Blacks vs. Whites: Self-Denomination, Soccer, and Race Representations In Brazil is the focus of a talk by Emanuelle Oliveira-Monte, Vanderbilt University, on Monday, April 9 at 11 a.m in Ortega 335.

Implementing affirmative action policies in Brazil helped bring to light the discussion of race representations in Brazilian society. At the core of the racial quota system lies the concept of auto-denominação, or self-denomination: the individual is the one who chooses her/his racial status. In such a fluid racial schema, self-determining color reveals to be a challenge.

In this paper, Oliveira-Monte analyzes the documentary Preto Contra Branco (dir. Wagner Morales, 2004) that follows an interesting tradition in the suburbs of São Paulo: a soccer championship between the neighborhood of São João Clímaco and the Heliópolis slum, in which blacks and whites compete against each other. Since most inhabitants of these communities are mulattos, the concept of auto-denominação is fundamental to form the teams. But racial flexibility complicates the players' choices and the fans' affiliation to their favorite squad. Oliveira-Monte considers some of the questions that Preto Contra Branco seeks to problematize. How does one represent himself/herself? Can this representation change over time? What can games of sociability reveal about racial attitudes? As a symbol of national unity, does soccer actually transcend race in Brazil? Does this local soccer championship overcome or confirm racism? Can the communities critically reflect upon their racial and social discourses through their relationship with soccer? What can a soccer game reveal about racial attitudes in Brazil?

Oliveira-Monte is an associate professor of Luso-Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian Literature. Her research interests include Afro-Brazilian literature, race relations, race in comparative perspective, the Afro-Diasporic experience, the relationship between politics and literature, literature of human rights, as well as Brazilian Cinema and Popular Culture. Her manuscript, Writing Identity: The Politics of Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Literature (Purdue UP, 2007), examines the intricate connections between literary production and political action by focusing on the politics of the Brazilian black movement and the literature of a São Paulo-based group of Afro-Brazilian writers, the Quilombhoje. She is currently working on a second book manuscript The Color of Crime: Representations of Race and Delinquency In Contemporary Brazilian Literature and Cinema. This study investigates how the diverse representations of Afro-Brazilians in contemporary literature and cinema inform the dichotomy race and violence in Brazilian society. She has also published several articles in professional journals and anthologies and translated Carolina Maria de Jesus' Diário de Bitita (M.E. Sharpe, 1998).

Oliveira-Monte serves the profession through committees in several professional associations, including the Brazilian Studies Association (2004-2008), the Brazilian section of the Latin American Studies Association, and the Luso-Brazilian section of the Modern Language Association (2010-present). She is also a member of the editorial board of the Afro-Hispanic Review, Chasqui, and Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World. In 2011, she was guest-editor, with Isis Costa McElroy, of a special issue of the Afro-Hispanic Review on the Afro-Brazilian Diaspora.  

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: