Cover of Race on the Move by Tiffany D. Joseph
Race on the Move
Brazilian Migrants and the Global Reconstruction of Race
Tiffany D. Joseph


240 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804792202
Paperback ISBN: 9780804794350
Ebook ISBN: 9780804794398

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Race on the Move takes readers on a journey from Brazil to the United States and back again to consider how migration between the two countries is changing Brazilians' understanding of race relations. Brazil once earned a global reputation as a racial paradise, and the United States is infamous for its overt social exclusion of nonwhites. Yet, given the growing Latino and multiracial populations in the United States, the use of quotas to address racial inequality in Brazil, and the flows of people between each country, contemporary race relations in each place are starting to resemble each other.

Tiffany Joseph interviewed residents of Governador Valadares, Brazil's largest immigrant-sending city to the U.S., to ask how their immigrant experiences have transformed local racial understandings. Joseph identifies and examines a phenomenon—the transnational racial optic—through which migrants develop and ascribe social meaning to race in one country, incorporating conceptions of race from another. Analyzing the bi-directional exchange of racial ideals through the experiences of migrants, Race on the Move offers an innovative framework for understanding how race can be remade in immigrant-sending communities.

About the author

Tiffany D. Joseph is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Affiliated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Stony Brook University.

"I certainly recommend Race on the Move. I particularly appreciated the way in which Joseph resisted an over-simplistic demonization of the racial democracy ideology as producing a generalized denial of racism; much to the contrary, her subjects had no problem recognizing structural racism. I also sensed a deep respect for her research subjects and their ways of understanding the world . . . [Joseph] masterfully framed these narratives and showed how they engage theory, but did so in such harmony with the subjects' voices as to not overpower or muddle them. Her transnational racial optic reveals itself to be a formidable analytic tool."

—Stanley R. Bailey, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"Sociologist Joseph (Stony Brook Univ.) presents a convincing case of a 'transnational racial optic' being developed among Brazilian migrants . . . This study reminds readers of how powerful racism and anti-blackness continue to be and that a transnational framework is crucial for analyzing how race operates within nations as well as hemispherically . . . Recommended."

—K.Y. Perry, CHOICE

"A highly original analysis and major contribution to global and comparative studies of racial formation. Race on the Move not only provides a compelling means of framing how migrants, and specifically Brazilian return migrants, negotiate race transnationally, but more importantly, offers a masterful examination of racial formation across borders."

—G. Reginald Daniel, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Race and Multiraciality in Brazil and the United States

"Race on the Move takes a bold step in comparative studies of race in everyday life. Joseph's nuanced ethnography is more than a comparison of two countries. She creatively shows how the migration of workers and intellectuals between Brazil and the United States reshapes both their personal racial experiences and the broader racial context of Brazil."

—David Scott FitzGerald, University of California, San Diego and author of Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas

"Joseph gives us a masterful, carefully executed, finely parsed, and absolutely first-rate sociological analysis of the intersection of transnationalism and race. Her work drives home the profoundly social and cultural determination of race in any given national context, both highlighting the tenacious power of perceived racial difference and shattering the idea that complex color gradations, group mixture, and hybridity inevitably undermine the significance of race: they don't."

—Lawrence D. Bobo, W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University

"This study sheds light on how Brazilian immigrants and returnees understand racial dynamics through transnationalism....Joseph correctly points out, the transnational optic has changed racial categories, discrimination, stratification, and has evaluated social positions within and without the Brazilian migration process."

—Alan P. Marcus, Luso-Brazilian Review