How interracial couples in Brazil and the US navigate racial boundaries
How do people understand and navigate being married to a person of a different race? Based on individual interviews with forty-seven black-white couples in two large, multicultural cities—Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro—Boundaries of Love explores how partners in these relationships ultimately reproduce, negotiate, and challenge the “us” versus “them” mentality of ethno-racial boundaries.
By centering marriage, Chinyere Osuji reveals the family as a primary site for understanding the social construction of race. She challenges the naive but widespread belief that interracial couples and their children provide an antidote to racism in the twenty-first century, instead highlighting the complexities and contradictions of these relationships. Featuring black husbands with white wives as well as black wives with white husbands, Boundaries of Love sheds light on the role of gender in navigating life married to a person of a different color.
Osuji compares black-white couples in Brazil and the United States, the two most populous post–slavery societies in the Western hemisphere. These settings, she argues, reveal the impact of contemporary race mixture on racial hierarchies and racial ideologies, both old and new.
"Despite dramatically distinct histories and ideologies of race and intermarriage, Chinyere Osuji’s in-depth portrayal of the experiences of these couples and their families reveals startling consistencies and differences across the two societies. Boundaries of Love deftly compares how race operates across these two societies and interrogates how national ideologies, race, gender and other social categories together produce particular meanings of race-mixing. This nuanced and pathbreaking study is sure to challenge previous notions of interracial marriage."-Edward Telles,author of Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race and Color in Latin America
"Boundaries of Love is a theoretically sophisticated contribution to the sociological literature on race and interracial intimacy. Osuji provides use with the concept of "romantic careers"—a brilliant way to understand how Blacks and Whites in Brazil and the United States negotiate the meaning of their previous and current emotional and sexual relationships. Osuji's transnational comparative study of interracial couples challenges us to think critically about the ways that these unions leave white supremacy intact in cosmopolitan urban centers of Los Angeles and Rio de Janiero."-France Winddance Twine,author of Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil