Honors College Theses

Publication Date



International Studies (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. William Biebuyck


Public education systems institutionalize the socialization process which directly disseminates cultural and national values and assimilates the population through mass education. But how does colonial-era anti-Black racism persist in the higher education institutions of contemporary postcolonial societies? Using the Federative Republic of Brazil as a case study, I examine the effects of incomplete decolonization, anti-Blackness, and the role of history, economics, and pedagogy on social outcomes that exclude and marginalize Black and other minority groups. The Brazilian higher education system follows a pattern centered around anti-Black racism which serves to disempower Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations during the colonial and postcolonial eras. This qualitative study examines three key components that form the higher education system in Brazil: the legacy of historical institutions like slavery, exclusive economic practices, and pedagogical barriers that affect the accessibility and experiences of University students. A survey of undergraduate Brazilian students at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB) examines the effectiveness of affirmative action and racial quota policies in a contemporary postcolonial context, as well as knowledge of and experience with these policies. This study observes how historical, economic, and pedagogical factors contribute to the pattern of persistent colonial structures that enable and perpetuate anti-Black racism in Brazil’s institutions of higher education.

Thesis Summary

This study examines how persistent colonial structures enable and perpetuate anti-Black racism in postcolonial Brazil’s institutions of higher education.