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International Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity: An Annotated Bibliography
by Heewon Chang and Timothy Dodd of Eastern College

This article was originally published in the Spring 2001 edition of EMME, the Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education.


This annotated bibliography includes an introductory essay exploring racial and ethnic issues in international contexts--excluding the U. S.--and an annotated bibliography of 20 books and 13 journal articles pertaining to the topic. The resources are organized by continent and type of the literature.

Introductory Essay

Issues of race and ethnicity dominate the academic discourse of many disciplines, including the field of multicultural education, and the socio-political arena. Heightened interest in these issues is in response to the demographic reality of increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States and other nations.

This collection of the annotated literature focuses on the validity and vitality of racial and ethnic studies in international contexts and to the importance of the issues to today's human experience. This introductory essay explores the concepts of race and ethnicity, construction of racial and ethnic differences, and the connection between socially-constructed differences and conflicts in socio-political contexts. The essay will be followed by a limited annotated bibliography of 20 books and 13 journal articles organized by geographic division and type of the literature (book or article).

Most of the literature included in this essay is concerned with issues of race and ethnicity emerging within the last two centuries. Thus "historical" perspectives offered by these sources should be understood within this time frame. Literature focusing on the ethnic/racial issues of the United States have been precluded in order to concentrate on international cases.

Definitions of Race and Ethnicity

The use of the terms "race" and "ethnicity" is varied. The two terms are misused as if they are identical.  The casual and common appearance of the terms side by side in the public discourse may discourage people from regarding them as distinct terms. Serious students of race and ethnicity differentiate between them and study their usage in classifying and categorizing people.

The term "race" is based on the premise of biological and physical differences. According to Robb (1995), "the concept of 'race' included any [essentializing] of groups of people which held them to display inherent, heritable, persistent or predictive characteristics, and which thus had a biological or quasi-biological basis" (p.1). In the study of race, particularly during the 19th and early 20th century, people  were classified on the basis of different phenotypes determined by physical attributes such as skin color, cranial size and shape, and hair type.

Classification of humans into distinct racial groups claims to draw on scientific facts. This endeavor is a facade lacking  genuine scientific validity for at least two reasons. First, racial classification assumes that pure phenotypes exist. This premise is difficult to prove, even if one accepts the conjecture that pure phenotypes had existed in the early stage of human existence. Biological intermixing between people of apparently different phenotypes complicates today's "scientific" attempt to sort people out purely by phenotypic traits. Second, any claim that racial differences are based on biological differences ignores the fact that people with identical physical attributes are often classified differently and hold different social positions in societies. Brazil's complicated racial categories based on skin shade (Stam 1998) do not coincide with the black-white-colored paradigm sustained in South African apartheid racial discourse (Deng, 1997). Koreans and Japanese who can be easily classified into the same racial category are considered two different "races" by Japanese due to their notion of differing "blood" affinities (Dikks¯ter, 1997; Min, 1992). Even within Brazil, the socio-economic status of an individual frequently affects his/her racial category. This is reflected in the popular ideology, "Money whitens," whereby a darker-skinned person may become "white" based on economic status (Hanchard, 1994; Reichmann, 1999; Twine, 1998). Both of these problems are apparent in Mexican society where scholars have noted that it is often impossible to distinguish between Indians and Mestizos phenotypically. Instead, individuals of both groups are more commonly categorized according to social and cultural traits.

Furthermore, the work of Nutini (1997) demonstrates that it is common for Indians to "become" Mestizo by mere acquisition of social and cultural traits regardless of phenotypic characteristics. Despite the impossibility of scientifically constructing racial classifications based on phenotypic attributes, claims of racial classifications based on pseudo-science and ideology have been used to promote notions of racial differences and superiority, justifying domination of certain "racial" groups over others. This is done despite the fact that genetic differences among groups with different phenotypic attributes are in fact minor and do not account for much difference in human behavior (Unander, 2000).

