African descendants comprise nearly one-third of Latin America’s population, but suffer economic, social, and political exclusion. In my research, I examine how political and social institutions reinforce Latin America’s entrenched racial stratification. My work challenges conventional wisdom about the importance of race in Latin America and contributes both theoretically and empirically to the study of identity politics.

My research is on racial identity, political behavior, and representation in Latin America. I focus principally on Brazil, which has the largest African descendant population of any country in the world, outside of Africa. Brazil’s predominately white political elite historically promoted the myth that Brazil is a “racial democracy”—that is, Brazil is an inclusive, racially tolerant society. In reality, Afro-Brazilians suffer racial discrimination and are politically marginalized. Despite comprising a majority of the Brazilian population, only 20 percent of the elected members of Brazil’s Congress are Afro-Brazilian.

Book Project: Race and Representation in Brazil

In my current book project, I answer two central questions. First, why do Afro-Brazilians not attain representation in Brazil’s Congress commensurate with their numerical strength? And second, how do racial disparities in electoral outcomes affect the representation of Afro-Brazilians’ policy interests? This project draws on a year and a half of fieldwork in Brazil, econometric analyses of electoral and legislative data, and experimental methods. I received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays Program to support data collection and analysis.

I show that political parties, resource disparities, and voter prejudice undermine the electoral prospects of Afro-Brazilian candidates. Drawing on interviews with politicians and party officials, as well as data from Brazil’s 2014 congressional elections, I find that parties recruit Afro-Brazilians to run for office but do not provide them the financial resources necessary to win. Parties provide white candidates significantly more financial resources than their Afro-Brazilian counterparts, even after controlling for candidate quality. My research also indicates that voter prejudice, not just discrimination by political elites, also hinders Afro-Brazilian candidates from attaining elected office. Observational election data and survey results suggest Brazilian voters discriminate against Afro-Brazilian candidates. I published my findings in a peer-reviewed article in Politics, Groups, and Identities and am currently conducting a nationally representative voting experiment in Brazil to elucidate the conditions under which racial voting is most pronounced.

I demonstrate that racial disparities in electoral outcomes perpetuate racial inequality in Brazilian society. My analysis of legislation sponsored in Brazil’s Congress between 1995 and 2015, as well as the formal interviews I conducted with elected legislators, reveals that Afro-Brazilians’ policy preferences receive limited representation. I find that less than 1 percent of the more than 40,000 legislative bills sponsored between 1995 and 2015 are designed to improve the economic, social, and political status of Afro-Brazilians. My empirical analysis of bill sponsorship behavior indicates some legislators though are stronger advocates for Afro-Brazilians than others. Afro-Brazilian legislators are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to introduce legislation that improves the status of Brazil’s majority Afro-Brazilian population. Afro-Brazilian legislators introduce bills to valorize blackness and to address racial inequality in education, employment, and healthcare. Nevertheless, Afro-Brazilian legislators’ ability to transform their proposed race-conscious legislation into law is hindered by their limited congressional numbers. In this way, the descriptive underrepresentation of Afro-Brazilians perpetuates racial inequality in Brazilian society.

Publications

Andrew Janusz and Cameron Sells. “Race and Campaign Resources: Candidate Identification Numbers in Brazil.” Forthcoming, Journal of Politics in Latin America.

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Andrew Janusz. “Race and Resources in Brazilian Mayoral Elections.” Forthcoming, Political Research Quarterly.

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*Recipient of the 2021 National Conference of Black Political Scientists’ Rodney Higgins Best Faculty Paper Award 

Andrew Janusz, Sofi-Nicole Barreiro, Erika Cintron. “Political Parties and Campaign Resource Allocation: Gender Gaps in Brazilian Elections.” Forthcoming, Party Politics.

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Andrew Janusz and Luiz Augusto Campos. “Candidate Advertisements and Afro-Brazilian Political Marginalization.” Forthcoming in Latin American Research Review. 

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Andrew Janusz. 2021. “Electoral Incentives and Elite Racial Identification: Why Brazilian Politicians Change Their Race.” Electoral Studies 72, 102340.

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Saul Cunow, Scott Desposato, Andrew Janusz, and Cameron Sells. 2021. “Less is More:
The Paradox of Choice in Voting Behavior.” Electoral Studies 69, 102230.

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Andrew Janusz. 2018. “Candidate Race and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence From Brazil.” Politics, Groups, and Identities 6.4: 702-724.

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