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Racial Categorizing In 20th Century Brazil

954 words - 4 pages

During the twentieth century Brazil saw immigration from many countries including Italians, Germans, Japanese, among others. These groups were brought over for differing reasons including labor and populating. One major group to come to Brazil was the Japanese who came in the early part of the century to farm. Another group to try and immigrate to Brazil were Middle Eastern Catholic Assyrians who were seeking refuge. Both of these groups saw changes in Brazil’s racial categorization and acceptance.
The Middle Eastern Catholic Assyrians sought refuge from the new Muslim regime in Iraq in the 1930s. Through the British colonization company Paraná Plantations, the group of 20,000 asked Brazil ...view middle of the document...

Factors such as race and religion factored into the categorization of the Assyrians in Brazil in the 1930s. Originally they were thought to be categorized as good for immigration, by Britain and League of Nations, on account of them being Catholic Christians like the majority of Brazil. They were then categorized by race due to the strong nationalism that Vargas was promoting.
The Japanese are another immigration group in Brazil that were seen differently throughout the years. The Japanese were brought in in the early part of the century as rural workers. Japanese were welcomed into the country on account that they were though of as the “whites” of Asia. Jeffery Lesser writes in Searching for Home Abroad “Class status was accompanied by an ethnic reclassification of immigrants who arrived in ‘European clothing’” (Lesser 6). Upon arriving they were seen more as European than Japanese because of their clothes and seen as a higher class than the poor farmers of Brazil. Their clothing and the way in which the Japanese presented themselves became a factor in how they were classified by Brazil when they first immigrated. In the mid 1930s things became tenser and Japanese immigration became a debate. There were people who opposed Japanese for nationalist and racist reasons, fearing they would take their jobs and pollute their race (Lesser 8). The writing of a new constitution brought these about. Vargas in promoting Nationalism in Brazil made it illegal to speak anything but Portuguese in public making things difficult for Japanese as well as other immigrant groups. World War II became an even harder tome for Japanese in Brazil. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Brazil joined the Allies. This created an anti-Japanese attitude in Brazil. Vargas, during this time, forced Japanese to move from what were seen as strategic areas such as near the sea to the interior of...

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