E P I LO G U E : T H E E N D U R I N G
B R A Z I L I A N FA S C I N AT I O N W I T H R A C E
In 500 years of history, Brazil has built in the tropics a country of immensely rich
culture, colored by a completely special light in its celebrations, its food, and its music.
Brazil is among the ten largest economies of the world, and its people—despite all the
di≈culties of income and education—learn fast and show an uncommon capacity to
adapt to new things or to face disaster. That is a positive inheritance stressed by many
contemporary thinkers. . . .
Grandpa came to make it in America and he lassoed grandma to satisfy his carnal
appetites. So, from an anthropological standpoint, the Brazilian su√ers from a bastard
syndrome that is reflected in his self-image and in the culture he produces.—‘‘Who Are
We?’’ Veja, 20 December 2000∞
Eugenics lost scientific legitimacy in the aftermath of the Second World War,
but the institutions, practices, and assumptions it gave rise to—indeed, its
spirit—lives on. The idea of a ‘‘Brazilian race’’ endures in many areas of public
life. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994–2002) repeatedly declared
that he himself ‘‘has a foot in the kitchen,’’ meaning he is in part descended
from the ‘‘black help.’’ In soccer, fans define their bond with their team
through allusions to a ‘‘Red-Stripe Race’’ (Flamengo) or a ‘‘Super-Race’’
(Gremio Mineiro). The idea of a ‘‘Brazilian race’’ surfaced in more robust
form in December 2000 as a cover story by José Edward for Brazil’s glossy
news weekly, Veja. In the story it was revealed that ‘‘researchers from Minas
Gerais [have outlined] the first genetic profile of the Brazilian, and conclude
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