Title page for ETD etd-08222008-183728

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Rocha, Elaine Pereira
Email rochaep@yahoo.com
URN etd-08222008-183728
Document Title Racism in novels : a comparative study of Brazilian and South African cultural history
Degree MHCS
Department Historical and Heritage Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof A S Mlambo Co-Supervisor
Prof L Kriel Supervisor
  • dictatorship
  • miscegenation
  • class division
  • racism
  • comparative history
  • Brazilian history
  • cultural history
  • South African history
  • literature
  • apartheid
Date 2008-04-17
Availability restricted

This dissertation focuses on comparing racism in South Africa and Brazil by analyzing eight novels written between 1909 and 1953 that discuss racism. The aim is to examine the phenomenon in these two societies and the way it was reflected in the novels of two white authors – Alan Paton and Jorge Amado – and two black authors: Afonso Henrique Lima Barreto and Peter Henry Abrahams. Methodologically, this study is concerned with the use of literature as a source for social and cultural history. The selected novels are used as primary sources, supported by historiography and other secondary sources.

Paton’s novels Cry, the beloved country and Too late, the Phalarope use the theme of racial segregation in South Africa and its consequences of social, economic and political exclusion as a basis for their stories, while the selected novels of Amado – Seara Vermelha and Jubiabá – explore social, political and economic segregation in Brazil during the authoritarian reign of Getúlio Vargas. On the other hand, the works of Lima Barreto, Recordações do Escrivão Isaías Caminha and Clara dos Anjos,approach racism via the Brazilian mentality and examine how this contributes to social and economic exclusion. Peter Abrahams denounces social and economic exclusion based on racial discrimination in South Africa. His novels achieved considerable success inside and outside Africa, all of them addressing this problem, although this study selected only two: Mine Boy and The Path of Thunder.

The period chosen for this investigation – 1900-1953 – witnessed the advance of capitalism, which for underdeveloped countries and colonies meant the exploitation of minerals, railways and port constructions; urbanization; industrialization; and all their social consequences. The rise of Nazi regimes in the thirties, with distinct racial ideas and social policies revived old theories about racial differences. After the World War II, the fight for democracy influenced the debate on racial discrimination and segregation worldwide, bringing a new wave of scientific explanations and a political and social demand for ending colonization on the African continent and racial segregation in the United States.

As the features of South African politics and policies of exclusion emerged with new colours for the world – given the testimonies, and new analyses publicized in the past fifteen years – Brazil was been pushed to face the problem of racial and social exclusion, unmasking its image as a “racial paradise”. At this point, comparative analysis of racial issues through their cultural history would help to understand differences and similarities between the two societies, which are still fighting racism and its consequences.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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