Slavery and Atlantic history

Research projects:

Africa in Brazil and Brazil in Africa: new horizons

Description: Interdepartmental and interdisciplinary project, in partnership with Brazil - Africa Research Support Group, which seeks to articulate different groups of researchers from USP with spheres external to the university. The project proposes the discussion of methodologies in the approach of different African themes and relations between Brazil and African countries; the promotion of seminars and publications; the support for research and the participation in academic meetings; the location of sources for the African and Afro-Brazilian studies; its systematisation and availability of information in databases; the organisation of a site whose sources, publications and teaching materials, results of studies and seminars will be accessible.

Professor in charge: Marina de Mello e Souza (


Slavery and post-emancipation: social institutions and history of the Brazilian daily life in the 19th century

Description: This project develops two essential themes: the first being a historiographic and documental review of abolitionism in the 19th century in the southeast Brazil and the second a further development of the study of slave rebellions in the farms of the state of São Paulo during the last decade of Abolition.

Professor in charge: Maria Helena Pereira Toledo Machado (


Travel narratives and the African market dynamics (18th-19th centuries)

Description: The current project continues the investigations developed earlier regarding both the Thematic Project Dimensions of the Portuguese Empire (Chair Jaime Cortesão/Fapesp) and the appropriation of the Brazilian National Library Foundation (2010); its main objective is to study European travellers’ reports about Africa. The research resulted in studies published in anthologies and journals, focusing on the actions of European surgeons connected to slave trade, the circulation of their knowledge and the discussion with medical science. Generally speaking, current research maintains the same intention to explore the travel reports, especially those linked to European business off the coast of Africa, as historical sources for the study of African trade dynamics.

Professor in charge: Maria Cristina Cortez Wissenbach (


Landscapes of the slavery in coffee production in the Americas, c. 1760-1880

Description: The research project is articulated to two broader investigations carried out between 2005 and 2009. In the first of them, which received a Research Collaborative Grant from the Getty Foundation, I researched, in partnership with foreign colleagues, the landscape and the plantations’ architecture of three farming areas that have excelled in the global market of the 19th century by the dynamism of their economies based on slavery: the Lower Mississippi River, in the United States of America (the largest cotton-producing region in the mid-19th century) the west of Cuba (same for sugar) and the Valley of the Paraíba do Sul River, in Brazil (same for coffee). The second investigation was elaborated within the scope of the FAPESP Thematic Project Foundation of the Brazilian State and nation, 1790-1850. The study developed there dealt with the politics of slavery in Brazil and Cuba in the first half of the 19th century, addressing a side of the slavery’s construction in these two places that was little contemplated in the project about the landscape and the plantations’ architecture. The main objective of this project is to continue the path opened in 2005, articulating the dimensions of the material and the political culture of Atlantic slavery. The new survey will develop the analysis of the object under investigation in the first of the two projects mentioned above, as I will expand its temporal and spatial arc. In other words, I intend to examine the landscape and the architecture of American coffee plantations in a period that comprises from the mid-18th century to the end of slavery in Brazil.

Professor in charge: Rafael de Bivar Marquese (


Demographic regimes and slavery in the colonial period

Description: The project aims to better understand the demographic regimes and slavery active in the Brazilian past. The central focus of the proposal is an attempt to reconstitute some basic indicators of colonial society and collate them with those already available relating to villages and regions of Portuguese America, mapping and discussing demographic constraints and opportunities. The vital records series of the population are very complete for the broad range of little more than two centuries. Its analysis will enable a better understanding of the migratory dynamics that compose the Brazilian demographic regimes, as well as the standards of nuptiality, fertility, mortality, and seasonality through time.

Professor in charge: Carlos de Almeida Prado Bacellar (


Reports of business trips in the intersections of the backcountry and Atlantic market in the 19th century

Description: The objective is to assess the dynamics and the intersections between the Atlantic market of slaves and the peasant caravans coming from the interior of the African continent in the first half of the 19th century. Through reports made by Africans, Luso-Brazilians and Europeans, the objective is to document issues regarding the complex process of abolishing slave trade and the changes occurred in the African social and economic dynamics. Project developed with students who finished their undergraduate research and begun their master’s program, it aims to establish a dialogue among similar studies, provide information basis and useful reference to members of the larger group of graduate students linked to the study of African history themes.

Professor in charge: Maria Cristina Cortez Wissenbach (


Sociability, ethnic encounters, and gender relations in a world of slavery (Brazil and Africa, 17th-19th centuries)

Description: In the broad set of issues arising from the social dynamics related to Atlantic trade and colonisation, involving the African universes and the societies of the New World, the general project of guidance aims to encourage and guide historical research to elucidate mechanisms of domination and resistance concerning slavery in society and the historical processes produced by the trade and by the Atlantic diaspora between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Professor in charge: Maria Cristina Cortez Wissenbach (