Brazilian Black Librarianship

The Fight Against the Epistemicide of Black Thought in the Library Profession




In Brazil, only recently has Brazilian Black Librarianship (Biblioteconomia Negra Brasileira in Portuguese; BNB) experienced renewed interest as an intellectual, professional and bibliographic movement that ranges from professional training and performance to theoretical and epistemological reflections on the critical reflections produced by Black librarians, as well as research on ethnic and racial issues, socioeconomic conditions, and the Black population within Library and Information Science (Biblioteconomia e Ciência da Informação in Portuguese; BCI). This article presents the BNB movement through its history, praxis, and curricular transformation of the library profession in the context of the epistemologies produced by Black librarians in Brazil. The justification for this study lies in debating how LIS as a field promotes and reproduces whiteness and the death of knowledge of Black librarians (and librarians belonging to non-white ethnic and racial groups), resulting in the exclusion of this knowledge in libraries, praxis, and librarian education training. In other words, whiteness in Brazilian librarianship is instituted as an exercise in epistemicide, nullifying or hiding other epistemologies. For the socio-critical construction of the framework of this research, we analyzed of books, articles, theses, dissertations, annals of scientific events in the field, and manuals published in the period from 1987 to 2020. Such information sources were drawn from databases, websites of scientific events, class councils and professional associations, graduate programs in information science, and the Brazilian platform for researchers' curricula, Currículo Lattes. In this theoretical framework, we sought to uncover the way that Brazilian LIS education promotes Eurocentric (white) thinking and renders racial debate and Black intellectuals invisible, drawing from the philosophies of Grada Kilomba, Sueli Carneiro and Boaventura de Sousa Santos. Anchored in these theoretical references from different areas of knowledge, we debate the fight against the epistemicide of Black thought within the scope of scientific production in Brazilian librarianship. Finally, we bring the profile of Black Brazilian librarians and their performance with ethnic-racial issues, and the scientific production of Black librarians at BNB that gave rise to the movement to introduce Black epistemologies in LIS. The conclusion points to critical perspectives that bring the discussion on race to the center of the field and the formation of a Brazilian tradition of theories and methods through the struggles and resistance of the country's Black communities.

Pre-print first published online 7/17/2023

Author Biographies

Franciele Carneiro Garcês-da-Silva, State University of Santa Catarina

Professor at the Graduate Program in Information Management, State University of Santa Catarina (PPGInfo/UDESC). Ph.D. in Information Science from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Master's degree in Information Science from the Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IBICT-UFRJ). Creator and manager of the project Quilombo Intelectual, Coordinator of the Nyota label and the Ethnic-Racial Relations and Decolonialities Working Group (GT RERAD). Vice-Leader of the Studies and Research Center on Information Resources, Services, and Practices (NERSI) and a member of the Ecce Liber Research Group: Philosophy, language, and Organization of Knowledge as a member of the Satellites in Ordinary Organization of Socially Oppressed Knowledge (O²S².sat).

Gustavo Silva Saldanha, Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia (IBICT)

Senior Researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Information in Science and Technology (IBICT). Associate Professor at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), and a Level 2 research fellow of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Since 2011, he has led the Ecce Liber research group: philosophy, language, and Organization of Knowledge (IBICT-UNIRIO). He serves as the executive editor of the Liinc journal. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Ibero-American Circle of Documentary Information Science (CIIBERCID); since 2017, of the research team Médiations en information communication spécialisée do Laboratoire dÉtudes et de Recherches Appliquées en Sciences Sociales (Lerass) at the University of Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, France; since 2008, of the Franco-Brazilian Network of Researchers in Mediation and Social Uses of Knowledge and Information (Rede Mussi); and since 2014, of the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE).