In Light of Africa: Globalizing Blackness in Northeast Brazil
Published: October 2014© 2014
208 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.56 in, 1 map
In Light of Africa explores how the idea of Africa as a real place, an imagined homeland, and a metaphor for Black identity is used in the cultural politics of the Brazilian state of Bahia. In the book, Allan Charles Dawson argues that Africa, as both a symbol and a geographical and historical place, is vital to understanding the wide range of identities and ideas about racial consciousness that exist in Bahia’s Afro-Brazilian communities.
In his ethnographic research Dawson follows the idea of “Africa” from the city of Salvador to the West African coast and back to the hinterlands of the Bahian interior. Along the way, he encounters West African entrepreneurs, Afrobeat musicians, devotees of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé, professors of the Yoruba language, and hardscrabble farmers and ranchers, each of whom engages with the “idea of Africa” in their own personal way.
Chapter 1: Blackness and Africanity in Brazil and Elsewhere
Chapter 2: West African Cultural Brokers in Northeast Brazil
Chapter 3: Manifestations of Afro-Brazilian Blackness
Chapter 4: Blackness in the Bahian Sertão
Chapter 5: Conclusions
“This fascinating study of the idea of Africa in Salvador, Bahia, draws on a series of encounters with diversely situated people – African-born ‘tour guides’ who serve up what African American and other ‘roots’ visitors yearn for in this city known as Black Rome; white-clad Bahianas who sell the quintessential ‘African’ food, acarajé, and who turn out to be, in large majority, non-practitioners of Candomblé; academics, who have played such an essential role in the creation of Yoruba purity in the cult centers; and the people of the sertão, whose ideas of Blackness and Africa are so different from those in the city. Dawson effectively analyzes ‘Africa’ and ‘Blackness,’ emphasizing the highly contingent qualities of these powerful cultural constructs.”Richard Price, Duane A. and Virginia S. Dittman Professor Emeritus of American Studies, Anthropology, and History, College of William and Mary
“In Light of Africa is an ambitious exploration of the special place that Bahia holds in the history of the anthropology of the African diaspora as well as the prominent place that Africa holds in the cultural construction of Bahia. Rich in ethnographic materials, this book has much to offer to a wide range of readers in the fields of anthropology, Latin American studies, and Black studies.”Stephen Selka, Departments of American Studies and Religious Studies, Indiana University