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Racial Projects and Group Identities in Comparative Perspective - as part of our Sociology job talks

The CEU Campus
Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology cordially invites you to the following Sociology job talk:

“Racial Projects and Group Identities in Comparative Perspective: Perceptions and Attitudes in Brazil, South Africa and the United States”: This research examines why race becomes a salient political cleavage in certain societies but not in others. Studying three societies marked by racial inequalities but that have experienced particular racial dynamics -- Brazil, South Africa, and the United States -- I assess why their racial formation processes resulted in strongly politicized racial identities in the two latter cases but not in the former. I contend that, when a nation formation process explicitly emphasizes racial hierarchies and the state apparatus is deployed for the enforcement of racial group boundaries in order to enact discriminatory policies against subordinate groups, such as the Apartheid in South Africa and the Jim Crow laws in the Southern United States, those processes (unintentionally) contribute to the reinforcement of major social cleavages and to the formation of group consciousness among the members of political minorities. Where group boundaries remain relatively permeable and unenforced, such as in Brazil, similar processes of group identity and consciousness formation are mostly absent. To illustrate the argument, I examine group differences in perceptions of discrimination and in political trust using cross-national survey data. Findings indicate robust differences in institutional trust across race groups in South Africa and the United States but not in Brazil. Results on perceived discrimination show that non-Whites do report higher levels of perceived discrimination compared to Whites but the gap is conditional on the context the type of discrimination. Overall, results support the theoretical claim that the politicization of racial identities is contingent on the politicization and the enforcement of group boundaries. Once politicized, those identities have important political consequences.