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Brazilian Political Science Review

On-line version ISSN 1981-3821

Bras. Political Sci. Rev. vol.13 no.1 São Paulo  2019  Epub June 10, 2019 


‘Two Brazils’: Renegotiating Subalternity Through South-South Cooperation in Angola

**Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Adopting a postcolonial perspective, this article approaches Brazilian South-South cooperation ‘narratives’ in Africa as part of a politics of identity that helps redefine Brazil’s place in the modern world. The article discusses how South-South cooperation operates as a site of knowledge and power through which a developmentalist Brazilian identity is reproduced and subalternity can be constantly renegotiated. Through a brief analysis of the narratives of Brazilian involvement in Angola, it emphasizes how the production of the state self is also permeated by several ambivalences that update colonial tropes and bring new forms of subjugation. If, on the one hand, the movement undertaken in the article permits discussing the very ambiguity of the postcolonial condition – mainly by exposing the tensions and indeterminacies that permeate Brazil’s engagements in the global arena – on the other hand, it opens up new theoretical avenues for analyzing Brazilian foreign policy.

Key words: Brazil; South-South cooperation narratives; postcolonial theory; identity; ambivalences; Africa; Angola

National-developmentalist narratives have been articulated in Brazil since the 1960s and have frequently been supported by projects of engagement with the so-called ‘Third World’. If, on the one hand, these narratives have perpetuated the notion of an unequal and dependent peripheral development, on the other, they have contributed to consolidating a form of foreign policy thinking in which structural determinants, a lack of power resources, and economic dependence, as proposed by Lima (2013) , should not be conceived as a limitation to redefining Brazil’s role in the modern international system. From this perspective, the so-called ‘turn to Africa’ ( FRAGOSO, 1981 ) emerged, in the 1970s, as a strategy for the country’s international engagement, allowing decision-makers to renegotiate Brazilian dependence within world capitalism.

Brazil’s cooperation with the African continent during the administrations of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff fitted into a more general context of the rise of so-called ‘emerging countries’. Although South-South cooperation (SSC) still plays a modest role in the global economic and foreign policy agendas of most emerging economies, it has contributed to significant changes in the geographies of world power. In general, many non-donors in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) articulate different demands on development cooperation by criticizing the conditionalities and effectiveness of traditional North-South cooperation (NSC) and, therefore, positioning themselves as an ‘alternative path’ to mainstream donors 1 .

The symbolic claims for alternative partnerships reveal the (re)production of a developmental imaginary in which inequalities and hierarchies of power can be negotiated and mitigated. However, it should be emphasized that the expansion and pluralization of SSC practices did not eliminate several of the challenges characteristic of traditional cooperation schemes. In fact, SSC has elicited a number of criticisms concerning the effects generated by technology and knowledge transfer, such as, for example, the growing association – and major dependence – of cooperation policies on private capital. During the 2000s, a set of governmental discourses and practices have contributed to consolidating the Brazilian development model as an example of socioeconomic ‘progress’ to be achieved by African countries – a middle ground between peripheral and colonial underdevelopment and European/American civilizational development. This shift, established and reproduced through cooperation narratives and policies between Brazilian agencies and some African countries, presents Brazil as a knowledgeable peer able to anticipate the setbacks and challenges of African development, producing an image of the country as a legitimate representative of the interests of the African continent, a position that was also frequently articulated within international forums in the field of development.

This article aims to discuss how ‘narratives’ of South-South Cooperation between Brazil and Africa, notably Angola, have a productive aspect that at the same time allows Brazil to reinterpret the linear ‘telos’ of modernization logic, to rearrange its own temporal and spatial development and, ultimately, to ‘renegotiate’ its identity representations within the international system. Furthermore, this article seeks to question the narratives of solidarity and horizontality that have guided Brazilian cooperation with Africa, particularly showing how these very narratives work to update colonial and hierarchical tropes. In this regard, narratives of SSC are intrinsically ambiguous. Even though Brazil’s SSC narratives demarcate a clear difference in relation to traditional cooperation schemes between North and South, their intent to transfer knowledge and capacities to those that do not possess them depends on an original and hierarchical distinction between a self that proclaims to hold an ‘exclusive knowledge’ ( INAYATULLAH, 2014 ) and an ‘other’ that lacks it ( INAYATULLAH, 2014 ). Brazilian narratives of SSC can be seen as informed by a colonial cultural imaginary that, according to postcolonial thinkers, is constantly reinvented though hierarchical dichotomies such as donor/receiver, even after the end of formal colonialism. As emphasized by Inayatullah (2014) , by claiming to have ‘exclusive knowledge’, ‘givers’ place themselves on the top, as the superior being, hiding their own doubts and insufficiencies ( INAYATULLAH, 2014 , p. 466). As argued in this article, it is precisely this colonial way of thinking that enables Brazil to speak from an authoritative locus of enunciation, albeit with an empathetic and fraternal tone.

