Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
Do not touch! Social avoidance of black children's bodies and the paradoxes of emancipation (Brazil, first decades of the 20th century)
Cynthia Greive Veiga

Última modificación: 2017-07-16


The objective of this study is to discuss situations of avoidance of contact with the bodies of black children in school and children's magazine during the organization of the Brazilian Republic and the expansion of schooling and industrialization. The discrimination of the black population in Brazil took distinct forms under slavery in the Colonial Period (16th-19th centuries), in the Empire (19th century) and after the abolishment of slavery (1888) and the instauration of the Republic (1889), when emancipation and legal equality were introduced as a new legal-political statute, thus contributing to the appearance of other discrimination and exclusion strategies. The long historical duration of slavery and the inferiorization of the black population, besides hygienist and eugenics studies, resulted in a conflictive implementation of the freedom-equality condition. While during the slavery period, the contact with a black person's body occurred through oppressive body relations (forced work, whipping, rape) and the separation of physical spaces, the later period brought along other problems. The process of emancipation of slaves associated with the organization of the republican nation gave place to the problem of how to handle the ethnic differences under juridical equality, considering that, the early 20th century, Brazilian population was characterized by intense miscegenation between black and poor white populations. With the growth of urban life, situations of physical proximity of bodies became inevitable and frequent, either in the streets, factories, public transport and schools, however, simultaneously to a rejection of the black body. As reported by a teacher, about his memories of the school that he attended in 1910 "(...) the parents did not approve of relationships with classmates who were workers' and farmhands' children (...)” and, regarding black people, "Nobody liked to stay close to the few who attended school" (Revista do Ensino, Year IX, No. 198, p. 23). What did it mean to avoid touching a black body in the republican context? This fact has a dialectic dimension, since as society emancipates from oppressive processes, it simultaneously affords freedom and visibility to the differences, and also produces strangeness and rejections; the tensions arising from the emancipation processes required a refinement of strategies of control of the differences. The work of sociologists Norbert Elias and Cas Wouters contributes to the discussion of these issues. Elias presents a theoretical model based on the figuration of "established and outsiders", which also allows questioning the processes of social avoidance and production of stigma as a strategy to maintain the other an inferior person/group, while Wouters develops the notion of informalization and demonstrates the transformations of emotions and body behavior since the late 19th century. The investigation is conducted through a conceptual dialog of documental sources, such as correspondences and government reports, Revista do Ensino de Minas Gerais, and Tico-Tico children's magazine (focusing in on Lamparina, a black girl character).