In 1935 Margarida Gloria da Faria, a teacher at Rio de Janeiro's Escola Gen-
eral Trompowsky, discovered that one of her students was a "descendant
of Arabs." As a faculty member at an institution known for its modern ap-
proaches, Faria decided to use the child's presence as a "point of departure"
for a study of "the man ofthe desert." In addition, the teacher decided to
make three other groups part of that year's social studies curriculum: Bra-
zilian Indians, Japanese, and Chinese.! Why did Margarida Gloria da Faria
link these groups? Was it to integrate them into Brazilian society or to
guarantee their rejection? Perhaps even she was unsure.
Non-European immigrants have been generally ignored in the histo-
riography, surprising lacunae, given the millions of people involved. Yet
research on Middle Easterners and Asians often takes place out of the main-
stream of archives, and in these unseen but omnipresent Brazilian worlds
terms like "foreigner" and "Brazilian" may be synonyms. For many Brazil-
ians multiple identities were common long before airplanes made inter-
national travel a matter of hours rather than weeks or months. This book
examines how non-European immigrants and their descendants negoti-
ated their public identities as Brazilians.