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How African body markings were used to construct the idea of race in colonial Brazil

By Aldair Rodrigues, Adjunct assistant professor, Universidade Estadual de Campinas
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In the 1700s, the gold rush in southeast Brazil created a high demand for mining labour. The Minas Gerais region became one of the main destinations for African slaves. For the first half of the century, demand was met by a trade circuit connecting the ports of the Bight of Benin to Salvador in Bahia.

People from those ports acquired a reputation among the Portuguese as the best hands for mining gold.

With time, they created a commercial system of slave classification.…

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