Nobrezas do Novo Mundo (The nobility of the New World) represents a welcome addition to the growing literature on the social dynamics of colonial Latin America, particularly Brazil. By combining discussions of race and nobility, Ronald Raminelli brings his audience beyond narratives of Brazilian colonial society dichotomized into black and white, master and slave. He unveils race as a multivalent concept in colonial Brazil—one that did not preclude the entrance of blacks and Indians into the lower nobility. Raminelli recognizes, however, the perils that accompanied African, Indian, Jewish, and Islamic lineages in the Luso-Atlantic, and he deftly navigates the paradoxes inherent in bestowing privileges of nobility on blacks and Indians.

Raminelli divides Nobrezas into two parts, with the first part mapping out the structures of nobility in South America and the second part analyzing black and Indian nobility. He delineates four major...

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