What are the challenges and opportunities that impact Black Brazilian and Black North American scholars who conduct research in the U.S and Brazil?
In our co-edited volume, Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production: Diaspora and Black Transnational Scholarship in the USA and Brazil, Dr. Gladys Mitchell-Walthour and I have invited contributors of African descent from the United States and Brazil to reflect on their multidimensional experiences in the field as researchers, collaborators, and allies to communities of color. Our contributors promote a distinctly interdisciplinary perspective, as they represent the fields of sociology, political science, anthropology, and the humanities. In the volume, we engage W.E.B. Dubois’ notion of “second-sight,” which suggests that the unique positionality of Black researchers might provide them with advantages in terms of their empirical observations and knowledge production. Ultimately, in the book volume, we expose the complex and contradictory efforts, discourses, and performances that Black researchers must use in route to implementing and developing their community-centered research agenda. Ultimately, we illustrate that “second-sight” is not inevitable but rather it must be worked at and is sometimes not achieved in certain research and cultural contexts.
This edited collection, Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production, marks a timely contribution to the field because since David Hellwig’s edited book “African American Reflections on Brazil’s Racial Paradise” (1992) another book on black intellectuals’ experiences in Brazil has not been published. Our expressed goal with this volume is to shift the gaze away from the heavily sexualized narratives about Brazil and towards an exploration of how Black researchers negotiate the intersectionality of their race, gender, and national identities in ways that impact their research and, hence, shape knowledge production. For some contributors, their chapters are explicitly didactic and they provide insight into strategies that can be used to successfully cultivate coalition building in global contexts. Still other chapters focus on the significant challenges that Black researchers face as they work towards gaining credibility and approachability in societies that devalue them based on their presumed racial, gender, and/or national identity. Taken together, the chapters will offer a multi-layered perspective of how researchers’ experiences and positionality can be simultaneously an advantage and a liability.
One of the most innovative elements of this edited volume is that it is among the few edited volumes that will represent both the perspectives of Black Brazilian and Black North American scholars in Brazil and the United States. This is intentional, as we developed this edited volume to foster a truly bi-directional and transnational dialogue.