Introduction: Who Were the Masters in the Americas?
“Europe ruled but without governing; governing first was Africa” (Casa-Grande e Senzala 5).1 This quotation is from Gilberto Freyre, the Brazilian sociologist who canonized plantation assimilationism as national leitmotif with the publication of Casa-Grande e Senzala in 1933. Because Freyre’s celebration of black culture centers on culinary, sexual, and spiritual traditions, it does not disarm normative master/slave, colonizer/colonized oppositions. Instead, African predominance becomes a commonplace without unsettling Europe’s historical-material control. The introduction of this quotation in a book dealing with plantation symbolics in the Americas—a book that is launched into a principally U.S. academic market—will be jarring to sensibilities accustomed to paradigms of master/slave relations employed in the United States.
KeywordsAfrican Culture Hybrid Culture American Polity Interracial Contact Racial Exclusion
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