Africa & the Lusophone World

On the International Day of Portuguese Language and Culture, an occasion celebrated all across the Lusophone world, Canning House gathers together a panel of academics to explore the history and legacies of the common cultural and language ties of Brazil, Portugal and the countries of Lusophone Africa.

With this discussion we seek to achieve a renewed understanding of the Lusophone world for our 21st century context – acknowledging and overcoming colonial legacies, celebrating contemporary Lusophone culture and dispelling popular myths, and examining these nations’ economic and political ties of today.

With contributions from:

Dr Vinicius de Carvalho

Senior Lecturer, Brazil Institute, War Studies, King’s College London

As Chair of our event, Vinicius opened with an overview of the significance of the 5th of May - the International Day of Portuguese Language and Culture, celebrated by the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) - for the contemporary appreciation of Lusophone culture and the Portuguese language, but also more broadly in Lusophone and Latin American history.

Nayanka Paquete Perdigao

Research Associate at the African Leadership Centre, King's College London

Nayanka offered a comprehensive overview of the history of the ties between the countries of the Lusophone world. Her presentation ranged from Portuguese expansionism and the trade of enslaved Africans to the end of colonialism, Lusophone African revolutions and the leadership of the CPLP as new challenges emerge for migrant communities. She emphasised that this history is the foundation of a rich, evolving culture of hybridity, in which a decentralised community draws from common ties.

Dr Felipe Botelho Correa

Senior Lecturer in Brazilian, Portuguese and Lusophone African Studies, King's College London; affiliate of the King's Brazil Institute; editor-in-Chief of Brasiliana: Journal for Brazilian Studies

Felipe focused on historic notions of Portuguese colonial exceptionalism in his presentation, which raised important considerations on the role of the racialised colonial world in the development of modern and contemporary Lusophone culture and ties. He raised the intertwining concepts of transnationalism, Luso-Tropicalism, and the notion of Portuguese overseas territories in the decolonising 20th-century world. In closing, he questioned how Lusophonia can be addressed more pragmatically to move beyond exceptionalism going forward.

Nicolas Lippolis

PhD Candidate at University of Oxford; researcher at the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance

Nicolas put forward in his presentation that where history and culture constitute rhetoric, contemporary economics can represent reality. Focusing on the approaches of Portugal and Brazil to Lusophone Africa, he highlighted some significant contrasts. While Portugal has maintained a relatively close economic relationship with Lusophone Africa in the post-colonial era, Brazil's approach has appeared sporadic. However, while Brazil has emphasised common historic bonds and potential for south-south cooperation, Portugal has tended towards decentralisation.

In answer to a question on the role of Brazil in south-south cooperation, our panel highlighted that Lusophone Africa must be allowed to elect its own path forward, though that Brazil is an increasingly popular location for students from African nations. Brazil's approach to the continent was compared to those of China and India, and shown to be rooted in its own political economy.

Finally, Vinicius offered the Portuguese language as a medium to build community, quoting poet Fernando Pessoa: "My homeland is the Portuguese language."

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