African at Noon – April 20, 2011 Luis Nicolau Parés

Upcoming Africa at Noon Events

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

African Nations and Ethnic Identity in the Mina Coast and in Brazil: an Atlantic Comparative Approach

Luis Nicolau Parés
Department of Anthropology
Federal University of Bahia

Time and Location: 12:00pm, 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

Co-sponsored by the African Diaspora and Atlantic World Research Circle and the Brazil Initiative.

The lecture examines the formation of collective identities during the slave trade period in both West Africa and Brazil. It argues that processes of classification of culturally heterogeneous groups under generic categories were a dynamic that replicated throughout the Atlantic perimeter and that this phenomenon favoured systems of multi-layered forms of identification. Moreover, it contends that both in Africa and the Americas the creation of bonding collective identities, ethnic or otherwise, engaged a complex system of vectors including language, kinship, narrative of origin, ancestrality and religious ritual. Yet, while in the Diaspora the linguistic and religious nationalism was paramount in the West African context ethnicity seems to have operated in a dialectic way with alternative forms of territorial nationalism. The lecture also intends to highlight how the study of ethnic identification in pre-colonial West Africa can greatly benefit from an Atlantic comparative perspective.