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The Ripple Effect: Gender and Race in Brazilian Culture and Literature

Maria José Somerlate Barbosa

In The Ripple Effect: Gender and Race in Brazilian Culture and Literature, Barbosa adopts a comparative, multilayered, and interdisciplinary line of research to examine social values and cultural mores from the first decades of the twentieth century to the present. By analyzing the historical, cultural, religious, and interactive space of Brazil’s national identity, The Ripple Effect surveys expressive cultures and literary manifestations. It uses the martial art-dance-ritual capoeira as a lynchpin to disclose historical ambiguities and the negotiation of cultural and literary boundaries within the context of the ideological construct of a mestizo nation. The book also examines laws governing gender in Brazil and discusses honor killings and other types of violence against women. The Ripple Effect appraises the contributions that some iconic female figures have made to the development of Brazil’s distinctive cultural and literary production. Drawing on more than fifteen years of field, archival, and scholarly research, this work offers new interpretative venues, and broadens the critical focus and the methodological scope of previous scholarship. It reveals how literature and other arts can be used to document cultural norms, catalog life experiences, and analyze complex constructions of social values, ideas, and belief systems.


"The Ripple Effect delicately blends aspects of anthropology, sociology, political science, cultural adoption and adaptation. This is no typical academic text—the narrative commendably reveals the author’s words and opinions following considerable contemplation, retrospection, and thought, demonstrating the author’s disciplined scholarly research complemented by what entails considerably productive time spent in Brazil. This book enigmatically manifests women’s changing place in society and ethnic blending’s evolutionary alterations in a most complex sense."

—Floyd Merrell, Purdue University

Maria José Somerlate Barbosa is Professor Emerita in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa. She specializes in Brazilian literary and cultural studies. Her scholarly production is interdisciplinary and her book-length publications include Clarice Lispector: Spinning the Webs of Passion (translated to Portuguese and published in Brazil as Clarice Lispector: Desfiando as Teias da Paixão) which addresses gender as related to identity formation, age, class, race, and the body politic. Her book, Recitação da Passagem: A Obra Poética de Edimilson de Almeída Pereira (“The Middle Passage: The Poetic Works of Edimilson de Almeída Pereira) focuses on themes related to the experiences of the African diaspora. She is also the contributing editor of Passo e Compasso: Nos Ritmos do Envelhecer (“In the Rhythms of Growing Old”), a collection of critical essays on cultural and literary representations of age/aging in the Portuguese-speaking countries. Barbosa served as vice president and president of the American Portuguese Studies Association, on the executive committee of the Brazilian Studies Association, and as a member of the Modern Language Association’s Luso-Brazilian subdivision.



PSRL 88. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available. 


Page last updated on 9 January 2024.

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