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The Challenges for Anti-racists in Bolsonaro’s Brazil

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-233
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Iberian and Latin American Studies
Issue number2
Published28 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The research for this essay was funded by a Leverhulme Foundation Major Research Fellowship. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


What should we make of the recent neo-racist turn in Brazil–the eruption of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous hate-speech on the part of senior government officials, including President Jair Bolsonaro, combined with institutional attacks on the multi-culturalist consensus of the last two decades? While symptomatic of Bolsonarismo’s determination to roll back the previous forty years of social justice reforms, the far Right’s recent attacks on multiculturalism and the collapse of earlier consensual models of “race” and nation have both exposed a deeper underlying continuity in the racialisation of Brazilian society, above all its class character–something the Black movement’s contemporary focus on the affirmative action agenda has failed to address. The new racism should really be understood as the Neoliberal project’s reassertion of the particular historical form of racial capitalism that Bolsonarismo was appointed to reinstate, which routinely disposes of Brazil’s Afro-descendant majority as an “edge population” straddling the frontiers between inclusion and exclusion. If there is to be any prospect of rebuilding an opposition to Neoliberalism that can speak to that Black majority, the anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggles must be integrated, and anti-racism must become a priority for the Left, not merely one among many “social justice” causes, but Brazil’s national question.

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