W.E.B Du Bois on Brazil: The Dialogue between Black People across Americas on Decolonization

Juliana Goes, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, W.E.B. Du Bois was studying, writing and publishing on Brazil. Nevertheless, his initial writings on the South American countries helped to spread out the racial democracy myth, a theory that was based on the genocide of Afro-Brazilians. It was only after the 1940s, that Du Bois shifted his position and became one of the intellectuals to help to deconstruct this myth. In the transition to the Second World War to the Cold War, he looked to Brazil focusing on the poverty of Afro-Brazilians connecting this to colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. By this time Du Bois began to advocate for the need to implement a real democracy in Brazil and in the United States. During this period, he was in dialogue with Brazilian peace and communist activists. This paper is an investigation into Du Bois’s shifting relationship with Brazil and the racial democracy myth. It traces the shifts in Du Bois’ position on Brazil through the dialogic politics on race and capitalism with Brazilian intellectuals and activists that changed his perspective on the South American country. Finally, this paper is a reflection on international solidarity, on the importance of the dialogue between the Black diaspora and what is the implications of this dialogue for the liberation projects developed during and after 1940s.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 163. The Histories and Vocabularies of Liberation: Before and after 1948