Tubman Talks: “From Padrinhos to Patrões: the Legacy of Slavery and Power Relations in the Affective Life of Contemporary Brazilian Subjects”

Dr. Félix Ayoh’OMIDIRE will present a paper entitled, “From Padrinhos to Patrões: the Legacy of Slavery and Power Relations in the Affective Life of Contemporary Brazilian Subjects” on Thursday April 7 2016 at the Harriet Tubman Institute from 2:30-4:00


IMG_20160221_162259Slavery as an institution with its rigid power relations codes has deeply shaped the affective lives of all its actors, both slaves and masters alike, as amply demonstrated by Brazilian cultural anthropologist and theorist, Gilberto Freyre, in his classic Casa Grande e Senzala (1936). According to the Brazilian official discourse which sustained the myth of Racial Democracy, the brand of slavery that was operated in Brazil from the early 16th century to mid-1888 was characterized by a rather humane face that was supposedly absent in other slave societies, especially the North-American model. This purportedly attenuated the pains of slavery and power relations through some affective codes and praxis between the enslaved population and their white masters, setting the stage for a color and race relation characterized by mestiçagem and racial cordiality. A major instrument of such a process was the mechanisms of apadrinhamento of slave families by the senhores de escravos which supposedly guaranteed some protection for the enslaved and shielded them from the excesses of power abuse thereby building the foundation for the constitution of post-Emancipation Brazilian citizenry status and prospects for Afro-Brazilian subjects. The present paper intends to problematize and discuss the theory and praxis of apadrinhamento and its effects on the construction of affective relations between contemporary Brazilian citizens, blacks and whites alike, by analyzing two films – Domésticas, o filme (2001) and Casamento de Louise (2001).


Félix Ayoh’OMIDIRE (Ph.D) teaches Afro-Brazilian and Latin American literary, cultural and ethnic studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. From 2002 to 2006 he was an Exchange Professor of Yoruba at the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador-BA, Brazil, Félix Ayoh’OMIDIRE has held many scholarships and fellowship awards in different international institutions: he was a scholar of the Instituto Camões, Portugal (1997-1998); a CAPES – Brazilian Government Scholar (2002-2006), an AIF (Agence Intergouvernmentale de la Francophonie) scholar (2001), a DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Fellow (2009, 2015-2016) and a recipient of the Georg Forster Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (2011-2012, 2016).  His research areas cover Brazilian and Latin-American literatures, music and films, as well as Yoruba Diaspora Studies in different Latin American and Caribbean societies – Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Santo Domingo, etc. Apart from articles published in different reputable journals in places like Brazil, Nigeria, Austria, Cuba, Benin, South Africa, France, Austria, Argentina, Tanzania and the U.S.A. Félix Ayoh’OMIDIRE has authored seven books and co-edited 2 journals and a book in Nigeria and Brazil.

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