This 3-day symposium will commemorate Dia da Consciência Negra (Brazilian Day of Black Consciousness) and will focus on themes of race, identity, and black consciousness in Brazil and the African Diaspora. Through interdisciplinary panel discussions, film screenings, lecture, drumming/dance/capoeira workshops, and an evening-length musical performance, the Swarthmore community will have various opportunities to engage with invited scholars, artists, and cultural workers from both Brazil and the U.S. who have a vested interest in promoting racial equity, social justice, and cultural resistance. The symposium will culminate with a captivating live musical and interdisciplinary performance, “The Mandinga Experiment,” conceived and led by Alex Shaw ’00. Accompanied by live vintage visuals and featuring guest musicians, dancers, and capoeiristas from Brazil and the United States, The Mandinga Experiment is a blend of Shaw’s original compositions and contemporary interpretations of traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms and songs, paying special tribute to the legacy of Capoeira Angola.
Dandha da Hora & Alex Shaw ‘00
Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 4:30pm-6:30pm
Clothier Hall, Upper Tarble
Workshop will focus on Afro-Brazilian drum and dance traditions of northeast Brazil, such as samba, samba-reggae, and orixá-based movement. Participants should wear movement-appropriate clothing.
Film Screening: The Summer of Gods / Rhythmic Uprising
Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 7:30pm
Science Center, Chang Hou Hall, Room 101
Synopsis: The Summer of Gods (Drama, 2014, 21’)
The Summer of Gods is a short film about a young girl named Lili who unites with her Afro-Brazilian religious ancestry on a summer visit with family to their ancestral village in rural Brazil. During her stay, she encounters Orishas (African gods) who help her find peace with a gift that has previously vexed her. The film is set in the Northeast of Brazil where Afro-Brazilian religious traditions remain strong. Lili’s Grandma upholds Orisha traditions as an admired local priestess, but to ensure these traditions carry on after she passes, the gifted Lili is led on a mystical adventure of initiation through a nearby forest.
Synopsis: Rhythmic Uprising (Documentary, 2009, 58’)
Rhythmic Uprising is a documentary film that shows how cultural leaders in Bahia, Brazil use vibrant Afro-Brazilian traditions to fight racism, social exclusion, and poverty. The film outlines the transformative powers of a large movement of grassroots cultural youth projects that make up the latest chapter in a creative struggle for racial equality that began four centuries ago with Brazil’s first communites of freed slaves called “Quilombos”. Traditions featured in the film include capoeira, candomblé, blocos afros, theater, and circus.
Screening will be followed by a talk back with Eliciana Nascimento, writer/director of The Summer of Gods, and co-producer of Rhythmic Uprising
Workshop: Capoeira Angola
Mestra Paulinha of Grupo Nzinga
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 1pm-3pm
The Matchbox, Table Commons
Capoeira Angola is an Afro-Brazilian martial art rooted in Bantu culture, developed by enslaved Africans struggling for liberation in colonial Brazil. Integrating the elements of movement, percussion, and song/oral history, Capoeira Angola serves as a social tool for cultural resistance, empowerment, and community building. Participants should wear athletic pants and sneakers.
Panel Discussion: Art and Cultural Resistance in Black Brazil and the Diaspora
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 4:30pm
Kohlberg Hall, Scheuer Room
Moderator: Lela Aisha Jones
Panelists: Dr. Paula Barreto, Dr. Kenneth Dossar, Eliciana Nascimento, Dandha da Hora
This panel discussion will consider multiple perspectives on how traditional and contemporary diasporic arts and cultural practices have been utilized as a means of cultural resistance, with a specific focus on the African-Brazilian contribution to Black Consciousness.
Film Screening: Of Slaves and Saints (Escravos e Santos) / Who We Really Are (Quem Realmente Somos)
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 7:30pm
Science Center, Chang Hou Hall, Room 101
Synopsis: Of Slaves and Saints (Documentary, 2014, 27’)
In the confines of the outback of Bahia, every 12th of October, men and women gather to celebrate the Langa of Our Lady Aparecida. To the fervent sounds of prayers and traditional music, they dance and sing throughout the night, expressing their devotion to the Black saint. But this mystical scenario conceals sad stories. These are stories of pain and suffering. Stories of enslaved men and women, told by the Black people of the region, the way they heard from their grandparents and great-grandparents.
Synopsis: Who We Really Are (Documentary, 2015, 76’)
African Brazilian Master Roxinho comes to Australia in 2006 and starts teaching the art form of Capoeira Angola to a group of troubled young African refugees who go to Cabramatta High School. The school is uncertain of what to make of this program. Some fiercely resist it, arguing it is not helping students improve their behavior and literacy. Others defend it, arguing the program will help African refugees with no prior education to better integrate into Australia. The filmmaker becomes deeply involved with participants as he follows, in a participatory filmmaking style, the unfolding stories of migration and African diaspora that emerge from in between the walls of a multicultural school in the outskirts of Sydney, Australia.
*Screening will be followed by a talkback session with Marcio de Abreu, director/producer of “Of Slaves and Saints,” and Paulo Alberton, director of “Who We Really Are.”
Lunch Lecture: Africa in Brazil: Candomblé, Capoeira, and Consciousness
Professor C. Daniel Dawson
Friday, March 18, 2016, 12:30pm
Black Cultural Center
The talk will focus on the formation of Brazilian national identity through the use of African cultural models such as Candomblé and Capoeira. It will also look at the important different African traditions, e.g. Yoruba and Congo traditions, and their struggle for cultural authenticity and contemporary viability.
Panel Discussion: Race, Identity, and Black Consciousness in Brazil and the Diaspora
Friday, March 18, 2016, 4:30pm
Science Center, Room 105
Moderator: Dr. Brenda Gottschild-Dixon
Panelists: Dr. Paula Barreto, Prof. C Daniel Dawson, Márcio de Abreu
This panel discussion will consider the legacy of Black Consciousness in the context of systematic racism, racial politics, and Black identity in both Brazil and the U.S.
Concert: Alex Shaw: The Mandinga Experiment
Friday, March 18, 2016, 8pm
Lang Performing Arts Center, Pearson-Hall Theater
Accompanied by live vintage visuals and featuring guest musicians, dancers, and capoeiristas from Brazil and the U.S., The Mandinga Experiment is an amalgamation of Shaw’s original compositions and contemporary interpretations of traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms and songs, paying special tribute to the rich legacy of Capoeira Angola.
This event is made possible by the William J. Cooper Foundation
All Cooper Series events are free and open to the public
For more information, www.swarthmore.edu/cooper