Stephen Small on tour in Brazil

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Stephen Small made a visit to Brazil from March 22nd until April 2nd and gave several lectures. In Rio de Janeiro, Small visited the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, where he gave a lecture on ‘Theorizing Black Europe’ to a packed audience of professors and students. He was hosted at the Federal university by Professor Amilcar Pereira and Professor Monica Lima. His paper was based on research for his book – 20 Questions and Answers on Black Europe, which will be published later this year. He also did a lecture on the same topic at the State University of Rio De Janeiro, hosted by Professor Joao Feres.

Small also travelled to São Luís do Maranhão where he gave four lectures in the two-week intensive seminar – ‘The Factory of Ideas’ (Fabrica De Idees), organized by Professor Livio Sansone of the Federal University of Bahia (Salvador). This year’s theme – and the focus of Small’s lectures – was ‘Heritage, Inequality and the Politics of Culture’. Scholars from Germany (Dr. Prof. Dmitri van den Bersselaar), Senegal (Prof. Ibrahima Thiaw), from the Federal University of Bahia (Prof. Jamile Borges) and the State University of Maranhão (Dr. Carlos Benedito Rodrigues) and others gave several lectures on a variety of topics pertaining to the seminar’s themes. Small’s lectures covered the legacies of colonialism and imperialism in museums and communities across Europe.

Small also gave a public lecture on the politics of culture – ‘Reggae Music: Jamaica’s gift of Black Consciousness to the world’ – in which he articulated many of the ways in which the politically-inspired lyrics of reggae musicians from Jamaica provide a path to question and challenge the colonized education of western universities. Drawing on some of the top reggae performers in Jamaica – from Bob Marley and the I-Threes, Burning Spear and Mutabaruka, to reggae performers in Europe – like Aswad, Steel Pulse and Linton Kwesi Johnson in England, and Lord Kossity in France’  – he emphasized how knowledge production outside the academy provides an antidote to the distorted and biased teachings on colonialism and its legacies of many academic scholars. The talk received a standing ovation. This was an important confirmation of its relevance and appeal – especially in light of the fact that São Luís do Maranhão is popularly known as the ‘Reggae Capital of Brazil”.