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Walter Hawthorne
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI 48824-3407)
Forging an Atlantic Creole Culture: Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast, in Portugal, and in Northeast Brazil, c. 1600-1800

Through evidence derived from unique, recently uncovered sources, my study will take a new approach to Atlantic history. Rather than depicting, as most scholars do, cultural encounters between Africans and Europeans and among Africans from disparate ethnic groups as being new to the New World, I will describe them as part of a single series of experiences that began in the Old Worlds and continued in New. Though the cultural expressions of black and white immigrants to the Americas were syncretic, they were, I argue, of a syncretism born on the other side of the ocean. In the case of the Northeastern Brazilian provinces of Maranhao and Para, the core cultural beliefs of most arrivals, be they white or black, were not fundamentally different. They were rooted in a common, centuries old Atlantic discourse that had long been developing on Africa's Upper Guinea Guinea Coast, in Angola and in Portugal. The study is based on research performed in Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, and Brazil.

Project fields:
African History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2008 – 6/30/2009