The book is the first comprehensive study of race relations in Angola. It covers the entire five-century-long relationship between the peoples of Angola and Portugal. Portuguese imperial thinkers asserted that they were unique among European colonizers in their ability to establish and maintain egalitarian and non-discriminatory relationships with tropical peoples. This concept was elevated to a philosophical plateau and given the name Luscotropicalism. Propagated with fervor by Portuguese colonial thinkers, Lusotropical doctrines were widely accepted as being valid by twentieth-century diplomats and political thinkers in both Europe and the United States, many of whom believed that Portuguese colonialism in Africa would continue indefinitely.
The evidence presented in this work indicates that Portuguese rule in Angola was deeply racist. This conclusion is based on a considerable body of data gleaned from archival sources, personal collections, and systematic interviewing of racially diverse Angolans and Portuguese functionaries in the colonial administration and the private sector. Special emphasis is placed on devices that the Portuguese used to delude themselves and others about the realities of their attitudes and behavior as ruling elites. The study concludes with an assessment of the impact of Lusotropical myths on independent Angola.
“Bender’s book demolishes the theory of ‘lusotropicalism,’ according to which Portuguese colonialism was characterized by racial tolerance; it depicts the institutionalized relationships between black and white, including the settlement of Angola by Portuguese convicts and white disruption of black agriculture through expropriation and war time resettlement.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
GERALD J. BENDER is Associate Professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association (U.S.A.) from 1979 to 1987, and served as the association’s president between 1985 and 1986. Dr. Bender has been a long time commentator on African international relations and United States policies in leading American newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post. He has visited Angola at least 2-3 times every year since the county became independent in 1975 and is currently engaged in a project to study and reduce the incidence of AIDS in the Angolan Armed Forces.
History, Political Science, Ethnic Studies/AFRICA