Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected president of Brazil, is a militantly nationalist figure who has used social media to convey bigoted statements about Afro-Brazilians, indigenous groups, the LGBTIQ community, and women. However, it was not just white men and the privileged of Brazil's large southern metropolises who voted for Bolsonaro in the recent 2018 elections. This populist demagogue managed to--through the use of fake news, fear of crime and anger over the almost decade-long corruption scandal at the heart of Brazil's federal government--pull support from across the country's political spectrum. Millions of voters from Brazil's historically Black, mestizo and rural communities across the interior of the country and the northeast voted for Bolsonaro with his party claiming 55% of the popular vote to win the presidency. Indeed, in a country with a population of 210 million where only about half the citizenry actually voted, Bolsonaro took the presidency with just 10 million votes--many of which were cast by people that Bolsonaro has gone out of his way to castigate, insult, and marginalize during his political and military career. This paper will attempt to understand how this right-wing populist managed to seduce so many who typically would not have cast a ballot for him and how a better understanding of both race and the tension between the urban and the rural in this giant of South America can offer some explanations.