VIDEO/FILM: Viramundo (with Gilberto Gil)


via official website:

After decades of sold out shows and international recognition, musician Gilberto Gil embarks on a new kind of world tour through the southern hemisphere. From Bahia, he travels to the land of the Aborigines of Australia and the townships of South Africa, ending in the Brazilian Amazon region. With the same passion, Gil continues the work he began as Brazil’s first black Minister of Culture – promoting the power of cultural diversity in a globalized world and sharing his vision for our future: a diverse, interconnected planet filled with hope, exchange… and of course music!

Viramundo was released in France on May 8, 2013.

The website provides information on the film, clips, and links to the soundtrack.Gil discusses the film with French music site QoBuz below (French):

See also: Olivier Barlet | Africultures – Critique | Viramundo, de Pierre-Yves Borgeaud

Congratulations to James H. Sweet, Winner of the 2012 Douglass Prize

James H. Sweet (University of Wisconsin)
James H. Sweet (University of Wisconsin)

From the Gilder Lerhman Center:

James Sweet, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for his book, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press). The Douglass Prize was jointly created by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is awarded annually by Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Sweet at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City in February 2013.

In addition to Sweet, the other finalists for the prize were Robin Blackburn for The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (Verso Books); R. Blakeslee Gilpin for John Brown Still Lives!: America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change (University of North Carolina Press); and Carla L. Peterson for Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City (Yale University Press)….

Read the rest here.

(Belated!) congratulations to Sweet and to all of the finalists.

Domingos Alvares

CFP: The South Atlantic, Past and Present

Call for Papers:  The South Atlantic, Past and Present

Guest Editor: Luiz Felipe de Alencastro (Université Paris Sorbonne)

This volume will focus on the historical, geopolitical and cultural aspects of the South Atlantic, past and present.

From 1550 to 1850 most of Brazil and Angola formed a system sustained by the slave trade and intercolonial traffic that complemented exchanges between these regions and Portugal. This system also included Buenos Aires, the Amazon maritime captaincies, the Senegambia and the Gulf of Guinea and, in the first half of the 19th Century, Mozambique. After the independence of the Lusophone nations in Africa, direct relationships were reestablished between the two sides of the ocean. New extensions appeared with the creation in 2003 of the India, Brazil and South Africa Forum. Underlining the new geopolitics of the South Atlantic, the United States re-established in 2008 the Fourth Fleet in the region (originally established in 1942 and disbanded in 1950).

The deadline for submission is 1 October 2012.

Themes include:

– The South Atlantic and the concepts of World-economy (Braudel) and World-system (Wallerstein)
– South Atlantic Geohistory and Historiography
– Languages and cultural exchanges in the South Atlantic
– Literary dimensions of the South Atlantic
– Lusofonia, religion and missionaries in past and present South Atlantic
– The teaching of South Atlantic history
– Forced and free migrations in the South Atlantic
– The South Atlantic, Hispanic America and the Caribbean
– The United States and the South Atlantic
– Mercosur and the South Atlantic

Please send submissions to the Guest Editor: Luiz Felipe de Alencastro:
Luiz Felipe de Alencastro
Centre d’Etudes du Brésil et de l’Atlantique Sud
Occident Moderne
Université de Paris Sorbonne
1,rue Victor Cousin
Paris 75005
phone 0140462685

BOOK: Soares on Slavery, Catholicism, and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century Rio

Mariza de Carvalho Soares, People of Faith: Slavery and African Catholics in Eighteenth-Century Rio De Janeiro. Translated by Jerry D. Metz. Duke University Press Books, 2011.
Description (Duke University Press):

“In People of Faith, Mariza de Carvalho Soares reconstructs the everyday lives of Mina slaves transported in the eighteenth century to Rio de Janeiro from the western coast of Africa, particularly from modern-day Benin. She describes a Catholic lay brotherhood formed by the enslaved Mina congregants of a Rio church, and she situates the brotherhood in a panoramic setting encompassing the historical development of the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa and the ethnic composition of Mina slaves in eighteenth-century Rio. Although Africans from the Mina Coast constituted no more than ten percent of the slave population of Rio, they were a strong presence in urban life at the time. Soares analyzes the role that Catholicism, and particularly lay brotherhoods, played in Africans’ construction of identities under slavery in colonial Brazil. As in the rest of the Portuguese empire, black lay brotherhoods in Rio engaged in expressions of imperial pomp through elaborate festivals, processions, and funerals; the election of kings and queens; and the organization of royal courts. Drawing mainly on ecclesiastical documents, Soares reveals the value of church records for historical research.”

