Matheus Gato

Matheus Gato


Matheus Gato is a sociologist specializing largely in race relations in Brazil. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of São Paulo in 2015. Gato’s work focuses on processes of racialization that marked the end of Brazilian slavery (1888) in the state of Maranhão, home to the highest concentration of black descendants in Brazil. Through ethnographic and archival research, Gato analyzes the racial configuration of urban space in the nineteenth century, explores the trajectory of black intellectuals of the period, and conducts close readings of novels and short stories that reveal the formation of black citizenship in post-abolition Brazil. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and has participated extensively in the Global Collaborative Network “Race and Citizenship in the Americas,” an internationalization initiative led by Princeton University and the University of São Paulo (USP). 


Project Description

Race Relations in Brazil

This project explores the circumstances that led to the execution of the so-called “freed black monarchists” on November 17, 1889 in the city of São Luís do Maranhão. The conflict, still in need of comprehensive historical analysis, arose out of tension between two groups. In one camp stood the republican group who had just announced the collapse of the Imperial Regime in the pages of the Globo newspaper only a day before. On the other side stood a large group of blacks who threatened to destroy the newspaper’s office and hurt its personnel because, according to historical evidence, they worried that the destruction of the Imperial Regime might jeopardize the liberty that they had received from emancipation on May 13, 1888. This event serves as an analytical tool for addressing concepts and social practices of racialization in post-abolition Brazil. In particular, the project takes as it focus a peripheral region in Brazil to complicate the commonly recognized idea that national political transformations arise from the economic and administrative center rather than at its margins. In this way, it is important to interrogate the reasons why the government changed immediately in the economic and political periphery of Brazil through the work of black group protests. As they exposed the contradictions of the social hierarchies and reorganized its very structures, it propelled the collapse of the slave-master’s world.

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