Luisa Farah Schwartzman

Luisa Schwartzman

Associate Professor Sociology
Office Location:
3359 Mississauga Road
Mississauga , ON
L5L 1C6

Professor Luisa Farah Schwartzman’s work investigates how classification and meaning-making around race and ethnicity are implicated in the reproduction of inequality, and in efforts by researchers and contemporary government institutions to track and address the inequalities that have arisen from earlier, and ongoing, exclusionary use of such categories. While much of her work is focused on Brazil, she and her collaborators have also studied other national contexts as well.

One line of her research is about how ideas about race and ethnicity operate in the context of efforts by governments and other institutions to track racial and ethnic inequality and to promote diversity and multiculturalist policies. Some of her prior research examined how race-based affirmative action in universities worked in Brazil, which is a context where the boundaries between “black” and “white” are relatively fuzzy and porous, and where class identities are often more salient than racial ones. In a co-authored paper, she has examined how the statistical category of “people of migration background” got used and re-interpreted in German parliamentary debates so as to acquire ethnic and class connotations.

A second line of research is an effort to incorporate the idea of race as a socially constructed and relational concept into quantitative research about racial inequality. Traditional studies of racial inequality simply add race as an independent variable in regression models. Challenging this approach, Schwartzman’s work has used race as a dependent variable, investigating how social stratification impacts racial classification. In a more recent work, she has used multiple measures of race (racial self-identification, interviewer-assigned skin tone and racial composition of the neighborhood) to investigate how individual and spacial forms of racialization affect violent victimization in Brazil. 

A third line of research is about the relationship between race, ethnicity and the construction of nation-states (as political and imagined communities) in the Americas. She has recently published work on how European immigrants become Brazilians, in a context where national identity is framed as mixed-race and backward. In another project, she compares Canadian newspaper discourse on multiculturalism with Brazilian newspaper discourse on racial democracy after World War II. Finally, she is currently starting a new book project on the history of colonialism, slavery and race in the Americas that pays attention to the changing relationship between different political communities, built by Europeans, African, Indigenous and their descendants in the Americas, and how they changed over time.


Schwartzman, Luisa Farah. “Color violence, deadly geographies, and the meanings of 'race' in Brazil." Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2019.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah. "The Integration of the White into the Community of Color, or How the Europeans Became Brazilian in the Twentieth Century." TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 8.2, 2018.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah and Angela Randolpho Paiva. "Not Just Racial Quotas: Affirmative Action in Brazilian Higher Education 10 Years Later." British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 37, No. 4, 548-566, 2016.

Kesler, Christel and Luisa Farah Schwartzman, "From Multi-Racial Subjects to Multi-Cultural Citizens: Social Stratification and Ethnoracial Classification among Children of Immigrants in the United Kingdom." International Migration Review, Volume 49, Issue 3, pages 790–836, 2015.

Elrick, Jennifer and Luisa Farah Schwartzman. "From Statistical Category to Social Category: Organized Politics and Official Categorizations of ‘Persons with a Migration Background’ in Germany." Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 38, n. 9, pp.1539-1556, 2015.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah and Graziella Moraes D. Silva "Unexpected Narratives from Multicultural Policies: Translations of Affirmative Action in Brazil." Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Vol.7 No.1, pp. 31-48, 2012.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Seeing Like Citizens: Unofficial Understandings of Official Racial Categories in a Brazilian University.” Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 41, part 2, May 2009.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Who are the Blacks? The Question of Racial Classification in Brazilian Affirmative Action Policies in Higher Education.” Cahiers de la Recherche sur l'Éducation et les Savoirs, No. 7, October 2008.

Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Does Money Whiten? Intergenerational Changes in Racial Classification in Brazil.”  American Sociological Review, Vol 72, pp. 940-963, December 2007.


Race & Ethnicity
Current Courses: 
SOC327H5, SOC421H5
Ph.D. (Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
MA (Latin American Studies, Stanford University)
BA (Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)