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The Long, Lingering Shadow

Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere

Robert J. Cottrol

Publication Year: 2013

Students of American history know of the law’s critical role in systematizing a racial hierarchy in the United States. Showing that this history is best appreciated in a comparative perspective, The Long, Lingering Shadow looks at the parallel legal histories of race relations in the United States, Brazil, and Spanish America. Robert J. Cottrol takes the reader on a journey from the origins of New World slavery in colonial Latin America to current debates and litigation over affirmative action in Brazil and the United States, as well as contemporary struggles against racial discrimination and Afro-Latin invisibility in the Spanish-speaking nations of the hemisphere.

Ranging across such topics as slavery, emancipation, scientific racism, immigration policies, racial classifications, and legal processes, Cottrol unravels a complex odyssey. By the eve of the Civil War, the U.S. slave system was rooted in a legal and cultural foundation of racial exclusion unmatched in the Western Hemisphere. That system’s legacy was later echoed in Jim Crow, the practice of legally mandated segregation. Jim Crow in turn caused leading Latin Americans to regard their nations as models of racial equality because their laws did not mandate racial discrimination— a belief that masked very real patterns of racism throughout the Americas. And yet, Cottrol says, if the United States has had a history of more-rigid racial exclusion, since the Second World War it has also had a more thorough civil rights revolution, with significant legal victories over racial discrimination. Cottrol explores this remarkable transformation and shows how it is now inspiring civil rights activists throughout the Americas.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Studies in the Legal History of the South

Praise, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-11


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

I have accumulated many debts in the writing of this book. My prior training and writing had been in the legal and social history of the United States. I owe a big debt to a number of friends and colleagues who are students of Latin American history, law, and society and who took the time to read some of the chapters dealing with Latin America and to offer...

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pp. 1-22

This book is an effort to broaden our current conversation on law and race. In the United States, the discussion on law and race has, in my view, tended to focus too narrowly on the American experience. This is perhaps understandable. The law in the United States has played a clear, undeniable role both in the construction of the American system of racial inequality...

Part I: Our Bondage and Our Freedom

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1. Casta y Color, Movilidad y Ambigüedad: Slavery and Race in the Spanish Empire

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pp. 25-52

Between the Columbian voyages of the late fifteenth century and 1867, when the last slave ship from Africa landed in Cuba, nearly 1.3 million people were forcibly transported from West Africa to Spain’s American empire. This migration was part of the Atlantic slave trade, the largest forced transfer of human beings in world history. The viceroyalties and...

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2. Terra de Nosso Senhor: The Paradox of Race and Slavery in Brazil

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pp. 53-79

You may not recognize the title, but you are probably familiar with the melody to Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil.” Hollywood — Disney, to be a bit more precise — changed the title to “Brazil” and gave the song a few of those June/moon/soon lyrics so beloved by songwriters and jukebox aficionados a few generations ago. But Barroso’s original words had...

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3. Race, Democracy, and Inequality: Origins of the American Dilemma

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pp. 80-110

No event better illustrates the difference between the Brazilian Empire and the young American republic than the Dred Scott case. Applauded and reviled at the time it was handed down, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s opinion has vexed generations of students of the Supreme Court and the American Constitution. Most modern commentators agree...

Part II: A White Man’s Country

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4. Blanqueamiento: Building White Nations in Spanish America

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pp. 113-142

Señora María Magdalena Lamadrid, “Pocha” to her friends, is a fifth-generation Argentine. On August 22, 2002, at 10:00 in the morning, she went to Ezeiza Airport, Buenos Aires’s principal airport for international travel. She was planning to attend a conference in Panama honoring Martin Luther King Jr. When she presented her documents to airport...

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5. No País do Futuro: Brazil’s Journey from National Whitening to “Racial Democracy”

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pp. 143-172

Long before Princess Isabel took a golden pen and signed the law that ended Brazilian slavery, even before the Viscount of Rio Branco sponsored the law of the free womb, the dream of a white Brazil settled by industrious and intelligent Europeans and freed from the problematic presence of large Afro-American and Indian populations was a strong one. José Bonifácio, a...

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6. Jim Crow: The House the Law Built

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pp. 173-204

Latin American statesmen such as Brazil’s Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca and Argentina’s Domingo Faustino Sarmiento spent much of the latter part of the nineteenth century pondering how to turn their nations into European societies. They hoped to do so in part through laws that promoted European immigration and legal measures that suppressed African...

Part III: From Emancipation to Equality

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7. An American Sea Change: The Law’s Power and Limitations

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pp. 207-237

No event better illustrates the determination of Americans in the first decade of the twenty-first century to turn their backs on the twentieth-century legacy of Jim Crow than the election of Barack Hussein Obama as president on November 4, 2008. Many Americans, including many who indicated that they had not voted for him, expressed satisfaction at the...

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8. Um País para Todos?: The Brazilian Journey from Racial Democracy to Racial Reform

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pp. 238-265

That sea change that did so much to transform the world of race and caste in the United States was in part a product of a long-standing American discomfort with the idea of inequality. The United States was the land without class distinctions, the nation of equals, the home of Jeffersonian democracy, the republic ruled by the common man. Much...

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9. New Awakenings in Spanish America

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pp. 266-291

For many civil rights activists in the Spanish-speaking nations of the Americas, that 2008 agreement between Brazil and the United States was welcome news. Since the 1980s, Afro-Latin community activists had become increasingly vocal in their efforts to combat entrenched patterns of racial exclusion. Their efforts were being aided by growing international...

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pp. 292-300

The question of how best to address enduring legacies of racial exclusion is not confined to the Spanish-speaking nations of the hemisphere. It is the problem of race in the Americas in the twenty-first century. The answer is by no means clear, and even our preceding discussion of race and law in the history of the Americas provides us with no...


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pp. 301-318

Glossary of Spanish and Portuguese Terms

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pp. 319-326


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pp. 327-362


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pp. 363-370

E-ISBN-13: 9780820344768
E-ISBN-10: 0820344761
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820344058

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Studies in the Legal History of the South