Accepted paper:

Segregation and injustice in the colonial Angolan city, ca. 1961: a socio-historical reading of Luandino Vieira and Manuel Rui


Torin Spangler (Brown University)

Paper short abstract:

The present paper will analyze two short stories by Luandino Vieira and Manuel Rui, examining the ways in which each author reveals the contours of urban racial and economic segregation in the cities of Luanda and Huambo on the eve of Angola's Liberation War.

Paper long abstract:

Given the lack of a formal code of residential racial segregation in the Portuguese colonies along the lines of Apartheid South Africa, or the Jim Crow South in the United States, the myth of relative racial harmony in Portugal's African colonies has proved difficult to dismantle, generating romanticized images of colonial cities that, to some extent, persist to this day. Nevertheless, early on in Angola's anti-colonial struggle, Luandino Vieira and Manuel Rui demonstrated a keen understanding of the relationship between race, class and politics - namely, the Indigenous Code and colonial urban planning policies - which had a clear impact on patterns of de facto (and de jure) racial segregation in cities like Luanda and Huambo. We will observe how, in each of the short stories under analysis, Vieira and Rui both explore the historical trajectory of urban segregation in Angola prior to 1961. Likewise, both authors demonstrate how, despite the official abolition of the Indigenous Code in that same year, the outbreak of anti-colonial activity and the subsequent labeling of many black urban residents as potential "terrorists" would lead to a worsening rather than an improvement of interracial relations. While Vieira's and Rui's stories evidently represent the authors' literary and political objectives, when one reads the texts side-by-side with more recent historical and sociological research on the sociopolitical phenomena they dialogue with, it is nonetheless impressive how clearly the literary geographies of each author reflect the empirical universe they are meant to represent.

panel P19
African colonization and decolonization in lì‡terature