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Breaking Down Borders: The Transnational Dimensions of Afro-Brazilian Women’s Identities and Activism
Unformatted Document Text:  Breaking Down Borders: The Transnational Dimensions of Afro-Brazilian Women’s Identities and Activism Racial and gender identities have become powerful vehicles for change, often transforming social and political relations at the local, national and global level. For Afro-Brazilian women, the growing connectedness of citizens, organizations and information has facilitated opportunities to redefine identities and to enhance social activism. The Brazilian state and society have served as sites of exclusion in this case, asserting and reproducing racial and gender stigmas that have left most of the Afro-Brazilian population uneducated, unemployed and under the poverty line. Afro-Brazilian women have openly challenged attempts to marginalize their identities and experiences and have sought to celebrate the existence of diversity in a state that has, until recently, defined itself as racially homogenous. Yet, it is important to note that the novel understandings of race, gender, and the nation expressed throughout Afro-Brazilian women’s activism have not developed in isolation. This paper will examine how, in recognizing the inability of the state to challenge long standing barriers and the hesitancy of Brazilian society to fully integrate and accept black women as equal and contributing members, Afro-Brazilian women have drawn on transnational discourses and dialogues to redefine their identities and to counter their marginalization. It will examine the impact of black feminist perspectives, particularly those emerging from the United States, on the identity formation and mobilization strategies of Afro-Brazilian women. Specific consideration will be given to how these approaches have fostered the development of a distinct Afro-Brazilian feminist political identity. Increased transnational alliances between Afro-Brazilian women’s organizations and those situated throughout the African diaspora will also be considered. Emphasis will be placed on the efforts and obstacles to strengthen the rights and voices of African descendent women through the cross- border exchange of ideas and mobilization strategies. Lastly, the heightened participation of Afro-Brazilian women in international policy arenas and forums, including the United Nations Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 will be addressed, analyzing the incorporation and effectiveness of international human rights norms and models in local feminist initiatives and federal legislation.

Authors: Franklin, Jessica.
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Breaking Down Borders: The Transnational Dimensions of Afro-Brazilian Women’s 
Identities and Activism
Racial and gender identities have become powerful vehicles for change, often 
transforming social and political relations at the local, national and global level. For 
Afro-Brazilian women, the growing connectedness of citizens, organizations and 
information has facilitated opportunities to redefine identities and to enhance social 
activism.  The Brazilian state and society have served as sites of exclusion in this case, 
asserting and reproducing racial and gender stigmas that have left most of the Afro-
Brazilian population uneducated, unemployed and under the poverty line. Afro-Brazilian 
women have openly challenged attempts to marginalize their identities and experiences 
and have sought to celebrate the existence of diversity in a state that has, until recently, 
defined itself as racially homogenous. Yet, it is important to note that the novel 
understandings of race, gender, and the nation expressed throughout Afro-Brazilian 
women’s activism have not developed in isolation.
This paper will examine how, in recognizing the inability of the state to challenge 
long standing barriers and the hesitancy of Brazilian society to fully integrate and accept 
black women as equal and contributing members, Afro-Brazilian women have drawn on 
transnational discourses and dialogues to redefine their identities and to counter their 
marginalization. It will examine the impact of black feminist perspectives, particularly 
those emerging from the United States, on the identity formation and mobilization 
strategies of Afro-Brazilian women. Specific consideration will be given to how these 
approaches have fostered the development of a distinct Afro-Brazilian feminist political 
identity. Increased transnational alliances between Afro-Brazilian women’s organizations 
and those situated throughout the African diaspora will also be considered. Emphasis will 
be placed on the efforts and obstacles to strengthen the rights and voices of African 
descendent women through the cross- border exchange of ideas and mobilization 
strategies. Lastly, the heightened participation of Afro-Brazilian women in international 
policy arenas and forums, including the United Nations Conference on Racism held in 
Durban, South Africa in 2001 will be addressed, analyzing the incorporation and 
effectiveness of international human rights norms and models in local feminist initiatives 
and federal legislation. 
 


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