The article is structured in three parts. The first part presents a postcolonial reading of development that, through historicization, questions its universal, natural and objective character. Starting from a debate about the colonial roots of the sequentialist imaginary of development, it aims to expose precisely its provincial character and, thus, to point to its inherent spatial and temporal situatedness. It argues, on the one hand, that the teleological narrative informing the idea of development consolidates hierarchies and violences that get reproduced within SSC. On the other hand, it emphasizes how this fact does not exclude multiple possibilities of resistance, ambivalence and hybridity. The second part of the article seeks to understand Brazilian SSC through the perspective of a situated post-colonialism, which considers the ambivalence of the Brazilian colonial experience in its attempts to reconcile antagonisms, producing the hybrid interrelation of ‘two Brazils’: one belonging to the past (to backwardness), and another destined to the future (to progress). In order to discuss how narratives of SSC with Africa contributes to the (re)production of a specific representation of the Brazilian self, the third part of the article analyze some governmental discourses and practices related to the engagement of Brazil in Angola. This analysis allows us to understand how SSC not only works to (re)produce but also to renegotiate the developmentalist image of Brazil, no longer assigning it an unequivocal peripheral and subaltern place in contemporary modernity. By exploring South-South cooperation as a specific locus of power and knowledge, this article aims to emphasize the tensions and ambivalences that have permeated Brazil’s engagement in the field of development over the last decade. It is hoped that this postcolonial problematization will contribute not only to exploring the indeterminacies of Brazil’s cooperation policies but also to stimulating the study of Brazilian foreign policy beyond dominant theoretical perspectives.

(Re)imagining and (re)ordering linear eurocentric knolewdege about development

International development cooperation (IDC) has been built on the assumption, present in the European imaginary, that the path from backwardness and underdevelopment to modernity and development follows through a ‘natural’ and, therefore, universal sequence – which leads to the twin assumption that all cultures and societies are supposed to go through the same stages (see BLANEY and INAYTULLAH, 2004 ). In this section, we draw on the contributions of Beate Jahn (1999) , Dispesh Chakrabarty (2000) , Ashis Nandy (1989) , Aníbal Quijano (2000) and Achille Mbembe (2018) to argue that the construction of such a developmentalist imaginary is tied to the colonial encounter.

According to Jahn (1999) , the state of nature, as an epistemological premise, has its roots on the political encounter between Europe and the Amerindians. From this point, she claims, the narrative of the state of nature has provided a historical and secular basis on which to build arguments in defense of ‘natural’ law that are at the heart of a universalist conception of society. By removing the state of nature from cultural anonymity, Jahn (1999) claims that what the concept ultimately contains is a view of those aspects of human life which are unsociable – or socially indomitable – and that could only be made to seem ‘natural’ through an intensive process of intellectual construction. In this sense, the state of nature should not be understood as pre-existing the emergence of the socio-cultural ties that underlie its moral discourse; rather, it is the product of a historical event and of a particular intellectual production, which emerges in and through the colonial encounter. By placing the self and the other in different stages of a linear temporality, this foundational myth allowed Europe to see itself at the peak of human civilization, as the cradle of humanity, and to occupy a position from where it could establish a range of hierarchies. In an attempt to explain the displacement of humanity from one stage of development to another, European intellectuals justified and naturalized the particular European pattern of development – whose pillars go back to the construction of the state, private property and money ( JAHN, 1999 , p. 423).

