C. Darius Gordon

My dissertation, "We, on the Other Side": Black Internationalism in/against the Lusophone World, 1950s-1970s examines a history of political solidarity in the Portuguese-speaking world. By looking at a series of encounters between Black activist-intellectuals from Brazil, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde, I examine the circulation of revolutionary ideas that animated movements for liberation and the conditions that made that circulation possible.

Ever since I was young, I’ve been curious about the experiences of Black people in other parts of the world. For most of my life, I was only able to read about and see the Black diaspora in media. Today, the younger version of myself would be proud to know that forging connections in pursuit of Black diasporic solidarity is at the heart of my personal and professional life through research, teaching, and activism. The early stages of my dissertation project were born out of that childhood curiosity as I began to explore the history of Black Brazilian activism. Through many conversations with Brazilian friends, colleagues, and comrades, my interest shifted to incorporate an entire network of Black militants in the Portuguese-speaking Global South.

 In the decades following World War II, a national movement for Black self-determination was emerging in Brazil while the African colonies of Portugal were at war for national independence. Against the backdrop of these liberation struggles, several transnational opportunities were constructed that -- sometimes unintentionally -- facilitated relationships between these movements. My dissertation examines how these networks between Black activists in Brazil and anti-colonial revolutionaries of Portuguese-speaking Africa shaped the intellectual currents of their respective movements.  In the dissertation, I ask: 1) Under what conditions were Black internationalist relationships and projects between these regions made possible? and 2) What role did these relations play in the formation and maintenance of the Black, radical, and anti-colonial ideas that animated their struggles? This work expands histories of Black internationalism, highlights the intellectual legacy of struggles against racism and colonialism in the Global South, and complicates notions of transnational solidarity.

With the financial support of John L. Simpson Fellowship, I was able to access the archives and communities necessary to bring my project to fruition. It allowed me to conduct archival research visits to Brazil and Portugal. In Brazil, I visited numerous state, federal, and university archives in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, São Carlos, and Campinas. Additionally, I was able to visit the personal archives of the late Brazilian activist and intellectual, José Maria Nunes Pereira, which is housed in his daughter’s home. In Portugal, I visited the National Archive, Torre do Tombo, and the Overseas Historical Archive, both located in Lisbon. Across these visits, I collected and analyzed documents such as correspondences, organizational documents, government surveillance documents, and press publications that illuminate how activists and their ideas circulated within a network of Black, anticolonial revolutionaries. In addition to studying the history of Black internationalism, this project has allowed me to engage in my own practice of transnational solidarity and network-building. As I traveled to conduct this research, I also met and connected with scholars, activists, and community members who allowed me to forge, strengthen, and support existing infrastructures for contemporary Black Atlantic solidarities.

I’m grateful for the GIAS and its commitment to funding research that explores critical issues around the world. More specifically, GIAS uniquely allowed me to pursue a project that thinks across regional and national borders. 

Upon completing my dissertation, I plan to extend and revise this research toward a publishable book manuscript. Ultimately, my career goal is to become a professor who researches and teaches about the ideas that animate movements for social change while bridging the fields of Black Studies, African Studies, Latin American Studies, and History.