On November 7, anthropologist and historian Lilia Moritz Schwarcz offered a talk entitled, “Lima Barreto: A sad visionary in Brazil at the beginning of the XX century” as part of the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies Lunchtime Colloquia. Professor Schwarcz is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sao Paulo and a Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. Her talk gave listeners a taste of the content of her recent publication Lima Barreto: Triste Visionário, published in 2017 by Companhia das Letras (Sao Paulo).
Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto (1881-1922) was an Afro-Brazilian writer whose prescient critiques of Brazil’s structural racism and supposed “racial democracy” still have resonance today. His writings attempt to break apart the social Darwinism and racial determinism reigning in Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century. As Professor Schwarcz explained, the Portuguese word triste has two connotations, and Lima Barreto was both: he was sad, yes, but also persistent and stubborn.