Established since the colonial encounter, this intellectual history is informed by a teleological historicism that claims that all societies should go through necessary and successive stages of development. According to Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000) , since the end point of such a historical trajectory has rested on Europe, the academic reproduction of this developmentalist imaginary through particular kinds of policies works to naturalize Europe as the primary locus of capitalism, modernity and the Enlightenment – thus placing the rest of the world always one step behind this supposed ‘first’ experience. In fact, it is impossible to think about ‘political modernity’ – that is, modern state institutions, bureaucracy, and capitalist enterprise – without invoking certain categories and concepts, without using genealogies deeply rooted in the European intellectual traditions.

A certain ‘inequality of ignorance’ ( CHAKRABARTY, 2000 , p. 28), marked by the lack of attempts to produce historical knowledge by societies beyond Europe, has supported the creation of universalist theories that presume to embrace the whole of humanity. Considering these societies as objects, rather than subjects of knowledge – empirical constructs to be captured by mainstream theories – these teleological narratives have been offered as ways to overcome the intermediary phase of transition from underdevelopment to (European-like) development. The reproduction of this narrative of transition has led to the subalternization of knowledges produced by less developed countries and, consequently, to the consolidation of the idea that European thought is universal, transcendental and resilient.

Looking at such differences separating the histories produced in Europe and those produced elsewhere, Chakrabarty (2000) argues for ‘provincializing’ Europe, by treating it as a region like any other, withdrawing its unique position, and problematizing the ‘universal’ character of its philosophical traditions ( CHAKRABARTY, 2000 , p. XIII). Once Europe can be seen as one possible – but not exclusive – expression of modernity, there is room to account for the existence of alternative modernities that are not subsidiary to imperialism, but actively constructed by the Third World itself ( CHAKRABARTY, 2000 , p. 43). According to this notion, European modernity cannot be thought of as ‘the prototype’ for development, being spatiotemporally situated in Enlightenment Europe. But neither can it be dispensed with, since its traces remain latent in Western theories, making any attempt to fully escape this already-inhabited modernity futile.

This genealogical separation imposed between modernity and colonialism has, in turn, enabled the rise of doctrines of social progress and modernization theories, which, as Ashis Nandy (1989) has argued, creates homologies between masculine/feminine, primitivism/childhood and growth/development. Developmental policies are often concerned with protecting their recipients by ensuring that they are viewed as a ‘tabula rasa’, on which the moral codes of modern, developed white-male adults, responsible for the ‘salvation’ of primitive societies and their backwards conditions, can be inscribed. Through the institutionalization and sharing of these codes and values, colonization materialized not only as political domination, but affected ‘underdeveloped’ societies’ entire ways of knowing and acting. After all, Nandy (1989) argues, colonialism is characterized foremost as a ‘mental state’ , the effect of a cultural transformation that does not end with political liberation from colonial rule. In fact, the colonial system worked on the basis of economic and psychological punishment and rewards, of having its cognitive categories and social norms accepted, albeit at times unconsciously ( NANDY, 1989 , p. 03).

In formulating a new temporal conception of history, European intellectuals re-situated the colonized peoples, their histories and cultures, establishing an association between colonial ethnocentrism and universal racial classification, which was “expressed through a mental operation of fundamental importance for the entire model of global power, but above all with respect to the intersubjective relations that were hegemonic, and especially for its perspective on knowledge” ( QUIJANO, 2000 , p. 541). In this sense, Aníbal Quijano states that “the idea of race, in its modern meaning, does not have a known history before the colonization of America” (QUIJANO, 2000, p. 534). Once social relations came to be structured by relations of domination, identities were constructed alongside its ascribed hierarchies, places and social roles. Thus, the color-coding of individuals according to their phenotypic traits, race and racial identity served as a means for socially classifying the colonized population – thus becoming a mental category of modernity.

