Rulers of the Luso-Brazilian world from the sixteenth century used various terms to categorize individuals. In sixteenth-century Portugal, the Catholic Church accused persons of Jewish background, Moors, and New Christians (Jews who had converted to Christianity) of having impure blood. In this manner, elites maintained social hierarchies and marginalized these groups. Portuguese explorers, slave traders, and settlers carried these biases with them as the empire expanded. They claimed that Africans whom they enslaved possessed impure blood. As the slaveholding colony of Brazil increased in population in the seventeenth century, the words mulato and mestizo became common. These terms suggested persons of mixed race and also connoted inferiority due to impure blood. Colonizers of Brazil used these terms to discriminate and demean. Author Larissa Viana writes, “In the colonial environment, the binary term mulatto-impure inserted itself into the laws and daily life as a way to impede possible pretensions [by persons...

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