Affirmative Action in Brazil : mapping the significance of transformations in the state and the Movimento Negro Unificado
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This research suggests that the historical context of the 1990s in Brazil provoked the state and the Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU) to undergo specific political transformations with regard to their traditional views, ideologies and preferred strategies for dealing with race and racial inequality. The majority of mainstream literature on affirmative action suggests that the appearance of affirmative action was accompanied by radical shifts in the states policy on race (Gomes 2005, Htun 2004, Medeiros 2005, Mitchell 2006 and Vieira 2005). On the other hand, this literature rarely, if ever, considers the shifts in policies and organizing that occurred in the MNU in order for a policy of affirmative action to become a possibility (Hanchard, 1994). This research corrects for this inefficiency in the mainstream literature by re-centering the significant role that the shifts and ruptures in the MNU had in making affirmative action and other institutional efforts for overcoming inequality and racism in Brazil a possibility. By exploring the historical moment that gave rise to affirmative action, and comparing the state and MNUs traditional posture on racial inequality with the new posture that emerged alongside affirmative action policies, it is possible to re-think the nature of the shifts in the state and the MNU and the ways those shifts made policies like affirmative action a possibility. Therefore, this thesis suggests that opting for a politics of Affirmative action represents a re-articulation of the Movimento Negro, just as much as it represents a shift in the Brazilian states policy and rhetoric on race. Furthermore, this research suggests that affirmative action was a bottom-up policy, nurtured by the dynamics of the historical moment and made possible by the MNUs intense pressure on the state. This research also examines how the shifts in the state and the MNU, which facilitated specific changes in their methods and motivations for dealing with racial inequality, are still shaping the very nature of the current affirmative action debate in Brazil.