Soares was awarded the 2012 Roberto Reis BRASA Book Prize for People of Faith.  For more information on the prize click here.

CONF: Panels on Memory and Heritage of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic at BRASA 2012

Panels on Memory and Heritage of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic Region

Conference of the Brazilian Studies Association (September 6-8, 2012, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

PANEL 1: 9:00-10:45, September 7, 2012 (Friday)

Continue reading “CONF: Panels on Memory and Heritage of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic at BRASA 2012”

2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 14th Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize have been announced.

From the announcement:

Robin Blackburn for The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (Verso Books)

In The American Crucible, Robin Blackburn has provided one of the most commanding and wide-ranging examinations of Atlantic abolitionism in years.  In an era of specialization, Blackburn thinks big, connecting emancipation moments through both time and space. Blackburn’s work compels scholars to think anew about abolitionism’s relevance to global modernity.

R. Blakeslee Gilpin for John Brown Still Lives: America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change (University of North Carolina Press)

Finding new scholarly perspectives on John Brown is no easy task but R. Blakeslee Gilpin’s engaging and ramifying book does just that by examining the myriad ways that Americans have used Brown’s memory since the Civil War era. John Brown Still Lives! offers a profound meditation on the long-running debate over slavery, freedom and the struggle for racial justice in American hearts and minds.

Carla L. Peterson for Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in
Nineteenth-Century New York City (Yale University Press)

Carla Peterson’s Black Gotham brilliantly reconstructs her own family’s elusive past as a window unto free black life in 19th century New York. Part detective tale, part cultural history, Peterson’s book recaptures hidden stories of black abolitionism, economic uplift, Civil War heroism, and turn-of-the-century civil rights movements. By painstakingly reconstructing a segment of black New York, Peterson highlights a vibrant cast of characters who constantly redefined the meaning of both American and African American freedom.

James H. Sweet for Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual
History of the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press)

James Sweet’s thoughtful and moving book about African healer Domingos Alvares provides much more than a biographical portrait of a remarkable 18th century man. Rather, Sweet’s imaginative reconstruction of Alvares’ life in and out of bondage places African worldviews at the center of Atlantic history. Domingos Alvares also makes a compelling case for redefining the intellectual history of Atlantic society from Africans’ perspectives.

Continue reading “2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Finalists Announced”

ARTICLE: Bethencourt on Creolization and Kongo Agency

“Dutch Ambassadors Greeting the King of Kongo, late 17th cent.,” [Image Reference FER3] as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

Francisco Bethencourt. “Creolization of the Atlantic World: The Portuguese and the Kongolese.” Portuguese Studies 27, no. 1 (2011): 56–69.


In the 1930s, Gilberto Freyre’s praise of mixed-race people in Brazil challenged the idea of white supremacy, contributing to the building of a new Brazilian identity. In the 1950s, Freyre projected the idea of openness and racial mixture onto the Portuguese empire, fuelling Salazar’s colonial propaganda. The idea of Lusotropicalism was contested by Marvin Harris and Charles Boxer, who demonstrated that there were very few mixed-race people in Angola and Mozambique, and exposed the long history of racism in the Portuguese colonies. However, the fashionable notions of hybridism and creolization have been putting Freyre back on the map. The article exposes the limits of Freyre’s approach of inter-ethnic relations, structured around the flexibility (or otherwise) of white colonists. It engages with the much more interesting but problematic approach suggested by Linda Heywood and John Thornton, who shifted to Kongo and African agency the creolization of the Atlantic. It suggests a reassessment of the real Christianization of Kongo and its complex chronology, drawing attention to the royal interests of conversion, the limits of conversion among the population, and the conditions for erosion of Christianity in the long run.

