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Paradigms for interpreting racial relations in Brazil

Three paradigms can be distinguished in the study of racial relations in Brazil during the nineteenth century. The first of them, the dark-complexion [morenidade] paradigm, is associated to Gilberto Freyre. Despite seeming disagreements, however, it is shared by Marvin Harris and Carl Degler, whose formulations about "a referential ambiguity in the assessment of racial identity" and "neither Black nor White" have essentially the same meaning as "dark-complexioned". A second paradigm relates to Florestan Fernandes, who stresses the purely residual nature of racial prejudice and inequality in Brazil. The third one, chiefly associated to Carlos Hasenbalg, states that persistent racial discrimination is the cause of inequality between Whites and non-Whites in the realms of economy, education, and other social indicators. The differences between those paradigms as well as among authors who adhere to substantially identical ones result largely from different models of history and development.

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