This course analyzes the emergence and impact of race- and social-class-based affirmative action policies in Brazil, placing the Brazilian situation in the context of contemporary debates about equity and higher education. We meet students, faculty and administrators at universities, activists from the black movement, researchers, and government officials. Cultural experiences complement the academic content: we engage with one of the world's largest and most diverse cities in São Paulo, Afro-Brazilian culture in Salvador da Bahia, and the marvelous but deeply unequal city of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil has the largest--and by most measures, best--higher education system in Latin America, and enrollments have undergone explosive growth over the last 20 years. We examine the distinctively fluid concept of race in Brazil and affirmative action policies based on race and social class to understand Brazilian higher education. Brazil began to implement affirmative action policies in 2003, stoking enormous cultural, legal, and education debates. Since then, the Brazilian economy has expanded and, recently, contracted. Affirmative action policies have been at the center of national debates, and we work to understand those debates in their full complexity.