Cassia Roth (University of Georgia) talks about female sexuality and racial mixing in Brazil in the decades following the abolition of slavery in 1888.


Free admission.

He Being White and the Child Black: Race, Sex, and Gossip in Post-Abolition Brazil

Lecture / Free admission


In early twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro, gossip about and denunciations of fertility control, here defined as abortion and infanticide, represented the circulation and subsequent consolidation of ideas on proper female sexuality, gender, and race. In the decades following the abolition of slavery in 1888, Cariocas (or residents of Rio de Janeiro) of all races and classes associated abortion and infanticide with clandestine and thus “immoral” sex, and gossip solidified those moral boundaries in the public sphere. But moral behavior went beyond a woman’s supposed sexual promiscuity. Poor and working-class Cariocas defined proper behavior not only as sex strictly within marriage but also with members of the same race. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, city residents condemned both overt forms of female sexuality and racial mixing.

Cassia Roth is Assistant Professor of History & Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Georgia. She was a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since 2014, she has been a contributing writer and, since 2017, editor with the medical and gender history blog Nursing Clio. She is author of the book A Miscarriage of Justice: Women’s Reproductive Lives and the Law in Early Twentieth-Century Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2020).

Organizers: BrasilienKontext, LMU, Stiftung Bayerisches Amerikahaus

Contact: Dr. Markus Faltermeier

(Photo: Cassia Roth ©Cassia Roth)



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