We look like chameleons: identity (re)constructions in a group of Cape Verdean students in RJ

The paper is based on a research developed with students from the archipelago of Cape Verde, situated in the west coast of Africa. These students moved to Rio de Janeiro in order to get a college degree. The investigation, which resulted in a master's dissertation, focuses on the identity (re)construction processes experienced by those youngsters, most of whom identified by Brazilians as Blacks and Africans. In an attempt to contextualize the impact of this external categorization over these students, the paper shows how, historically, the Cape Verdean intellectual elite has constructed a speech that considers miscegenation as a national identity specificity. Even though being influenced by Gilberto Freyre's ideas, this speech was intended to dissociate the Cape Verdeans from a stigmatized Black heritage, in opposition to Freyre's intention to valorize non-whites. Considering this background, the research suggests that the contact with the current Brazilian society, made possible by the study experience, helped them to develop a more critical view regarding this speech, which occurred simultaneously to the valorization of an African identity. For this and other reasons, this process is apparently relatedto the implementation of identity policies in Rio de Janeiro, the first Brazilian state with a university establishing quotas for Black students.

students; Cape Verdeans; identities; physical mobility; ethnicity

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