ethnicity, formed by different historical processes in their countries of origin. Upon their arrival, they ‘learn’ and react to predominant US notionsof race and ethnicity, quickly ﬁguring out where the USA and its natives‘see’ them. At the same time, new immigrants work to maintain theiroriginal identiﬁcations and notions of race and ethnicity – challenging USnotions and the way that US natives ‘see’ and incorporate them along theway. In a dialectical convergence of external and internal identiﬁcations –a meeting of what Cornell and Hartmann (1997: 82) term ‘assertive’, volun-tary, or internal identiﬁcation
from the inside
and ‘assigned’, involuntary, orexternal identiﬁcation
from the outside
– both host country and immigrantnotions of race and ethnicity are asserted, challenged, and reorganized. Theresults of this interactive process tell us much about the ways in which raceand ethnicity factor into immigrant incorporation and affect social hier-archies and inequalities in the USA. Here I use Brazilians in the USA toexplore some of the processes in this ethno-racial modiﬁcation andchallenge, and to lay bare some of the contradictions and complexities inthe US racial/ethnic classiﬁcation system, particularly in regards toHispanic/Latino ‘panethnicity’. Such complexities are very evident in theBrazilian case, but are also present in many others.Brazilians make an interesting case study for several reasons. First, theyhave received relatively little attention in the US immigration literaturethus far.
Second, Brazil has treated race differently throughout its historyfrom the US, and although both systems are changing somewhat to look like the other, they have often been treated as polar opposites (Nobles,2000). The simple distinction is that historically the USA has abided by astrict and polarized white–black binary, while Brazil has developed more of a racial ‘continuum’. That is, in the USA blackness has been deﬁned andsolidiﬁed historically by the one-drop-of-blood rule of hypodescent, so thatanyone with any African ancestry at all is deﬁned as ‘black’, or at least ‘notwhite’, whereas in Brazil blackness has been deﬁned by a different ‘one-drop’ rule, so that anyone with any European ancestry at all is deﬁned as‘potentially white’, or at least ‘not black’. This has made whiteness a muchmore inclusive category in Brazil than in the USA. Although Brazil exhibitsa clear hierarchy of desirability – with whiteness ranking much higher onthe socioeconomic and cultural totem poles than blackness – like manyother Latin American countries, its history of nation-building and racialformation stands in stark contrast to the USA’s polarized vision of white-ness/blackness, history of racial exclusion in nation-building processes, and‘one-drop’ rule in which perceived or imagined African ancestry makes anindividual ‘not white’ (Bailey, 2001; Davis, 1991; Degler, 1986; Harris, 1964;Marx, 1998; Nobles, 2000; Skidmore, 1993; Wacquant, 1997; Wagley, 1965;Winant, 1992).Third, Brazil boasts its own proud and complex history of immigrationand multiculturalism, which means that US-bound immigrants from Brazil