The article describes how the series of studies into race relations in Brazil was structured in the 1950s, under the auspices of Unesco. By focusing on the actions of certain social actors and their respective views regarding this intellectual undertaking, it is possible to establish the links between the demands of the international agency and the range of questions that were being raised by Brazilian social scientists. These questions composed an agenda defined by Arthur Ramos in the late 1940s, which challenged the Brazilian university-based intelligentsia to associate its professional enhancement with increased research directed at what Ramos considered the singularity of Brazil, its condition of a "laboratory of civilization". For Ramos, the topic of race relations had a special status in the perception and analysis of the difficulties associated with the transition from tradition to modernity, of a scenario filled with remarkable social and racial inequalities, of regional diversity and of the construction of a definitive national identity.
Race relations in Brazil; History of Social Sciences in Brazil; Brazilian social thinking; Arthur Ramos; Unesco