Dies the researcher Fernando Arenas, reference in cultural studies about Lusophone Africa

Considered one of the greatest experts in the United States in the contemporary cultural production of Portuguese-speaking Africa, Fernando Arenas has passed away this Wednesday (30).

Arenas was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2018. He is survived by his partner, David, and other family members. He taught at the University of Minnesota, and later at the University of Michigan in the Department of AfroAmerican and African Studies.  “He was a wonderful scholar of Lusophone culture, especially of film, literature, and culture, publishing many articles and books”, written the colleague Kathleen Sheldon, in an online community of researchers.

The Portuguese translation of his most recent book, “Lusophone Africa – Beyond Independence”, was released a few days ago in Brazil by the  USP Publishing House (Edusp).

Capa da edição brasileira do livro
Capa da edição brasileira do livro

The book features, according to the author, “a kaleidoscopic view” of the five Lusophone African countries (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe). For this, he investigates aspects of popular music, cinema and literature and makes an association with the phenomena linked to postcolonialism and globalization.

“In the post-Marxist era, cinema continues to provide a platform for investigating the consequences of the civil war, the vicissitudes of the nation, and the potential horizon in the lives captured on-screen through films by Flora Gomes, Licínio Azevedo, Zezé Gamboa and Maria João Ganga ”, reports.

The author also states that since independence, literature in Africa has remained a bastion of critical awareness of persistent socioeconomic inequalities and unfulfilled political expectations, citing Angolan writers such as Manuel Rui, Pepetela and Ondjak.

Fernando Arenas
Fernando Arenas

He also writes about Cape Verdean music, which from Cesária Évora and the new generation of artists attracted worldwide attention, bringing prestige to this small African nation, with positive effects on the culture and economy of the country. parents.

“Lusophone Africa aims to move the discussions beyond the heroic accounts of the liberation struggles and beyond the uncritical and overly careful approaches around the political elites of countries such as Angola and Mozambique, which have predominated in the humanities, especially in the field of literary studies, ” says Arenas.

+ Fernando Arenas is also the author of “Utopias of Otherness: Nationhood and Subjectivity in Portugal and Brazil” (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) and written – along with Susan C. Quinlan,  the book “Lusosex: Sexuality and Gender in the Portuguese-Speaking World” (University of Minnesota Press, 2002).