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Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Abstract

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor--an era when black slavery shifted to "yellow labor" and racial anxieties surged. I ask how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil's nation-building project, which prioritized "whitening," a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, I interrogate how Chinese and Japanese expansionist ambitions via labor exportation reinforced Brazil's whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

Lee, Ana Paulina. Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018.

In Mandarin Brazil, I explore the centrality of Sinophobia to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. I consider depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents such as Brazilian and Qing dynasty correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, the book reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

 

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