Brown Bag Lecture featuring Professor Pedro Schacht Pereira - "Hegel, Exceptionalism and other unexamined links in the Portuguese Black Atlantic"

March 10, 2015
Pedro Schacht Pereira

The Department of African American and African Studies is pleased to announce the Brown Bag Presentation featuring Professor Pedro Schacht Pereira. The talk is entitled, “Hegel, Exceptionalism and other unexamined links in the Portuguese Black Atlantic”. The talk is scheduled for Friday, 3/27/2015 from 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM and will be held in the AAAS Conference Room (386B University Hall). For more information please contact, Dr. Devin Fergus at or the Department of African American and African Studies at 292-3700.



Much has been written about Portugal’s Estado Novo (1933-1974) appropriation of Gilberto Freyre’s Lusotropicalist discourse for the purpose of justifying continued presence in several African territories, especially after the 1950’s. More recently, scholars such as Miguel Vale de Almeida have suggested a different genealogy for lusotropicalism, one that is rooted in Portugal and more specifically in the writings of the Renascença generation of the 1890’s. Research conducted in Portuguese archives has allowed me to establish that the roots of lusotropicalist discourse can be found much earlier, in late eighteenth-century travel narratives penned by British travellers to Brazil, who interpret the conspicuous abundance of freed slaves in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia as a sign of Portugal’s more humane approach to colonialism. In his Lessons on the Philosophy of World History, Hegel will formulate the thesis that Portuguese colonialism was more humane than that of its European counterparts, based on the uncritical reproduction of the views expressed in the aforementioned British narratives. My interest in establishing this unexamined genealogy does not derive so much from a strictly philological valuing of sources; rather, in this paper I will argue that what the study of these sources shows is that lusotropicalism is a discourse written in a certain fashion, a mode of writing; that particular mode of writing, which consists of reading events, judgments of value and documentary sources at face value, is what gets reproduced periodically, particularly when the survival of a certain self-image of the nation is at stake.