The Unique Commonalities of Identity & Social Action in Salvador, Bahia

Home Institution

Wheaton College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


Considered to be at the bottom of the social ladder, the Afro- Brazilian women of Salvador, Bahia have collectively began a movement defending their rightful place in Brazilian society. Women of African descent are acknowledging and communicating about the discrimination and organizing access for self-definition and representation. This research focuses on the women who participate actively in the black women movement, specifically those in connection to Odara: Instituto Mulher Negra. On a global scale, societies propagate this idea that a person’s physical appearance defines their overall identity. Unfortunately, historical mindsets and attitudes behind categorizing people on their physical appearance linger in the 21st century. Understanding historical reasons of identity development centered on dominating social constructs such as race and gender helps comprehend the hardships of a woman is or appears to be of African descent living in modern day Salvador, Bahia. Through an ethnographic perspective and the use of intimate discourse with individual Afro-Brazilian women, this research will show how education acts as the necessary tool that permits them to commence in constructing their respective identities. This research utilizes the voices of the Afro-Brazilian women to recognize their various life experiences. By choosing to be apart of an organization like Odara means Afro-Brazilian women in Salvador have come to the consensus that there is a community that represents who they are as individuals. With the proper education these women have established the black women’s movement as the place for self-definition for women of African descent living in Salvador, Bahia and all over Brazil.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Women's Studies

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