If, on the one hand, the coding of differences through race made it possible to biologically allocate a ‘natural’ stage of inferiority to the colonized, on the other, race was authorized by biological-scientific discourse to structure the entire system of domination required by colonization. The kind of social ranking enabled by the new structure of power in the Americas – which was later expanded throughout the world – allowed for articulating the ethnic-racial hierarchy with the international division of labor, so that “all forms of control and exploitation of labor and production, as well as the control of appropriation and distribution of products, revolved around the capital-salary relation and the world market” ( QUIJANO, 2000 , p. 535). New historical and social identities were produced and combined with a racist distribution of labor and exploitation of colonial capitalism. According to Quijano (2000) , this configuration was achieved “through a quasi-exclusive association of whiteness with wages and, of course, with the high-order positions in the colonial administration. Thus each form of labor control was associated with a particular race” ( QUIJANO, 2000 , p. 537). Like Quijano (2000) , Mbembe (2018) also views colonialism, racism and capitalism as emerging together. The Cameroonian author argues that the plantation system, sustained by the enslavement of black bodies, made possible colonial accumulation and the emergence of capitalism. For him, the transnationalization of the subontological condition of the blacks, captured and trafficked from Africa via the Atlantic, is a constitutive moment of modernity (see PELBART, 2018 ). Both for Quijano (2000) and Mbembe (2018) , European development and the emergence of modernity depended on colonial territories and on bodies subalternized and left devoid of humanity by colonialism.

Contributing to this everyday (re)production of colonial alterity by modernity, development policies enabled the constant classification of modernity as exclusively European, and of colonialism as exclusively Third Worldist. Once colonization is understood as a ‘necessary evil’ for societies to achieve maturity, development can analogously be seen as fundamental for making them more ethical, productive and rational. However, as highlighted by Jahn (1999) , Chakrabarty (2000) , Nandy (1989) , Quijano (2000) and Mbembe (2018) , modernity and colonialism operate simultaneously, being part and parcel of the creation of a European imaginary that shapes the entire geopolitics of knowledge, allowing for an ethnocentric epistemological colonization ( MIGNOLO, 2003 ).

Offering little room for the agency of the ‘Third World’ within modernity, and different to the perspective proposed here, Arturo Escobar (1995) problematizes the hegemonic idea of development by conceiving it as mechanism of knowledge/power that “has created an extremely efficient apparatus for producing knowledge about, and the exercise of power over, the Third World” ( ESCOBAR, 1995 , p. 09). The discourse of development that emerged after the Second World War is understood by Escobar (1995) as a colonial discourse, a strategy produced by so-called ‘First World’ countries to maintain control over ‘Third World’ countries, self-represented as unable to manage their own lives without the modern technical and scientific knowledge provided by ‘developed’ countries. To William Easterly (2007) , in the aftermath of the Second World War, the West exchanged the old racist language by a new grammar according to which ‘uncivilized’ became ‘underdeveloped’; ‘savage peoples’ became the ‘third world’ and the West’s mission to transform backward peoples – ‘the Rest’ – became ‘foreign aid’. The coloniality of knowledge and power thus leads “to the idea that [the problems that afflict us] must be overcome by more modernization, forgetting that to modernize is to colonize” ( GONÇALVES, 2006 , p. 141 2 ).

Given that colonialism is a ‘state of mind’, in Nandy’s terms (1989), the subjugation of the ‘Third World’ through development is effected not only in the asymmetric relations between North and South but also among the countries of the South themselves, insofar as they are influenced by a linear and Eurocentric imaginary, which allows some to be recognized as more developed than others. In this way, the internalization of the effects of colonization on individual, local, cultural, linguistic and political practices also extends to South-South relations.

Although one cannot escape already-inhabited modernity, the ambivalence of developmental narratives, as emphasized by Ilan Kapoor (2008) , offers openings for alternative narratives, thus conferring the possibility of agency and resistance. Even if ‘Third World’ countries present alternative policies to the traditional Western model, North-South and South-South cooperation should not be seen as antagonistic; rather, they are overlaid, hybrid projections that resemble each other, producing consensus, but also differing from one another – after all, domination and internalization are never complete, leaving a space for the production of dissident meanings and understandings.

Daniel Balaban, former Brazilian Director of the World Food Program’s Center of Excellence Against Hunger, characterized Brazil as a ‘teenager’, when compared to poor countries ( FERNÁNDEZ and GAMA, 2016 ). Brazil does not understand itself as a developed country, but neither can it be classified as a major recipient of international aid, as emphasized by Balaban ( SSC, 2014 ). Together with the perception that “for every African problem there is a Brazilian solution” ( AMORIM, 2016 ), the image of a ‘teenage’ country builds upon the idea that Brazil has not only suffered, but also overcome many of the problems that plague Africa today. In this way, there is a projection of a country that is halfway between the African countries and the traditional powers, such as the United States and Europe.

