Migration and intercultural identities in relation to border regions location:Kortrijk: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven date:27-29 May 2010
Migration is a leading example of a historical process that has led to our contemporary world, which is typified by intense global relationships between people, capital, commodities and ideologies. Throughout history, human populations have constantly constructed their cultures in interaction with one another, crossing and levelling out borders.
This paper shows how Brazil is characterised by ethnic diversity, due to these processes of interaction and migration. The several populations that have met, have dealt with each other and each other’s culture in a unique way. Already during slavery, a tradition of race mixture was established in Brazilian society, which set the stage for the development of race relations after the abolishment of slavery. Also, African culture has been given a central position in Brazilian national culture.
At the same time however, significant levels of segregation along ethnic lines can be found in this same society. Scientists have shown that miscegenation is not necessarily the reality of Brazilian social behaviour. The distribution of societal wealth in Brazil is the most unequal in the world and is largely divided along racial lines.
The paper focuses on a case study in the city Palmas, which was founded only at the end of the twentieth century. Consequently, recent migration, especially from inside Brazil, has heavily influenced the city population. The paper shows that residential proximity and interaction between whites and non-whites is largely limited to the poor neighbourhoods of the city. In the rest of the city, segregation along ethnic and racial lines can be found. Subtle racism continues to exist; deriving from a way of thinking that naturalizes the racial hierarchy. This racist culture is reinforced, naturalized and legitimated through different mediums, like the use of stereotypes and racial humour.
Several ethnic movements are active in the city. Special about these movements is the fact that they consciously use their ethnic identity to confront the forces that subordinate them and to influence the ethnicity debate in the city. The paper investigates how they do this and if they succeed in attaining their goals.