Race, colour, and skin colour in Brazil

The article, now in press, will appear in Ethnic and Racial Studies.

The contemporary anti-racist zeal is banning the word ‘race’ of our everyday vocabulary. This practice was sanctioned by UNESCO in the postwar years and is now widespread in the press in Brazil. ‘Skin colour’ became the morally correct way to refer to physical differences before covered by the idea of ‘race’. Such a development would be inconsequential if the contemporary social sciences had not included in our vocabulary ‘skin colour’ as a natural concept, morally neutral. In this article, taking a Brazilian perspective, where ‘colour’ was historically constructed as a variant of ‘race’, I try to show the deception of such a naturalistic practice, and suggest that the classification of people by ‘skin colour’, not only has its foundation in the idea of race, but tends to bipolarity, unlike the Brazilian concept of ‘colour’, which is based on the ideology of whitening.

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