The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 8, No 1 (2020)

Book review. Oliveira-Monte, Emanuelle K. F. (2018). Barack Obama is Brazilian: (Re)Signifying Race Relations in Contemporary Brazil. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Matoula Papadimitriou, Vaso Psilaki


Barack Obama is Brazilian by Emanuelle Oliveira-Monte suggests an interesting and original attempt to highlight the interconnections between political humour, race and gender, a stimulating area of study in humour research. The book explores the ways Brazilian media portrayed the former US president with a specific focus on political cartoons and internet memes. The election of an African-American president to the office of the most powerful country of the world had a tremendous impact on the collective unconscious of the African Diaspora worldwide and especially in Brazil; it also led some analysts to postulate that the US was entering a new post-racial era. President Barack Obama emerged as an open sign, as a symbol of hope and change not only in the US but also globally. This provocative monograph, an interdisciplinary study on comparative race relations, analyses Obama’s shifting portrayals and investigates how the election of the first black US president complicates Brazilians’ own racial discourses. The main question, around which the whole book is articulated, has to do with the meaning of Obama’s victory to Brazil, a country in which almost 54% of the population is of African origin. Did Obama’s victory eventually confirm or challenge Brazil’s racial relations imaginary?



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