Fictions of Racelessness: The Latin American Racial Imaginaries of Angola, 1901-2002


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Spanish and Portuguese


This dissertation examines the dominant current of Angolan nationalism in the twentieth century, which rejected expressions of blackness and race consciousness and forged an imaginary of a mixed-race nation at odds with its reality as a black-African country. By examining literature, press articles, political speeches, and educational materials, it tracks the emergence of this discourse to show that a nationalist, white-mestizo, creole elite in Angola, unidentified with black-African nationalisms, translated into Angola the Latin American imaginaries of race-mixing and racial harmony, mainly from Brazil and Cuba. Comparing these texts with archival material of the liberation movements, it argues that such discourse depoliticized the historical relations between race and colonization in Angola, ultimately legitimizing this white-mestizo group’s political rule after the country’s independence. This complicates the mainstream narrative that labels this South-South alliance in Angola as anticolonial. This study calls this resulting imaginary the “fictions of racelessness.”