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African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World By A ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World

Introduction

Wounded Pasts

Memory of Slavery and African Heritage in Brazil

Ana Lucia Araujo

It is now common knowledge among scholars of slavery that Brazil imported the largest number of enslaved Africans during the Atlantic slave trade era. Until the early 1850s, most enslaved Africans who arrived on Brazilian shores were forced to embark at West Central African ports, especially in Luanda (present-day Angola). Today, with the exception of Nigeria, the largest population of people of African descent is in Brazil. In fact, the most recent census of 2010 revealed that more than 50 percent of Brazilians identify themselves as black and brown. Yet Brazil has a complex relationship with its slave past; consequently, these complications spill over into the various dimensions of Brazil’s rich African heritage that originated from this tragic period.

Brazil’s history of slavery is still imprinted in the country’s urban and rural landscapes. However, neither the Brazilian government nor historians have ever engaged in a systematic project to collect oral accounts by former slaves—this was done in the United States through