Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic
“We Love to Be Africans”: Saudade and Affective Performances in Bahia, Brazil
This chapter focuses on Black American movement toward Africa as it is performed in Bahia, Brazil. Black American travel to Brazil began in the early twentieth century, when the nation promoted itself as and was widely believed to be a racial paradise and a model for positive postslavery race relations. The chapter goes on to examine the widespread notion that Afro-Brazilians have been able to retain African traditions in ways that Black Americans have not. Through the close reading of travel narratives, analyses of ethnographic interviews with expatriates, and participant-observation of tours, the chapter argues that readings of Bahia as a utopic place in which to realize the American Dream are often based on the myths that Afro-Bahians propagate about their relationship to Africa in tourism narratives and their ensuing performances, which work to help them assuage their motherland yearnings. The chapter goes on to demonstrate how the presence of Black Americans authenticates these myths.