Race on the Move is a book on first generation Brazilian return migrants and their “transnational racial optic.”
Joseph addresses the question of how migrants rely on racial ideals from the sending country (Brazil) to negotiate race as undocumented immigrants in the receiving country (United States) and, how they use ideals from the United States to re-adapt to race in Brazil.
To explore this question, the author conducted interviews with white and black return migrants in Brazil’s highest immigrant-sending region, Governador Valadares (GV).
In the United States, Brazilian migrants are undocumented, racialized as Hispanic/Latino and lumped with such ethnics, and reside in low-income, racially segregated neighborhoods. They experience first hand what they call a US obsession with the racial categories “white,” “black,” and “Latino.” Upon return migrating, however, most white informants adopted their pre-migrant classification, and most black and brown migrants did the same.
As they return from the United States to Brazil more identify as white (high status) or black (politicization) and much fewer as Latino/brown. In broad structural terms, Joseph finds that while black return migrants always knew that a “racial democracy” did not exist in Brazil, whites crystallize this view post-migration after seeing more high-status black Americans.
For a full review, visit Nadia Y. Kim, International Migration Review.