Distinguished from the concept of "race," "ethnicity" is a culturally-derived term. Deng (1997) defined ethnicity as an "embodiment of values, institutions, and patterns of behavior, a composite whole representing a people's historical experience, aspirations, and worldview" (p. 28). Ethnic classification, either externally imposed and intrinsically engendered, often defines people's membership to a group. Aside from social constructs, ethnicity is innately more central to human experience and identity than race. In turn, ethnic distinctiveness is more likely to invoke an innate sense of peoplehood. Ethnic uniqueness thus provides an immediate identity marker both within a group and between groups. As is the case with racial categorization, ethnic categories are often perceived or discussed as though they are fixed and unchanging entities. However, because ethnicity incorporates language, religion, demarcations of territory, and other cultural traits, changes in people's affinity with any of them can occur over time. Thus ethnic categorization should be viewed as somewhat subjective and dependent upon human perception and identity. In the milieu of fluidity ethnic consciousness and "way of life" may be created and reinforced to maintain the status quo at certain times and be transformed to embrace other social constructs at other times. Provided that choice, process, and change are all central to ethnic identity, consciousness, and categorization, ethnicity must not be viewed as entirely objective, permanent, or static (Haug, 1998).

Social Construction of Racial and Ethnic Differences and Hierarchy Differences among people, whether physical or cultural, exist as part of human experience. The recognition of differences may be intensified as contacts between different groups grow. Some of the differences may be absorbed into the innate fabric of a society. Socially constructed meanings are often added to perceived or actual differences whereby these differences become signifiers for people's worth in a society. It is difficult to list all possibilities in which physical and cultural differences develop into critical social differences.

In many cases some groups gain privileges over others on the basis of their racial or ethnic differences, perceived or actual. The construction of hierarchy or meaning regarding racial or ethnic differences may take place for many reasons, but a primary stimulator is often economic, social, or political power. Competition for resources or the drive for greater privilege often underlies the social construction of racial or ethnic hierarchies. These hierarchical classifications are then utilized to establish, develop, or maintain dominance or hegemony of a group over others.

Those on the lower end of opportunity, noting their losses to racial or ethnic classifications, may develop a heightened awareness of group identity in order to challenge the social constructions of privilege. This phenomenon of "ethnogenesis" (Hanchard 1994; Harell, 1995) has proliferated in the contrast of dominance and subjugation based on the ethnic/racial differences throughout the world.

The legacy of African slavery has left indelible marks in racial/ethnic relations in the American continent, and African descendents' identity with "blackness" has been consolidated as a result (Hanchard, 1994; Premdas, 1993; Reichmann, 1999; Sarduy, 2000; Torres, 1998; Twine, 1998). Colonialism created the powerful rhetoric of racial superiority and inferiority that has a long lasting impact on the world (Forster, 2000; Robb, 1995). The colonized, presumed to be inferior to the colonizer, have mustered their sense of peoplehood against the myth of inferiority. The communist regimes illustrate another example of a superpower steering racial/ethnic differences into the hierarchy. In the former Soviet Union, the central government sought to impose a Russian ethnic identity, including language and political beliefs, upon all Soviet citizens regardless of their ethnic identities. Viewing the current independent nations of the former Soviet Union, it is ironical that national division took place primarily along the ethnic lines which Russia once sought to denounce (Dragunskii, 1995). A similar effort has been attempted by the Chinese central government that imposes a national identity on different ethnic groups (Dikks¯ter,1997; Harell,1995). Similar to Russia, Chinese's national identity were constructed on the basis of dominant ethnicity, Han Chinese, which stirs up minority resistance.

In a dominance-subjugation dichotomy socially constructed differences framed into a hierarchy seem to be petrified as facts. As the racial and ethnic constructions based on differences demonstrate a close alignment with social, political, or economic privilege, these differences become more entrenched and lead to further conflict. Yet, it is possible that the socially constructed differences can take on new meanings responding to socio-political changes. The Rwanda's case illustrates clearly the fluidity of ethnic categories, in which post-colonial ethnic classifications greatly changed due to new socio-political contexts after the independence and hardened categorizations imposed by colonializers (Bowen, 1997; Newbury, 1998; Uvin 1999). Many have argued that Hutu-Tutsi ethnic differentiation in recent decades has more to do with social construction and political manipulation than any innate differences. Many international cases attest to the tenacity of racial and ethnic categories, and they have exercise enormous power as bases for discrimination and dominance.

Social Constructions and Conflict

As social constructions of racial and ethnic hierarchy are often generated to establish or perpetuate privilege for certain groups, a surge of group identity may lead to conflict. According to many popular perceptions, ethnic hierarchies and conflict are inevitable when contact occurs between different races or ethnicities. Ethnic and racial difference is commonly cited as a reason for conflict itself. In many cases, conflict along ethnic or racial lines is construed as age-old and eternal, without hope for relations to improve.  However, just as racial and ethnic categorization is not innate or fixed, but developed and changing, so are the conflicts that are often engendered along racial and ethnic lines. Racial and ethnic conflicts are also dependent on the social construction of hierarchies and self-identification, thus adaptive to changing contexts, perspectives, and negotiation. Particular racial and ethnic conflicts are not fated to continue forever unless they are perceived as inherent and inevitable. This notion places the emphasis of racial and ethnic conflict on contexts, ideologies, marginalizing actions, group perceptions of race and ethnicity, and failed negotiations rather than a faulty belief in the inevitable incompatibility of groups from differing races or ethnicities.

