April 22, 2022

By Nicola T. Cooney

Fall 2022 Guest Speaker Series, POR 262 “Sounds and Stories: Voices in Portuguese”

On April 13th POR 262 “Sounds and Stories: Voices in Portuguese” welcomed Dr. Carla Martin, its final guest speaker, in a semester-long series dedicated to the short stories, artistic movements and musical traditions from or inflected by the African continent.

Dr. Martin is a postdoctoral Harvard College Fellow in the Department of African and African American Studies, where she teaches classes on African popular culture, black ethnic diversity, race and technology, and chocolate and food politics. Her current research projects focus on language, music, and digital media in the former Portuguese colonies and the politics of cacao and chocolate in Africa and North America. Dr. Martin’s talk "Messages from our poets/ I carry to the outside world": Ideologies of Cape Verdean Language and Music took us on a fascinating journey through changing concept of creole exceptionalism and its relationship with Cape Verdean musical production. Her presentation stimulated discussion around the complexity of race, gender, and sexuality in post-colonial settings and gave students an important glimpse into the musical universe of Cesária Évora and the political and cultural positioning of kriolu kabuverdianu, both in Cabo Verde and in the diaspora, home to the majority of Cape Verdeans.

“Having Professor Martin as a guest in our classroom brought Cesária Évora to life,” said Kateri Espinosa, a sophomore concentrating in Public and International Affairs. “She contextualized Cesária's Cape Verdean experience in a way that was true beyond what the media found worthy of selling. All in all, it was an absolute pleasure to hear Professor Martin share about how Cesária's lived experiences shaped her as a performer and member of the global Lusophone community and I am so thankful that I have been introduced to her work!”

Earlier in the semester POR 262 welcomed Prof. Lorraine Leu (U Texas at Austin) author of the seminal book Brazilian Popular Music: Caetano Veloso and the Regeneration of Tradition (Ashgate 2006), who gave a special class on Tropicália and Brazilian countercultures. We were also joined by Dr. Ana Catarina Teixeira (Emory U) whose illuminating talk “A ficção na desconstrução do discurso colonial: o caso de “Regresso Adiado” de Manuel Rui” was based on Angolan writer and activist Manuel Rui’s short story “O Mulato de Sangue Azul,” a daring work from the collection Regresso Adiado, for which Rui would be imprisoned by the PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado). Her presentation was a part of a larger enquiry in our course about the critical role of fiction writing and the União dos Escritores Angolanos in the foundation of post-colonial Angola.

“This talk opened my eyes to how colorism operates in Angola. I am grateful to Professor Cooney and Professor Teixeira for showing our class this text, which really changed the way I understand race not only in the Lusophone world but also in my own communities,” said Nicole Martin, a junior in Civil and Environmental Engineering, pursuing certificates in AAS and Portuguese.