CLACS Hosts Series on the Legacy of Brazilian Slavery

João Reis, Where Slaves Were Slaveholders, Poster
João Reis, Where Slaves Were Slaveholders, Poster

Written by CLACS MA Candidate Constanza Smita Ontaneda Rehman-Khedker

Tomorrow, Thursday April 30th, CLACS will be proud to host a series of events on Brazilian Quilombos, with a live performance by Rio de Janeiro’s Maga Bo and BNegão. These two consecutive events are part of a larger series that focuses on the history, culture, and current affairs of the African Diaspora in the Americas.

Starting at 5pm, distinguished historian João José Reis (Universidade Federal da Bahia), will discuss the history of slave-owning slaves in Brazil in a presentation titled “Where Slaves were Slave Owners, the Case of 19th Century Bahia.”  

Born in Brazil, João José Reis received his PhD in History from the University of Minnesota.  He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Princeton University, Brandeis University, the University of Texas (Austin), and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris).  Reis has also been a Research Fellow at the University of London, Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), and the National Humanities Center.  Currently he is a Professor of History at the Universidade Federal da Bahia.  Reis’ books include Slave Rebellion in Brazil: the 1835 Muslim Revolt in Bahia (The Johns Hopkins University Press) and Death is a Festival: Funeral Rites and Rebellion in Nineteenth-Century Brazil (North Carolina Press), among others.  This lecture is co-sponsored by the Africa Diaspora Forum at NYU and Fordham University.

Quilombo do Presente e do Futuro, Poster
Quilombo do Presente e do Futuro, Poster

Later at 7pm, Maga Bo and BNegão will present “Quilombo do Futuro: The Contemporary Social and Cultural Resonance of Brazil’s Maroon Communities.”  Their performance will use the notion of runaway slave communities as an onset for the interaction of traditional and contemporary music in the country.  Runaway slave communities known as quilombos, were a fixture in Brazil during the colonial and early imperial eras.  Even after emancipation in 1888, quilombos remained part of the Brazilian social and cultural landscape.  Following the 1988 Constitution, which granted quilombo descendants land rights, they also became formally acknowledged communities with their own self-managed territories, a public recognition of a centuries-old settlement pattern.  Today’s comunidades quilombolas serve as gathering points for current practitioners of Afro-Brazilian culture as well as reminders of Brazilian historical development.   Maga Bo and BNegão will be joined by Professor Mariléa de Andrade (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) who will situate the artists’ work in a social context by addressing some of the contemporary challenges and successes of the quilombo movement in present-day Brazil.

The globetrotting U.S.-born, Brazil-based Maga Bo cranks out music that’s often described as transnational bass.  It’s just as heavy on the low-end as it is melodic in its use of traditional acoustic instrumentation and street recordings.  With well over a decade of production experience from his mobile studio that he has set up all across Africa, South America, India, and Southeast Asia, Maga Bo has released genre-bending, mind-blowing albums on venerable labels like Tru Thoughts, Post World Industries, and Soot.  He has worked and performed in over 40 countries including performances at WOMEX, Mundial and Transmediale.  His latest project, record label and compilation series Kafundó, is bringing to light Brazilian bass music essentially unknown to outside its home country – an effort that earned praise from Vice Media.

BNegão is a versatile vocalist and songwriter who was instrumental in Planet Hemp, one of Brazil’s pioneering hip-hop ensembles.  He later struck out on his own to form BNegão & Os Seletores de Frequencia, something like a Brazilian Bad Brains — their albums jump from punk to dub to hip-hop to soul just like the DC band did back in the day.  BNegão won the Orilaxé Prize for best black music singer in Brazil back in 2004.  His band’s 2012 album, Sintoniza Lá, won the MTV Video Music Brasil award for best album.  Later in 2012, he was part of the official Rio de Janeiro cultural delegation to the London Summer Olympic Games, where he performed in the closing ceremony in homage to the Afro-Brazilian musician Chico Science.  He and his band are currently recording their third album.

Maga Bo Soundcloud:

BNegão & Seletores de Frequência:

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