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Luso-Brazilian, term that is used to describe a person or to refer to the mixture of Brazilian and Portuguese culture. Luso refers to Portugal and more specifically to Lusitania, the name of Portugal during the Roman Empire. Luso-Brazilian culture evolved from the mixture of Portuguese, African, and coastal Amerindian influences. Portuguese colonists imposed some Western-oriented cultural traditions on the indigenous society, such as the Roman Catholic Church, but the farther away they were from coastal towns, the more likely were colonists and their descendants to adopt Tupi Indian language and customs. Importation of African slaves, which began in the sixteenth century, introduced a new cultural element. Brazil retained many features of Portuguese life, but was distinct from Portugal because of the preponderance of people of color. The society that evolved in Brazil was marked by racial and ethnic diversity, but also by a social hierarchy based on plantations, slavery, and polygamous patriarchal paternalism. Another reflection of the mix of cultures is in language. During colonial times, many words from the Tupi languages came into use alongside Portuguese. Africans, from diverse linguistic groups, added to the vocabulary. Portuguese spoken in Brazil, therefore, includes African as well as Tupi terms.

See alsoRace and Ethnicity .


Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves (1946).

Joaquim Mattoso Câmara, Jr., The Portuguese Language (1972).

Bailey W. Diffie and George D. Winius, Foundations of the Portuguese Empire, 1415–1850 (1978).

Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835 (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Fausto, Boris. A Concise History of Brazil. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Quinlan, Susan Canty, and Fernando Arenas, eds. Lusosex: Gender and Sexuality in the Portuguese-Speaking World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Ribeiro, Darcy. The Brazilian People: The Formation and Meaning of Brazil. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

Sweet, James. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

                                          Ross Wilkinson

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