Miscegenation or miscegenation means the mixture of elements of different ethnicities, religions, art, and which will originate a third element.

Miscegenation is one of the outstanding characteristics of the Brazilian people and culture. However, over time, this concept has been used by various ideologies to justify the country’s qualities or defects.

Ethnic miscegenation

Ethnic miscegenation occurs among people who do not have the same characteristics of physical biotype.

We must not use the word “race” to refer to this phenomenon, because for human beings there is only one race: the human race. Currently, it is preferred to use the term “ethnicity” to differentiate between different human groups.

For the purpose of study, humanity is divided into three major ethnic groups: white, black and yellow. The latter includes indigenous people.

Children of different ethnicities

There will be miscegenation, for example, when a black person and a white person generate a child. Therefore, miscegenation is not considered when two people with the same skin color, even if they belong to different nationalities, manage another individual.

It is important to highlight that ethnicity is not to be confused with nationality. For example: what will be the ethnicity of the son of a German and a Swedish (or vice versa)? We know that most Germans and Swedes are white, but what about those who are immigrants, but have German or Swedish nationality? Thus, the concept of nationality is more comprehensive than that of ethnicity.

Miscegenation in the 19th century

In the second half of the 19th century, part of the Brazilian elite wondered about the reasons for Brazil’s backwardness in relation to other countries. One of the most widespread ideas, especially for Positivism, was that miscegenation was not a good thing.

Thus, the process of laundering the population begins, with the arrival of several European immigrants to work on coffee farms.

Part of the elite believed that whites would unite with blacks and they would disappear from national territory.

See also: Positivism

Miscegenation in the First Republic (1889-1930)

With the Proclamation of the Republic, on November 15, 1889, a series of authors emerged who argue that Brazil was mestizo and this was something that should be overcome.

In this way, miscegenation is seen as something negative. For this to happen, mestizos must whiten, as white is considered the “superior” ethnicity.

Books like “ Os Sertões ”, by Euclides da Cunha, appear, which also emphasize the geographical environment so that a people can flourish and progress.

See also: Os Sertões, by Euclides da Cunha

Miscegenation in the Vargas Era – 1930s and 1940s

With the publication of “ Casa-Grande e Senzala ”, by Gilberto Freyre, miscegenation gains a positive value.

According to Freyre, the miscegenation of ethnicities produced a country where they lived in harmony, without major social conflicts. The expression “racial democracy” was used to define Brazil.

Although Freyre breaks with the pessimistic notion of the positivists, his theory ended up masking the social problems that blacks and indigenous people suffered in Brazil. After all, these two groups had no representation in the Brazilian elite.

See also: Gilberto Freyre

Miscegenation in the second half of the 20th century

After the Second World War (1939-1945), the world is undergoing a profound revision of the concepts of race, ethnicity and nation. The conflict, which was especially hard on minorities, opened up space for discussions on this topic.

The decolonization movement in Africa and the struggles for black civil rights in the United States give rise to a new way of thinking about miscegenation.

Some interpretations used Marxist economic theories to explain the phenomenon, such as the thinker Florestan Fernandes . In this way, it is clear that in Brazil, the darker a person’s skin, the more they would have less chance of social ascension.

See also: Decolonization of Africa

Miscegenation and Whitening

Currently, the concept of miscegenation has been questioned in Brazil. This reflection arises from the moment when the miscegenates realize that they would be in a kind of limbo, between black and white.

The movement in favor of racial quotas also helped to question the definition of mestizo in Brazil.

Generally, people who have black ancestors, but have fair skin color, do not identify themselves as black, but as white.

Miscegenation is only seen in a positive way the lighter the skin color, the smoother the hair and the less pronounced the nose, for example.

For this reason, the condition of the miscegenated has been revised. This helped authors such as Machado de Assis or composer Chiquinha Gonzaga , to be claimed as black.


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