Professor Schwartzman is interested in the area of race and ethnicity, in particular how people in different contexts think about and deal with the question of racial and ethnic classification. Her earlier work, coming from her dissertation (defended before she started at the University of Toronto in May 2009), was concerned with the issue of racial classification in affirmative action policies in Brazil, in particular the disjuncture between how students understood the racial categories that they were being asked to select themselves into to qualify for the policy and how social scientists and policy makers understood these categories. Results from this research have been published in academic journals such as the American Sociological Review and the Journal of Latin American Studies.
Since 2009 she has continued this line of work and has taken it into different directions. First, she has continued doing work on affirmative action in Brazil. She has written two co-authored papers on this issue. One has been published recently and examined how ideas about affirmative action changed as these policies became implemented in Brazilian higher education, based on interviews with university administrators and students. Another is under journal review, and uses administrative data from Brazilian public universities to examine the kinds of affirmative action policies that have been implemented at different institutions.
A second line of research has looked at racial and ethnic statistics as applied to the descendants of immigrants in Europe. One co-authored paper, also under journal review, looks at how children of immigrants to the UK classify themselves racially and ethnically in the census, and the extent to which parental birthplace, socioeconomic status and other variables predict this classification. Another paper in preparation, co-authored with a graduate student, looks at how a new statistical category, "person with a migration background," gets ethnicized in parliamentary debates.
A third line of research looks at the relationship between race, ethnicity and national mythologies in different contexts. She is currently working on a paper looking at how European immigrants that came to Brazil in the beginning of the 20th century are understood in relation to the construction of Brazil as a "mixed" nation. Another paper in progress compares multiculturalism in Canada and racial democracy in Brazil, as well as how ideas about multiculturalism get interpreted in the Brazilian context.
Schwartzman, Luisa Farah and Graziella Moraes Dias da Silva,“Unexpected narratives from Multicultural Policies: Translations of Affirmative Action in Brazil.” Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Vol.7, No.1, 2012.
Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Seeing Like Citizens: Unofficial Understandings of Official Racial Categories in a Brazilian University.” Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 41, part 2, May 2009
Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Who are the Blacks? The Question of Racial Classification in Brazilian Affirmative Action Policies in Higher Education.” Cahiers de la Recherche sur l'Éducation et les Savoirs, No. 7, October 2008.
Schwartzman, Luisa Farah, “Does Money Whiten? Intergenerational Changes in Racial Classification in Brazil.” American Sociological Review, Vol. 72, pp. 940-963, December 2007.