Racial and ethnic pluralism does not in all cases lead to conflict. Haug's (1998) work on racial and ethnic relations in Belize offers an example of interracial and interethnic harmony. Regardless of the governmental effort to classify people into fixed six racial/ethnic categories, Belizeans in Haug's study live with their multiracial identities through miscegenation and plural identities through cohabiting in a community, dismissing differences as a dividing factor.

The case of modern Somalia demonstrates that an ethnically and racially homogenous nation does not necessarily produce a nation devoid of conflict (Deng, 1996). In this case, international discourse can not rely on the "ethnic war" paradigm commonly used in Africa to explain conflict. Instead, the conflict is referred to as "clan warfare," although even this concept fails to account for the complex social and political forces which define the conflict. This case demonstrates the need for a closer examination of the social contexts, ideologies, and perceptions, which underlie the constructions of differences rather than accepting the social constructions themselves as the root of the problem. Ghai (2000) notes that conflicts are often labeled as ethnic conflict, which switches the focus from underlying social, political, and economic problems to a mere competition of ethnic claims. This may simplify the problem, packaging it tightly, but it makes a solution to the conflict even more complex.


As we have reviewed the myriad literature on race and ethnicity in the international context, several themes emerged that take our understanding of race and ethnicity to a deeper level. First, racial differences are more in the mind than in the genes. Thus we conclude superiority and inferiority associated with racial differences are often socially constructed to satisfy the socio-political agenda of the dominant group. Second, racial and ethnic categories are neither fixed across societies nor within a society. Racial and ethnic categories are fluid and changing depending on the socio-political context of a society at any given time. Third, ethnic and racial differences do not inherently lead to conflict. Instead, these differences can take on a social meaning of hierarchy leading to conflict when divided groups fail to negotiate. In such cases, the imbalance of power, not the racial or ethnic differences per se, is the underlying cause of the conflict. In each of these cases, it is critical that the topic of race and ethnicity receives continual examination. The ideology and myth of racial and ethnic differences cannot be validated to support or legitimate superiority, privilege, or conflict as has often been the case in both historical and global contexts. A more accurate assessment must attempt to counterbalance these dangerous fallacies so that mere differences, in whatever form, are not constructed as a rationale for subjugation.

  Annotated Bibliography



Forster, Peter G., Hitchcock, Michael, and Lyimo, Francis F. (2000). Race and ethnicity in East Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Examines race and ethnicity in East Africa from the period of earliest archaeological evidence to the present day. Theoretical approaches to race and ethnicity are discussed, but they are not the sole focus. Colonial history and policies towards race and ethnicity are examined as well as towards various culture traits such as religion and language. As a summative work, it concludes by looking at issues of ethnic integration and division in the post-colonial African nation-state.


Bowen, John R. (1997). Ethnic conflict: Challenging the myth. Current, 389,16-21.

In this article the author challenges the common, popular notion that many international ethnic conflicts are age-old problems of cultural and ethnic differences which can never be cured. Instead, Bowen focuses on examples in Yugoslavia and Rwanda to demonstrate how colonial and post-colonial states create ethnic categorization and division for economic and political purposes.

Deng, Francis M. (1996). Identity in Africa's internal conflicts. American Behavioral Scientist, 40 (1), 46-65.

This articles explores various levels and paradigms of ethnic conflict in modern African states, focusing on ethnic identity, possible scenarios for ethnic conflict, and the manners in which these conflicts are managed or mismanaged. It demonstrates how it is not the actual differences of identities which cause conflict, but rather the differences of interests. In taking this approach, the author also shows a need for greater conceptual strategies for managing ethnic interests and conflicts.

Deng, Francis M. (1997). Ethnicity: An African predicament. Brookings Review, 15 (3), 28-31.

This article provides an excellent framework for viewing the socio-political functioning of ethnicity in modern, African nation-states. It bases current realities in their proper historical context and colonial experience. The colonial development of social and political stratification in an attempt to gain control of economic resources is described, leading to the role African ethnicity would later develop in mirroring this paradigm.