This notion of a teenage country also suggests a kind of ‘Peter Pan syndrome’ in which Brazil avoids presenting itself as completely mature and autonomous. According to Milani, Pinheiro and Lima (2017) , Brazil experiences in its foreign policy choices and performances a ‘graduation dilemma’ in which

...decision-makers have the opportunity to choose and the intention of choosing between different international strategies: between a more autonomous type of development or a more dependent one; in security terms, between bandwagoning and balancing; when building a multilateral policy, between traditional alliances and innovative, flexible coalitions; in geopolitical terms and in the field of development cooperation, between an emphasis on North–South or an emphasis on South–South relations ( MILANI, PINHEIRO and LIMA, 2017 , p. 585).

Based on exogenous criteria defined by Western organizations such as the World Bank, the graduation of a country means a change in its economic status. To Milani, Pinheiro and Lima (2017) , emerging nations, like Brazil, fear and seek to avoid reaching this level, since once they have ‘graduated’ they lose a range of rights and benefits. According to the authors, the concept of graduation simplifies the heterogeneity of countries since in all the different framings of graduation “there is a sense of purpose and direction to human progress, and an idea of expansion, improvement and development which is associated with an individual agent, be it a human being, a local community, a region or a nation-state” ( Milani, Pinheiro and Lima, 2017 , p. 590). Thus this notion of ‘graduation’, as problematized by the authors, is in line with the Western development imaginary informed by a linear understanding of history, “as though once a country has graduated it is at no risk of losing its economic capacity and power projection resources again” ( MILANI, PINHEIRO and LIMA, 2017 , p. 591).

The embrace of the African Other in the very constitution of Brazilian identity has allowed Africa to be seen as sharing a cultural existence that is valued by Brazil. By engaging in such a strategy of representation, Brazil also reveals the ambiguities that permeate its place in the great chain of modernization theories, and its own ambivalent condition as an emerging power from the South ( FERNÁNDEZ and GAMA, 2016 , p. 73). Therefore, “instead of adopting the colonial strategy of establishing a well-demarcated frontier between self and other, Brazil recognizes its liminal condition and the presence of internal/African others in its self” ( FERNÁNDEZ and GAMA, 2016 , p. 72).

However, as will be argued in the following pages, by accepting this projection of a ‘teenage’ country, Brazil ends up reproducing the European narratives and highlighting a supposed immaturity of African societies. After all, the modern idea of childhood – understood as a ‘tabula rasa’ where adults inscribe their moral codes – has a direct relationship with the doctrine of progress prevailing in the West. According to Nandy (1989) , the modern conception of childhood as an inferior, less productive and less ethical version of maturity, authorizes the adult (or in this case, the adolescent) to ‘save’ the child by socializing it. In fact, for Letícia Cesarino (2012) , Brazil has rearranged the theory of modernization in a double movement. On the one hand, it reproduces its teleological grammar by assuming that the path taken by a more developed part of the periphery (Brazil) can somehow inform the path of a less developed one (Africa). On the other hand, Brazil, as seen in its cooperation with Angola, claims to have historically accumulated forms of knowledge capable of offering alternative solutions, which are better than those offered by the traditional powers. In this sense, the following section will address Brazil’s attempt to renegotiate its own development and subalternity, emphasizing how its narrative is based on ambivalences and contradictions characteristic of its postcolonial experience.

Renegotiating Brazilian subalternity in south-south cooperation with Africa

Recent international development cooperation policies undertaken by Brazil, specifically in Africa, can be read through narratives of Brazilian state construction since Portuguese colonization. Of particular importance here are those narratives that articulate the notion of an ambivalent and ‘in-between’ country ( FERNÁNDEZ and GAMA, 2016 ) that in its own historical process of development and miscegenation, reconciles in diverse and fragile ways, the traditional and the modern; the colonial and the metropolitan; the rural and the urban; a past of backwardness and a future of progress. This particular process of identity construction defines not only the image of an ambivalent, divided, and therefore plural Brazil, but also indicates the way in which Brazil negotiates its integration into the liberal ‘civilized’ world; into the linear movement offered by modernization theories.

