Some resources on racism in Spain and Portugal

In line with recent events linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, this blog post features ebooks and other titles dealing with racism and social prejudice in Spain, Portugal and Portuguese-speaking Africa available to Cambridge students and researchers.

Spain, which has traditionally been a melting pot of cultures, is currently facing a new reality. Immigration has brought a new variety of cultures and beliefs that has triggered attitudes of racism, intolerance and xenophobia. Romani gitanos, people of colour, Latin Americans and Muslims are some of the groups that have suffered discrimination in Spanish society in recent times.

Various policies of successive governments have sought to promote inclusive education, cultural and religious integration and social cohesion, but overall progress has been slow. Discrimination against migrants and vulnerable groups is still occurring at various levels including housing, education, health, access to services and the media.

Below is a selection of ebooks in Spanish and English from our collections:

Specifically dealing with migrant issues:

Dealing with discrimination against minority groups:

Also available in print only:


Benin plaque of Portuguese warrior, 16th/17th century (Wikimedia Commons)

Unsurprisingly, given Portugal’s long colonial history, race and racism play a huge part in Portuguese history and society. Portugal in fact initiated both the first wave of European colonisation in the early 15th century and the Atlantic slave trade a century or so later. The involvement of Portugal is therefore fundamental to almost every aspect of colonial and racial history. This is particularly true in relation to Brazil, the most important territory in the Portuguese Empire (and the focus of the country’s slave trade) until the early 19th century. This post includes some titles dealing with race and racism in Brazil.


Map of PALOP countries (Wikimedia Commons)

By the 20th century, Portuguese colonial activity was focussed on territories in Africa. These countries, making up what is now known as PALOP, have arguably had the greatest impact on race and racism in modern Portugal. In the 1950s, when post-war decolonisation movements were gaining momentum around the world, António de Oliveira Salazar’s Estado Novo government adopted the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre’s theory of Luso-tropicalism, which held that the Portuguese were better and more humane colonisers than other European countries, in order to justify maintaining Portugal’s “pluricontinental nation”. Of course, Luso-tropicalism was not the reality for most of those who experienced  Portuguese colonialism. Racism was always fundamental to Portugal’s colonial project and here are some titles held by the UL dealing with this.



Obviously the story does not end with the independence of PALOP countries in the mid-1970s. Many people from these countries emigrated to Portugal in the years that followed independence, and they and their descendants still face a great deal of racial discrimination and social inequity. Unfortunately the UL only holds one (English-language) ebook dealing with these issues (Managing African Portugal : the citizen-migrant distinction / Kesha Fikes, 2009), but here are some related Portuguese-language titles available in print:

Sonia Morcillo and Chris Greenberg

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