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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Integration of the White into the Community of Color, or How the Europeans Became Brazilian in the Twentieth Century


Studies of immigrant integration in Europe and North America generally assume that immigrants are less white and considered less “modern” than the nationals of the countries where they arrive. In this essay, my purpose is to examine what happens when we apply the idea of “immigrant integration” to European immigrants who arrived in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. These immigrants and their descendants have faced a contradiction between integrating into a national “imagined community,” constructed as “mixed-race,” and participating in local, national and global projects of (white) “modernity.” The paper explores how this contradiction was historically constructed in Brazil, how some Brazilians of European descent resolved it, and how we can think of the relationship between race, modernity, nationhood and immigrant integration from a more global perspective.

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