Casa-Grande & Senzala

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Published in 1933, Casa-Grande e Senzala (English: The Masters and the Slaves) is a book by Gilberto Freyre, about the formation of Brazilian society. The casa-grande ("big house") refers to the slave owner's residence on a sugarcane plantation, where whole towns were owned and managed by one man. The senzala ("slave quarters") refers to the dwellings of the black working class, where they originally worked as slaves, and later as servants.[1][2][3][4]

The book deals with race/class separation and miscegenation and is generally considered a classic of modern cultural anthropology. In Freyre's opinion, the hierarchy imposed by those in the Casa-Grande was an expression of a patriarchal society. In this book the author refutes the idea that Brazilians were an "inferior race" because of race-mixing. He points to the positive elements that permeated Brazilian culture because of miscegenation (especially among the Portuguese, Indians, and Africans). Portugal, like Brazil, is described as being culturally and racially influenced by "an energetic infusion of Moorish and Negro blood, the effects of which persist to this day in the Portuguese people and the Portuguese character".[5][6]


  1. ^ Barickman, B. J. "Revisiting the Casa-grande: Plantation and Cane-Farming Households in Early Nineteenth-Century Bahia". Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  2. ^ "The Masters and the Slaves [Casa-Grande & Senzala]: A Study ..." Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  3. ^ Veracini, Lorenzo. "A. Isfahani-Hammond: White Negritude". Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  4. ^ Lehmann, David. "GILBERTO FREYRE". Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  5. ^ Juan E. De Castro, Mestizo Nations: Culture, Race, and Conformity in Latin American Literature, University of Arizona Press, 2002, p.68
  6. ^ Gilberto Freyre, Casa-grande E Senzala, 1933, p. 211