Call for papers Vol. 6 no. 2

Affirmative Action Revisited: Impacts of recent policy and discourse on race and social inequality in Brazil

Despite empirical data on social and ethnic indicators showing persistent and pervasive discrimination, Brazil was generally considered to have no “need” for policies of Affirmative Action (AA), given its powerful, longstanding national narrative of a “racial democracy”. Globally, AA has a history of more than half a century. As a policy and as a research topic, it was already considered inefficient and outmoded by the 1990s, replaced by other minority or diversity policies and approaches. However, public universities in Brazil, including the most prestigious ones, began experimenting with AA policies in 2002, with some implementing racial quotas. There arose a broad, unprecedentedly intensive debate among the scientific community, politicians, the courts and the media, which divided society sharply along hitherto invisible lines. Within a decade, with widespread support, Brazil passed a federal law mandating quotas at all Federal Universities: 50% of their vacancies to be reserved for public school students, in line with the ethnic composition of each state. How could this paradox between verifiable reality and national myth be sustained for so long? How was such a rapid institutionalization of AA possible? What is actually the outcome of these policies, especially in comparison with other policies which target racial and social inequalities?

Based on these preliminary observations, Brasiliana proposes to open an academic space of debate, critical reflection, and expression of knowledge that could offer a wider range of positions and production on the topic of Brazil’s policies against racial and social inequalities with a special focus on the introduction of AA between 2002 and 2012. From this we expect a new understanding of minority policies and societal consensus-building.

Various topics come to assume a prominent position among the fundamental debates related to the topic. In this special issue we propose for example to explore the process of implementation and the negotiation of a new consensus during the experimental phase (2002-2012), with special regard to the scientific evaluation/dissemination of results, along with the strategic accommodation of (uncomfortable) race-based demands within a broader class-centered framing as “social inclusion”. Furthermore we suggest drawing attention to the biggest obstacle to implementation: the historical imaginary of Brazil’s uniqueness as a “racial democracy”. This self-portrayal entwined with national identity, inhibited and delayed race-based approaches to social inequalities. These approaches can open a window for understanding how conflicts and negotiations, despite the presence of a hegemonic imaginary of a post-racial or even non-racist society and contentious debate, can lead to a new social consensus. Lastly, we invite authors to explore critically the phenomenon that while AA has strongly broadened opportunities for political inclusion in terms of power resources, almost no reduction of social inequality in terms of positions and groups has occurred. This approach can demonstrate how race-related policies become a tool for broadening social participation yet fall short of redistributing wealth, which stresses the necessity of supplementary policies.

The dossier is open to discussions and critical analyses regarding these topics and seeks to bring together contributions and reflections on the theme. The Journal will accept articles with foundations in diverse areas of knowledge, such as sociology, anthropology, public policies, history, law, linguistics or any other relevant perspective.

Articles should be submitted online before October 1, 2017 (see authors page for details).

This issue will be co-edited by Georg Wink.


Brasiliana continues to accept submissions of articles on Brazil in general and reviews of recent publications for its other sections.

For publication guidelines, please see the journal's website:

Dr. Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho

Chief-Editor of Brasiliana – Journal for Brazilian Studies

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