Doornbos, Martin. (1991). Linking the future to the past: Ethnicity and pluralism. Review of African Political Economy, 52, 53-65.

Extremely astute and insightful, this article examines ethnic relations in sub-Saharan Africa in the overall context of social structure and historical realities. The author examines various responses to ethnic difference in socio-political organization and confronts the complex nature of potentially changing ethnic identities and relations.

Newbury, Catherine. (1998). Ethnicity and the politics of history in Rwanda. Africa Today, 45 (1), 7-24.

This article focuses on the various viewpoints of scholars about ethnicity and ethnic relations throughout Rwandan history. This is combined with a study of ethnic conflict and political process. Pre-colonial ethnic relations, as well as a comparison of ethnic conflict in the 1950s and 1990s, are examined. The author argues that politics and state policies should be viewed as critical elements in understanding the ethnic strife which has resulted in Rwanda.

Uvin, Peter. (1999). Ethnicity and power in Burundi and Rwanda: Different paths to mass violence. Comparative Politics, 31 (3), 253-271.

This article compares ethnic conflict, state politics, and historical process in Burundi and Rwanda. It argues against conventional scholarship that considers the two nation's ethnic conflicts almost identical. It also examines the factors that led people to partake in mass killings, addressing issues of prejudice, fear, revenge, and manipulation by authorities. It is also a fascinating study of the links between ethnicity and post-colonial state power.



Dikks¯ter, Frank. (Ed.). (1997). The Construction of racial identity in China and Japan. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

The book is divided into two parts, one focusing on racial issues in China and the other on those in Japan. Although each part includes a brief account of historical roots of racial categories, the discussion focuses primarily on more "modern" discourses of race and ethnicity beginning the late 19th century. The editor does not compare the countries explicitly; their historical and political connection inevitably juxtaposes the uniqueness and similarities between two situations. One similarity that emerges clearly from both countries is social construction of racial boundaries based on the discourse of "blood" affinity. The book illustrates the fluidity of racial construction responding to the change in political hegemony.

Harell, Stevan. (Ed.). (1995). Cultural encounters on China's ethnic frontiers. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

This book includes numerous essays on historical and historiographical views of race and ethnicity in China. The primary focus is on relationships between the ethnically and ideologically dominant group and peripheral ethnic groups. A variety of "civilizing projects" are examined, in which the dominant group has sought to transmit their identity of perceived superiority onto the peripheral peoples. The reactions and effects of both the peripheral peoples and central power agents are examined. Central to the book is how ethnicity, race, and ideology are utilized in hegemonic contexts, as well as the resulting "ethnogenesis" of peripheral groups responding with a heightened sense of ethnic identity. Robb, Peter. (Ed.) (1998). The Concept of race in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Min, Pyong Gap. (1992). A Comparison of the Korean minorities in China and Japan. International Migration Review, 26 (1), 4-21.

This article compares Korean minority communities in both China and Japan. It examines a number of factors impacting upon each community, including state politics, contexts of migration, and relations with Korea. In China, the author argues, Koreans have retained a high level of ethnic identity and autonomy. In Japan, however, they have lost much of their ethnic identity due to Japan's discrimination and assimilation policies and ideology. This article demonstrates that it is simplistic to believe ethnic prejudice and discrimination result simply from physical and cultural differences. They depend on political and social policies, perceptions, and actions.



Grandin, Greg. (2000). The Blood of Guatemala: A History of race and nation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Click here to read the review of this book from the Reviews of Resources section of this issue. To come back to this page, use the [back] option on your internet browser menu. Lai, Walton Look. (1997). The Chinese in the West Indies, 1806-1950: A Documentary history. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

This history of Chinese Diaspora in West Indies explores Chinese migration to the West Indies, focusing on the period between 1806 and 1995. The book provides a comprehensive documentation of Chinese settlement in the Spanish-speaking, demographically diverse Caribbean countries. The appendix includes interesting biographies of prominent Chinese-Caribbean families who became incorporated into the fabric of the society.

Premdas, Ralph. (Ed.) (1993). The enigma of ethnicity: An analysis of race in the Caribbean and world. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

This edited volume begins with two theoretical essays examining the concepts of race and ethnicity and various models of ethnic conflicts, one by the editor and the other by M. G. Smith. The following 7 chapters provide concise, yet informative, accounts of race and ethnic issues in various Caribbean countriesŃSuriname, Haiti, Trinidad, Guyana, French West Indies followed by another 5 chapters focusing on countries in "the rest of the world." Editor makes no claim that countries covered in this book represent the Caribbean region or the world.