NEWS: Two 2011-2012 IGK Fellows Working on Slavery

Two 2011-2012 Internationales Geisteswissenschaftliches Kolleg (IGK) Fellows at the Humboldt University of Berlin are developing projects related to slavery in Africa and the Americas.  From the website:

Martin Klein

Martin Klein is professor emeritus from the University of Toronto, where he taught African history. For most of the last forty years he has been doing research on the history of slavery and the slave trade within Africa. His most recent projects have been research into African sources for the history of slavery and the slave trade and efforts to look at slavery in a broad comparative perspective.

His project at the International Research Center involves a comparative study of slavery in West Africa. He intends to start with two questions – first, the different forms of slavery that emerged in the cities and factories that serviced the slave trade and the commodity trade that succeeded it; and second, the way the struggle for the control of labor after start of the emancipation process influenced the life options of former slaves.

Henrique Espada Lima

Henrique Espada Lima is professor in the Department of History at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil), where he teaches, supervises and conducts research on historiography and contemporary labor history. His first schooling was in psychology and he has a Masters degree in literature (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, 1993) and a doctorate in history (Universidade de Campinas, 1999). He has done research in the areas of contemporary historiography and micro-history as well as labor history, focusing on the lives of ex-slaves in nineteenth-century Brazil. He was coordinator of the Brazilian Academic Network of Labor Historians from 2007 to 2010.

His project at the International Research Center will focus on reconstructing the trajectories of individuals, families and groups of freed African slave workers and their descendants in a southern Brazilian locality – the Island of Santa Catarina – by delving into notarial and parochial records as well as judicial records (civil and criminal) and postmortem inventories. His research will examine and reconstruct these trajectories, focusing on the numerous strategies employed by these men and women in order to free themselves from slavery and assign meaning and content to the “freedom” they achieved. Special attention will be paid to the generational transits and the various labor and freedom arrangements as viewed through the lifecycles of individuals and families. The period covered by the research goes from approximately 1830 to 1900, focusing on the Brazilian slave system’s long-term process of disaggregation as well as on the first decade after emancipation, which came about in 1888. Finally, inspired by a growing scholarship in the field of labor history that proceeds from a global and transnational perspective and employing a micro-historical approach, his research will discuss a wide array of questions that focus on the blurred boundaries between “slavery” and “freedom”.

The International Research Center (IGK) “conducts research into work with a special focus on work as a concept and on its performativity.”  Read more about the center here and fellows here.

BOOK: Araujo on the Public Memory of Slavery

A water color by Jean Baptiste Debret (held by a museum in Rio de Janeiro); published in Ana Maria de Moraes, O Brasil dos viajantes (Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, 1994), image 469, p. 93, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.
Ana Lucia Araujo, Public Memory of Slavery: Victims and Perpetrators in the South Atlantic. Amherst, N.Y: Cambria Press, 2010.
via Cambria Press:

Continue reading “BOOK: Araujo on the Public Memory of Slavery”

Review: Divanna on Identity in Brazil

Carlos Juliao, Riscos illuminados de figurinhos de broncos e negros dos uzos do Rio de Janeiro e Serro do Frio (Rio de Janeiro, 1960), plate 27, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library."

Divanna, Isabel. “Multi-Faceted Approaches to Identity in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Brazil.” The Historical Journal 53, no. 01 (2010): 225-235.

First paragraph steal:

“The past four decades have seen the rapid expansion of the field of Brazilian studies in the Anglophone world. Brazilian scholars as well as their European and North American counterparts have re-evaluated the role of institutions, racial relations, party politics, and identity construction in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Brazil, replacing explanations of the colonial and imperial years based on economics with approaches that tend to prioritize politics, culture, and social relations.1 This review looks at recent Anglophone books about Brazilian history to understand how scholars have approached issues relevant to the construction of Brazilian identity from a variety of perspectives. Ranging from the matters of regional identity versus the national paradigm in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the contribution of race to the debates (historiographic and actual) about what constitutes the Brazilian character from 1750 to the present day, and the understanding of the Brazilian political culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the books surveyed here provide insight into the ways through which scholars are studying the creation and development of modern Brazilian identity. One possible comment about the state of Anglophone scholarship of Brazilian identity is, as will become clear in this review, that there is a lack of cross-methodological awareness from different fields of historical research, which often has led approaches to the question of identity to become compartmentalized and intra-disciplinary, as opposed to methodologically comparative. While this problem is not unique to Brazilian scholarship, it merits further attention….”

Cambridge Journals ($$)