Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth L. Goldstein


The research presented in “Creating Identity” investigates Black identity formation within the Steve Biko Cultural Institute (Biko) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, a pre-vestibular – or college entrance exam preparation course – for Afro-Brazilian high school and aspiring college students. The curriculum, Cidadania e Consciência Negra (Black Consciousness and Citizenship; abbreviated CCN) serves as a vital pillar to the institutional approach to Black identity. In a Eurocentric society like Brazil and a world where Black identity is largely discriminated against including in educational spaces, Biko represents a movement to combat the exclusion of Afro-descendant youth from university, improve self-esteem and perceptions of the value of Black identity, and change who graduates from Bahia state universities.

Over the course of nine months, in 2015 and 2016, field data were collected in the city of Salvador, Brazil and at the Biko institute. Since the research was cross-linguistic, cross-cultural, and hosted internationally, I assumed a methodologically narrative approach. The research design incorporated a survey, interviews, observations, and document analysis. Forty-two students completed surveys, twenty-six Biko students, staff and alumni participated in interviews, and well over 400 hours of participatory field observation were completed. Policy, demographic and curricular documents were also analyzed.

CCN heavily influenced participants’ identity development through student and teacher discourse. The institution is a center of critical activism in the community. Aside from being a major part of the instructional approach to preparation for the college entrance exam, CCN heavily influenced the relationships between participants and their families and friends over newly affirmed Black identities. Although Biko students and alumni became more socially alert to the racial issues in their communities, they remain at risk of being racially profiled. Additionally, understanding blackness through the eyes of participants required an understanding of class and gender structures in Brazil. One major implication of the research for the participants is: blackness is CCN is Biko. Thereby, knowledge production and interaction with universities by Biko students are heavily influenced by Biko tenets and ideologies discussing race and racism, prejudice, discrimination, women’s rights, and economic development.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)