Sarduy, Pedro Perez and Stubbs, Jean. (Eds.). (2000). Afro-Cuban voices: On Race and identity in contemporary Cuba. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press.

Torres, Arlene and Whitten, N. E. (Eds.). (1998). Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social dynamics and cultural transformation, Volume I and II. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

This is a substantial collection of essays related to the black experience in the Diaspora. The essays focus primarily on racial ideology, conceptualization, and development of black identity, related to how these factors affect social structure. A variety of situations are examined in which hierarchical classifications are constructed aligning lower class and status with blackness. Despite discrimination and marginalization, blackness and black culture also become central to ethnic identity, resistance, and rebellion. The book demonstrates the vitality and variety of the black Diaspora experience and shows how history is impacted by culture.


Nutini, Hugo G. (1997). Class and ethnicity in Mexico: Somatic and racial considerations. Ethnology, 36 (3), 227-238.

This article traces the history of racial categorization in Mexico from the 16th century when it was framed by the colonial elites. Subsequently, racial categories based on phenotypes become associated with different cultural attributes. Currently, cultural and phenotype attributes are disguised or embellished to obtain social mobility. Overall, the article demonstrates that social stratification is based on racial phenotypes and perceived cultural traits and that there is a large correlation between race and class in Mexico.

Haug, Sarah W. (1998). Ethnicity and ethnically "mixed" identity in Belize: A study of primary school-age children. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 29 (1), 44-67.

The article explores the discrepancy between the notion of ethnicity that the Belizean national curriculum teaches in primary schools and primary school-age children's perceptions of their ethnicity. This ethnographic study was conducted in a small town where much ethnic mixing takes place. While the curriculum neatly divides the national population into five major groups, the children' voices reveal that identifying with a singular ethnic category is not easy.



Dragunskii, Denis V. (1995). Imposed ethnicity. Russian Social Science Review, 36 (2), 71-82.

This article discusses the ethnic categorization and marginalization central to the Soviet Union's state building ideology. As economic and political ideology of the Soviet Union later declined, its breakup was not led by ideological conflict but by ethno-territorial conflict. Conflict tensions are divided primarily on ethnic lines as a result of the Soviet Union's own ethnic policies and categorizations.

Gheorghe, Nicolae. (1991). Roma-Gypsy ethnicity in Eastern Europe. Social Research, 58 (4), 829-844.

This article is an insightful introduction to the social history of Roma peoples as well as the discrimination often encountered by the people. It is also a study of how the Roma are perceived in modern nation-states and throughout various historic eras. Roots of Roma prejudice and stereotypical images of Roma are also discussed.

Velliste, Trivimi. (1995). Ethnic issues in Estonia: A personal view. World Affairs, 157 (3), 137-141.

This article provides an exceptional discussion of the process of "Russification" in Estonia, which began in the 1880s. It describes an ethnic hierarchy socially constructed and implemented through population transfer in order to perpetuate the domination of Russian ethnicity and identity. Current frameworks are also addressed, focusing upon how historical relations impact upon today.



Li, Peter S. (Ed.). (1999). Race and ethnic relations in Canada. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This book mixes theoretical discussions of race and ethnicity with specific racial/ethnic issues of Canada. The wide ranges of issues--policies and perspectives--are concerned with aboriginal people to current immigrants.  Woman's issues are minimally incorporated at the end of the book in a plea for a new approach to the study of race and ethnicity, in which race is examined as an intersection of gender and class. Those who are looking for perspectives and voices of minorities may be disappointed.



Cowlishaw, Gillian. (1999). Rednecks, eggheads, and blackfellas: A Study of racial power and intimacy in Australia. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Spoonley, Paul. (1993). Racism and ethnicity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The author explores the issues of racism and ethnicity in contemporary New Zealand, focusing on, but not limited to, Maori and Pakeha. Maori is a broad category of aborigines and Pakeha refers to New Zealand-born Europeans whose experiences have been formed as a result of the dominant group of the country but who do not have a strong affiliation with a homeland elsewhere. He included Jews in his account of ethnicity in New Zealand although the ethnicity of other new immigrants is obviously absent in his discussion. The author treats the minorities not as passive victims of racism but as active agents of their affairs although they are very much dependent upon the the politics of the mainstream society. The chapter on policy and practice offers insight on how the shift of the state policy toward decentralization affects ethnic equity in the country.



