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Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551

Omoniyi Afolabi

Associate Professor Ph.D., 1997, Luso-Brazilian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Associate Professor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Department of African & African Diaspora Studies
Omoniyi Afolabi



Afro-Brazilian cultural studies; Lusophone African literature; comparative African diaspora studies

LAS 392P • Afro-Brazilian Diaspora

39803 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 305
(also listed as AFR 381, ILA 388 )
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DESCRIPTION:  This course is a seminar on Afro-Brazilians in the post-abolition (1888) era with the object of uncovering the strategies deployed by cultural producers and social movements’ practitioners in order to overcome the odds against their achievement of political power and self-determination.  Ranging in its analysis of literary texts, socio-cultural movements, visual arts, and cultural performances, it raises a number of questions: (i) What explains the continued exclusion of Afro-Brazilians from political power? (ii) What is the legacy/impact of slavery within this context? (iii) How is the concept of Africa (re) imagined, distorted, and manipulated in this regard? (iv)What are the discourses used to justify social inequalities and racial discrimination in Brazil? (v) How is the “radical” view on discrimination silenced while the “co-opted” perspective is promoted?  (vi) What are the effects of governmental patronage on cultural producers as they negotiate what Carl Degler calls the “mulatto escape hatch” ? and (vii) What are the limitations of ideology in an era of “globalization” and pragmatism?  These among other issues will form the basis of the seminar’s analysis of a social condition that goes beyond the more apparent “culture game” that must also be seen as a political game towards visibility, participation, and self-empowerment. 


The final grade will be based on 5 Position Papers (25%), active class participation (15%), a  Midterm Bio-Bibliographic Study (20%), a Research Proposal (10%) and a Final Research Paper (30%).


  1. Hanchard, Michael. Orpheus and Power
  2. Alves, Miriam & C.R. Durham. Finally Us/Enfim Nós
  3. Amado, Jorge. Tent of Miracles
  4. Crook, Larry and Randal Johnson.  Black Brazil
  5. Twine, Winddance.  Racism in a Racial Democracy
  6. Oliveira, Emanuelle. Writing Identity: The Politics of Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Literature
  7. Romo, Anadelia. Brazil’s Living Museum
  8. Pinho, Patricia.  Mama Africa: Reinventing Blackness

LAS 370P • Afro-Luso-Brazilian Worlds

40440 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm BEN 1.126
(also listed as AFR 372E, PRC 320E )
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The notion of a “Portuguese commonwealth” has always been an imperial desire of Portugal to the extent of justifying conquest and subjugation in the so-called “colonies” through varying tropical mythologies. Even after independence, Portugal continued to exercise tremendous cultural and political influences on its former colonies, including Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. This course engages some of the myths and realities in the Afro-Luso-Brazilian worlds while at the same time drawing connections and contrasts between them. In addition to a contextual survey of the “triangle”, we will examine some of the strategies adopted by the colonized to decolonize their minds through interdisciplinary case studies. Drawing upon a mix of theoretical, cultural, historical, sociological, and literary readings, we will tease out the vibrant affinities and/or tensions between Africa and Brazil, Africa and Portugal, Brazil and Portugal, Portugal and Asia, etc. We will foreground our discussions with the concepts of Luso-Tropicalism and Postcolonialism while reflecting on the myth of racial harmony in the Lusophone Atlantic world.

LAS 370P • Lusophone African Lits & Culs

40275 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm PAR 303
(also listed as AFR 374E, POR 329 )
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This is a survey course on Lusophone African literatures with particular emphasis on Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde Islands. The course focuses on combative struggle that led to the independence of the five nations as well as the new postcolonial tendencies such as ideological subversion, mythification, demythification, remythification, globalization, and resistance in the face of modernity and “post-colonial” disillusion. The course seeks to provide a panoramic view highlighting the common and divergent characteristics between the five.  Beyond the analysis of poems in A Horse of White Clouds: Poems from Lusophone Africa, we will focus on a few select authors such as Mia Couto, Luandino Vieira, Luís Bernardo Honwana, Lina Magaia, Paulina Chiziane, Germano Almeida, etc.


  1. Introduce students to the decisive moments of the literary history of Lusophone Africa.
  2. Analyze representative texts and highlight the thematic, contextual, and ideological issues.
  3. Question the current critical models and propose other more inclusive possibilities. 

Basic Themes:

  • Brief historical contextualization of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.
  • Exotic / colonial / national literatures.
  • Negritude movement, Pan Africanism, and African Personality.
  • Colonial wars; armed struggle; Affirmation of African identity.
  • Insularity, evasion, and anti-evasion.
  • Miscegenation, Lusotropicalism, mulatitude.
  • Colonial indictment and quest for freedom.
  • Slavery; Diaspora, “Contract” work.
  • Critique of the colonial society.
  • Rural vs. urban space.
  • Hope and Anticipation of new order.
  • Counterpoint of independence waves (Civil War—Angola & Mozambique)
  • Comparative perspectives: Africa, Afro-Brazil, Portugal? 


  1. Don Burness (ed.): A Horse of White Clouds: Poems from Lusophone Africa.
  2. José Luandino Vieira: The Real Life of Domingos Xavier.
  3. Luís Bernardo Honwana: We Killed Mangy-Dog.
  4. Lina Magaia: Dumba Nengue: Run for Your Life.
  5. Mia Couto: Voices Made Night.
  6. Germano Almeida: The Last Will of Senhor da Silva Araújo.


  • “Udju Azul de Yonta” (Blue Eyes of Yonta)
  • “Mortu Mega” (Those Whom Death Refused)
  • “O Herói” (The Hero)
  • “Terra Sonâmbula” (Sleepwalking Land)
  • “O Testamento do Sr. Napumoceno” (Napumoceno’s Will)


Afolabi, O. (2009) Afro-Brazilians: Cultural Production in a Racial Democracy. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Afolabi, O. (2008) Cadernos Negros/ Black Notebooks: Afro-Brazilian Literary Movement. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Afolabi, O. (2008) Trans-Atlantic Migration: The Paradoxes of Exile. New York/London: Routledge.
Afolabi, O. (2007) Afro-Brazilian Mind/ A Mente Afro-Brasileira: Contemporary Cultural and Critical Criticism. New Jersey: Africa World Press.
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