Fighting against Enslavement in Benguela, Angola, 1816-1818

Four part video filmed during the Angola Field Group Presentation on November 29, 2012 at the Viking Club: “Fighting against Enslavement: José Manuel and Nbena in Benguela, 1816-1818”, presented by José C. Curto. The first two videos feature Professor Curto’s introduction with background on José Manuel and Nbena. The second two videos feature Nbena’s story.

The presentation is about the struggles of two individuals struggling against enslavement in the second half of the 1810s in Benguela. In the process, issues such as who could and who could not be enslaved in Angola and forced to undergo the Middle Passage to Brazil are addressed. The tales of José Manuel and Nbena show that the new colonial order established by the Portuguese in this part of Africa took form in a broader context of extreme violence and disorder occasioned by the continued capture, sale, and export of slaves. Here, the “order and civility” underpinning colonial society were subject to violation at any time, as much if not more so by others of African descent seeking gain, as by the colonial authorities themselves.

Our presenter José C. Curto is the author of “Enslaving Spirits: The Portuguese‑Brazilian Alcohol Trade at Luanda and its Hinterland, c. 1550‑1830” (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2004). A longer version of this major study appeared earlier in Portuguese: “Álcool e Escravos: O comércio luso-brasileiro do álcool em Mpinda, Luanda e Benguela durante o tráfico atlântico de escravos (c. 1480‑1830) e o seu impacto nas sociedades da África Central Ocidental” (Lisbon: Editora Vulgata, 2002). Curto has co-edited two collections of essays, including “Africa and the Americas: Interconnections during the Slave Trade”, with Renée Soulodre-La France (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2005), and another with his colleague Paul E. Lovejoy, “Enslaving Connections: Changing Cultures of Africa and Brazil during the Era of Slavery” (Amherst, New York: Humanity Books, 2004). His articles in the Portuguese Studies Review (2002), African Economic History (2001, with Raymond Gervais), Africana Studia, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, and Annales de démographie historique have made important contributions to our knowledge of the historical demography of Lusophone Africa.

José C. Curto received his Ph.D. in African History from the University of California at Los Angeles. He is presently Associate Professor of History at York University in Toronto, where he is also Deputy-Director of the Harriet Tubman Resource Center on the African Diaspora.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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