De la Candena, Marisol. (2000). Indigenous mestizos: The Politics of race and culture in Cusco, Peru, 1919-1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Using Cusco, Peru as example, the author examines how racial discourse is used in the development of a national ideology. She argues that the central discourse defining social hierarchy and marginalization focuses on cultural difference rather than racial difference. The author traces the history of this development through the 20th century in Cusco, focusing on a process of "de-Indianization" whereby even indigenous people who gain Westernized education and jobs consider themselves "mestizo" despite their racial realities.

Hanchard, Michael G. (1994). Orpheus and power: The "Movimento Negro" of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

This book examines the depth of racial politics in Brazil and documents Afro-Brazilian activitists' struggles to bring about social justice for black Brazilians, focusing on the time period between 1945 and 1988. The social myth of racial democracy--a belief that there is no injustice imposed upon people on the basis of racial differences--created an obstacle for the activists to raise social consciousness of racial inequality despite the fact that the social reality reveals apparent gaps among different racial groups.

Reichmann, Rebecca (Ed.). (1999). Race in contemporary Brazil: From indifference to inequality. State College, PA: Penn State University Press.

This edited volume disputes the myth of "racial democracy" in Brazil by providing various forms of explicit and implicit inequality permeating the socio-economic structure of the society. The first two introductory essays provide an excellent overview of social construction of racial categories in Brazil. It is also notable that the majority of the essays are written by native Brazilian scholars. Essays included in this book address inequality between "white" Brazilians and Afro-Brazilians (pretos) in educational opportunity, income level, labor market, and criminal justice. Inequality also intensifies when the gender factor is added. Several essays cover gender issues in conjunction with race and class.

Stam, Robert (1997). Tropical multiculturalism: A comparative history of race in Brazilian cinema and culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

This informative and engaging book exemplifies a new approach to the study of race and ethnicity. Offering films as the window to the ethno-racial reality of Brazil, the author examines the evolution of the reality depicted in the Brazilian cinema of different eras. The portrayals and roles of Afro-Brazilians and Indians reflect the change in the socio-political view of the minorities. The author also embraced the gender factor in his discussion. A helpful comparison between the U. S. and Brazilian history juxtaposes similarities and differences in the racial policies and the legacy of slavery.

Twine, France W. (1998). Racism in a racial democracy: The maintenance of white supremacy in Brazil. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Wade, Peter. (1995). Blackness and race mixture: The Dynamics of racial identity in Colombia. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Focusing on black experience in Colombia, particularly the Choco region, this book reveals the rift between the nation's official policy of pluralism and the actual experience and realities for Afro-Colombians. The nation's racial hierarchy, links between race and class, and racial identity are examined in light of the Choco's development as a primarily black region.


Arocha, Jaime. (1998). Inclusion of Afro-Colombians: Unreachable national goal? Latin American Perspectives, 25 (3), 70-89.

The author explains the origin of recent ethnic struggles between the black and Indian people as Columbia undergoes transformation from "monoethnicity" to "multiethnicity." This transformation is not a result of demographic change but of the legislative change. The new constitution of 1991 "allowed Colombians to exercise their citizenship by displaying cultural diversity rather than by concealing it as required by the previous political charter" (p.70). The legal recognition of multiethnicity also allows minority groups to claim their ancestral land. This legal change, complicated by the governmentÕs economic development in the region concentrated by Afro-Colombians and Indians, "aggravates ethnic asymmetries that, in turn, erode nonviolent coexistence" among these people according to the author. This article provides especially helpful information on the history of slave trading of Africans and their resistance to the enslaved situation.



Ghai, Yesh. (Ed.) (2000). Autonomy and ethnicity: Negotiating competing claims in multi-ethnic states. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Unander, D. (2000). Shattering the myth of race: Genetic realities and biblical truth. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press.

Heewon Chang, Ph. D., an educational anthropologist with special interests in multicultural education, ethnography of adolescents, and Asian-American issues, directs the M. Ed. in Multicultural Education program at Eastern College. She founded EMME in 1998 and has been editing the magazine since then. (Contact her at

Timothy Dodd is currently a graduate student in Eastern College's M. Ed. in Multicultural Education program and will student teach for Secondary School Certification in Social Studies in the Fall of 2001. His undergraduate work was completed at Wesleyan University in Comparative Religion and African Studies. He has traveled and worked in Africa and Central America. (Contact him at

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