Notícias de um levante Black women scholars in Brazil : feitiço, insubmissão, etno(orí)grafia and critical intervention in the university

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2019-05

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This dissertation analyzes Black women scholars’ contemporary politics in Brazil within the context of post-Affirmative Actions and the emergence of a Black political agenda centered on institutional interventions informed by the notion of “racial equality” (Ribeiro 2013). In approaching Black women scholars, I mean those who have been working as professors and professional researchers in public universities in Brazil. After 2001, the Affirmative Actions policies gained particular interest among politicians across a large ideological spectrum, most notably of Left-wing parties, resulting in certain points of this agenda gradually obtaining space in the political platforms of these parties. This culminated in 2002, when Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, the most important Workers’ Party leader in Latin America, won the presidential election, and the Affirmative Actions and the Racial Equality project dreamed, elaborated, and claimed over decades by generations of Black activists in Brazil was finally institutionalized in the Federal Government’s agenda. In this dissertation, I discuss how political experiences of intervention in the Brazilian gendered racial context conducted by Black women scholars, intellectuals, and activists has been crafting a specific vocabulary to talk about this social context. Consequently, I am attentive to the strategies from which this political archive has been transmitted and shared to the benefit of the Black community. I use a methodology that merges anthropological research techniques with Afro-Brazilian analytical frames, thus I bring the notion of Etno(Ori)grafia/Etno(Ori)graphy as a written model and fieldwork method. The dissertation explores analytical categories which came from the Black women Jeje Mahi spiritual archives, and I apply the categories of Surron, Anajajô, Zandró and Gboitá in order to describe and interrogate aspects of Black women scholars’ political activism inside the University in Brazil, as well as their life trajectories. Instead of using the concept of “radical” to indicate a Black politics fully committed to social transformation, I bring Conceição Evaristo’s idea of the Insubmissa subject, as a lens that helps to foreground Black women actions that, according to my arguments, has been immersed in Afro-Brazilian spiritual epistemologies. Finally, I approach Trance to describe how Black women have been acting and manipulating the reality around them/us, including in classrooms. Trance is a state of existing, voicing, self-naming, remembering and being present!

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