, acceptances, conflicts and dialogues between ways of living and thinking about ourselves and the other. These are unique histories, but they are not only part of a single history to be narrated.

Is there a Gaúcho Way to Receive Law 10639/2003?

It seems weird to answer such a question. So far, the analysis temporarily constructed connects what happens in Rio Grande do Sul with studies conducted in other spaces and does not establish differentiations. But here is the point: either the question is mistakenly formulated or it requires more reflection on its achievement.

I finish by commenting a possible social responsibility of History teachers in relation to the reception of LDBEN article 26 A: to study, justify and teach indigenous and African philosophical roots and world views currently expressed as inheritances of ancestries from those who, in this territory, have rebuilt their lives and their ethnic-racial belonging. Such narratives do not favor a single way of existing and being in the world, as a reference and pattern, but explore differences under the perspective of dialogue and plurality. The History teacher can contribute to the current process of historical reparation by giving visibility and positivity for indigenous, African and Afro-Brazilian histories and cultures.

Since these are sensitive issues, marked by silencing and pain, it is possible to understand that they are permeated by resentment. According to Pereira (2012, p. 318), it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that

[...] perhaps one of the greatest challenges faced by history teachers these days resides on the problem of teaching-learning without the reverberation of pains from the past in the present. How to do it without suppressing information, denying the past or mythicize processes? How to do it also aiming at overcoming resentment, but without creating false narratives or new illusions?

There is an ongoing discussion about the so-called Public History: the history that becomes shared by other diffusers than the community of historians, diffusers mainly related to social media and organized movements. It is worth to remember that in the specific case of Law 10639/2003, the text of the National Curricular Guidelines for Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations and for the Teaching of Afro-Brazilian and African History and Culture represents an example in this perspective. But we must question: How to preserve quality levels without creating prejudice relations? How to promote dialogue? How does this topic is addressed by History Teaching?

Representations about the historical knowledge to be taught do not depend only on historiographic production, but are also related to social representations constructed in popular imagination, from diverse sources of information, such as social groups, families, media, organized movements, among others. The teaching of ethnic-racial relations requires an interaction with sensitive and controversial topics, with traumatic events such as slavery, genocide and inequality present in racial-ethnic relations. Teaching History can also mean enlarging possibilities of thinking the difference, contributing to the promotion of relations based on values such as social justice, ethics and citizenship.

Translation Proofreader: Ananyr Porto Fajardo


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1By the coast nagô remained from the North to the South./ Remained in Recife:/ shango./ In Bahia remained candomblé./ What we have in Rio Grande?/ - Batuque, tchê./ Son of saint wearing bombacha, Ogum eating barbecue: the gaucho's way of black batuque. ON THE MAP (Oliveira Silveira, 2012, our translation)

2Researcher, poet, acknowledged as a black personality by Fundação Cultural Palmares for being one of the idealizers of turning the November 20th into the Black Awareness Day in Brazil.

3Notes by Vherá Poty, chief of Tekoa Pindó Mirim village, in the extension course 'Dialogues with History Teaching: dialogues with indigenous and African stories - Guarani History and Culture' in October 1st, 2014, promoted by the Laboratory of History Teaching and Education of UFRGS.

4The document that supports the text of the Law 10639/2003 and indicates guidelines for its proper treatment at schools is the National Curricular Guidelines for the Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations and for History, Afro-Brazilian and African Culture Teaching (Document CNE-CP 003/2004). For Indigenous History and Culture teaching, there are no national curricular guidelines yet. In 2012, National Curricular Guidelines for Indigenous School Education were adopted (Document CNE-CEB 013/2012) as well as National Curricular Guidelines for Quilombola School Education (Document CNE/CEB 016/2012).

5This text was provided by Law 11645/2008. The text given by Law 10639/2003 is: Art. 26-A. Art. 26-A. In primary and secondary schools, whether public or private, teaching of African-Brazilian History and Culture becomes mandatory. (Included by Law 10639, from September 1st, 2003). §1 The syllabus referred to in the Caput of this article will include the study of history of Africa and Africans, the struggle of blacks in Brazil, Brazilian black culture and blacks in the formation of Brazilian society, reestablishing the contribution of black people in social, economic and policy areas relevant to Brazilian history (Included by Law 10639, from September 1st, 2003). The content referring to the Afro-Brazilian history and culture shall be taught within the school curriculum, especially the areas of Artistic Education and Brazilian History and Literature (Included by Law 10639, from September 1st, 2003) § 3 (VETOED); (Included by Law 10639, from September 1st, 2003). Available from>. Access on: 4.15.2015.

6References about moral imperatives and History teaching in Christian Laville (2011).

7Available data from <>. Accessed on: August 10th. 2015.

8Notebook records in History Teaching Licensure - High School, Porto Alegre, 2014.

Received: December 28, 2015; Accepted: July 20, 2016

Carla Beatriz Meinerz holds a degree in History, with Master and Doctoral degrees in Education. Assistant professor, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, School of Education of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Email:

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