This bibliography presents a selection of books in English that address major themes of the exhibition.



Curran, Mark J.  Brazil’s Folk-Popular Poetry – A Literatura de Cordel:  A Bilingual Anthology in English and Portuguese.  Victoria, BC, Canada:  Trafford Publishing, 2010.

Curran traces the origins of northeastern Brazil’s populist poetry tradition called literatura de cordel to its 17th and 18th century origins in Portugal and tells how this tradition became a vibrant folk expression in Brazil’s Northeast during the 19th century.


Almeida, Livia Maria de, and Ana Maria Portella and Margaret Read MacDonald, eds.  Brazilian Folktales (World Folklore Series). Westport, CT:  Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

This book introduces 40 popular Brazilian folk stories drawn from the African European, and indigenous roots that form Brazil’s culture.


Crook, Larry. Music of Northeast Brazil.  New York: Routledge, 2009.

Crook discusses the origins and characteristics of various musical traditions of the Northeast, relating these strong regional traditions to the evolution of Brazilian national music; the book includes a CD with samples of various musical forms.


Guillermoprieto, Alma. Samba.  New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

This book presents journalist Guillermoprieto’s personal experience of joining the Mangueira samba school in a favela near Rio to learn “first hand” the customs and traditions of Carnival.


Slater, Candace. Stories on a String.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

Slater discusses the history of literatura de cordel (small books of poetry sold hanging from strings in markets in the Northeast) and offers scholarly analysis of the structure and themes of this popular literary form.


Sullivan, Edward J., ed.  Body and Soul. New York:  Guggenheim Museum, 2001.

This 600-page exhibition catalogue covering Brazilian visual art from the 1500s through the 1990s includes a brief section on popular art and gives a comprehensive overview of Brazilian visual art through Brazil’s 500-year history.


Tribe, Tania Costa, ed.  Heroes and Artists:  Popular Art and the Brazilian Imagination.  Cambridge:  The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2001.

This illustrated catalogue, with its informative essays, accompanied an exhibition of Brazilian popular art organized by British-based Brazilian scholar, Tania Costa Tribe, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese “discovery” of Brazil.



Arons, Nick. Waiting for Rain: The Politics and Poetry of Drought in the Northeast of Brazil. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004.

Arons presents an engaging discussion of the history and culture of the drought-troubled Northeast, drawing on his own personal observations and on vernacular sources such novels, poetry, popular art and oral history.


Burns, E. Bradford.  A History of Brazil.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 3rd edition, 1993.

In this popular one-volume history of Brazil, Burns presents a comprehensive overview of Brazil’s complex history, with an emphasis on the country’s colonial foundations and early economic, political and cultural development.


Chandler, Billy Jaynes.  Bandit King:  Lampião of Brazil.  College Station: Texas A&M University, 2000.

Chandler traces the life and times of Lampião, the most famous cangaceiro (outlaw) of Northeast Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s, and notes parallels in the North American “Wild West” in the exploits of Jesse James and others.


Cunha, Euclides da.  Rebellion in the Backlands.  Translated by Samuel Putman.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1957. (originally published as Os Sertões, 1902)

Da Cunha’s extraordinary account of Brazil’s brutal military campaigns of 1896-97 to decimate the small and isolated renegade backlands community of Canudos and its charismatic leader, Antonio Conselheiro, is classic of Brazilian literature and was instrumental in re-shaping Brazil’s national self-image to include a consideration not just of the rich and powerful of the country but also the marginalized and poor.


Freyre, Gilberto.  The Masters and the Slaves (Casa-Grande & Senzala): A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization.  Translated by Samuel Putman.  Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press, 2nd revised edition, 1897. (originally published as Casa-Grande & Senzala, 1933)

When first published 1933, Freyre’s ground-breaking book acknowledged African as well as European contributions to Brazil’s distinct and rich heritage and advanced the idea of Brazil as a harmonious multi-racial culture.  Although Freyre’s notions of multi-racial harmony have been critiqued by later scholars, this book has been extremely influential in shaping Brazil’s modern self-image.


Gates, Jr.,  Henry Louis.  Black in Latin America.  New York and London:  New York University Press, 2011.

American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. examines the social and cultural worlds of the descendants of the 10.5 million enslaved Africans brought into six Latin American countries:  Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Peru.  The magnitude of enslaved African laborers transported to Latin America contrasts with the approximately half-million transported to the U.S.


Skidmore, Thomas E.  Brazil: Five Centuries of Change.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Skidmore’s concise history emphasizes economic and political developments in Brazil, particularly during the 20th century.


Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil – The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

Reis describes the political, economic, and social context of slavery in Bahia in the early-19th century and recounts the history of one of the best-organized slave rebellions in the Americas.



Harding, Rachel E. A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and Alternative Spaces of Blackness. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2000.

This book examines the development of Candomblé and its place in preserving the religion and culture of Africans in contexts of enslavement and repression.


Johnson, Paul. Gods, Gossip and Secrets – the Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé. New York: Oxford University Press. 2002.

Johnson’s insightful essays present, from a personal perspective, the roots of Candomblé with its emphasis on African purity and secrecy and share the rich history and local variations of this interesting religion.


Murphy, Joseph M. Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora.  Boston:  Beacon Press, 1995.

Theologian Murphy offers an introduction and overview of the religious traditions of African Diaspora in different areas of the Americas:  Vodou, Candomblé, Santeria, and the Black Church in the U.S.


Wafer, James. A Taste of Blood: Spirit Possession in Brazilian Candomblé.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991.

Cultural anthropologist Wafer shares his personal experience of Candomblé and provides a fascinating personal exploration of this powerful African-Brazilian religion.



Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. and Donald Yacovone.  The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross.  New York:  Smiley Books, 2013.

Companion publication to the six-part PBS documentary by the same name, this book offers new insights into 500 years of African American history and explores the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives comprising the multi-faceted African American experience.


Thompson, Robert Farris.  Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy.  New York:  Random House, 1983.

Thompson’s early and very influential book suggests connections between the arts and religious practices of Africa and parallels in the African Diaspora.


Walker, Sheila, ed.  African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas.  Lanham, Maryland:  Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001.

This collection of essays by leading scholars and cultural leaders of the African Diaspora discusses fundamental contributions of enslaved Africans and their descendants in creating and defining the unique cultures of the Americas.