The coexistence of two ‘Brazils’ ( CESARINO, 2012 ; SANTOS, 2002 ) within Brazilian intellectual thought not only helped to identify obstacles to Brazilian modernization, but also to disturb the very foundations on which modernity was conceived in the peripheries. In this sense, the Brazilian literature on the creation of the nation-state “paved the way for rendering problematic, always in an ambivalent fashion, the very epistemologies of central ideologies and institutions – thus presaging future postcolonial moves” ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 91), as seen in current discourses and representations about Brazilian cooperation with Africa. However, for Cesarino (2012) , interpretations of the construction of modern Brazil mostly end up favoring modernizing elitist projects that, even when recognizing the plurality (and contradiction) of temporalities and spaces that coexist within the Brazilian nation, do not allow meaning and subjectivity to be attributed to the subaltern. In this author’s reading – which performs a postcolonial critique that makes room for subalternity – modern Brazil is constantly interpreted through efforts to manage and/or eliminate the contradictions, ambiguities and indeterminacies of the Brazilian self. By contrast, it is important to emphasize here the existence of alternative readings of Brazil, especially those formulated within so-called ‘Brazilian Social Thought’ 3 , which, unlike Cesarino’s (2012) , understands the production of Brazilian identity through the incorporation of traditional and modern characteristics that are not only conflictive but also dynamic and productive. This reading assumes that ambiguity itself generates new conditions of possibility, new signs and new arrangements, in which subalternity can be constantly (re)negotiated.

In any case, the reading of Brazilian modernity proposed by Cesarino (2012) is relevant to the present article insofar as it allows for discussion of what Boaventura de Souza Santos (2002) identifies as an ambiguity inherent in the processes of self-representation of the Portuguese-speaking countries. For Santos (2002) , the ambiguity in the identity of these states is derived from Portugal’s peripheral condition; from its hybrid national construction – which is expressed in a fragmented identity; and from its subaltern colonialism (vis-à-vis British colonialism), based on a colonial rather than capitalist enterprise ( SANTOS, 2002 ). These characteristics, which for Santos (2002) make Portuguese colonialism unique, deeply impacted configurations of social, political and cultural power both in Portugal and in its colonies. Thus, in his reading,

Portuguese colonialism, featuring a semiperipheral country, was also semiperipheral itself. It was, in other words, a subaltern colonialism. Portuguese colonialism was the result both of a deficit of colonization – Portugal’s incapacity to colonize efficiently – and an excess of colonization – the fact that the Portuguese colonies were submitted to a double colonization: Portugal’s colonization and, indirectly, the colonization of the core countries (particularly England) of which Portugal was a dependent (often in a near colonial way) ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 10).

In characterizing the identity of the Portuguese colonizer as ‘doubly double’, Santos argues that “[it] does not simply include the identity of the colonized other” (SANTOS, 2002, p. 17). This means that Portuguese identity was itself colonized as a colonizer of another ( SANTOS, 2002 ); the double ambivalence of its representations affected and continues to affect not only its own identity as colonizer, but also the identities of its colonized subjects ( SANTOS, 2002 ). Additionally, the ambivalence of Portuguese identity and Luso-colonialism finds its expression, according to Santos (2002) , in the form of its racism. To claim that miscegenation was a Portuguese humanist triumph was a long-standing strategy for locating Portugal uncomfortably inside European space-time. Santos (2002) argues, however, that since miscegenation was loathed by the other European colonial powers, Portuguese culture came to be constituted as a heterogeneous “borderland culture” ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 10), allowing it to move from civilization (from the stereotyped Prospero) to savagery (to Caliban), thus confusing the definitions of tradition and modernity. Hence, if racialization promoted a hierarchized world system through the articulation of ethnic-racial definitions with the international division of labor, the “cafrealized Portuguese” ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 25) – who dissociated themselves from their culture to live in the colonies, adopting local lifestyles – were repeatedly disqualified, estranged and ranked in the global semi-periphery, rejecting their own European origins.

This perspective on Portuguese hybridity is also linked, according to Santos (2002) , to the very fragility of the institutional colonial authority exercised by Portugal, especially in African territories. Until the nineteenth century, “the Portuguese had to negotiate everything, not only trade but also survival itself. The Portuguese ‘colonizer’ was often in the situation of having to pay allegiance to the local king” ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 26). The colonial state oftentimes ignored or delayed the implementation of laws dispatched from Lisbon, justifying non-compliance according to the changing context.

It is important to note, however, that Santos’ argument (2002) reveals a latent tension: even if the ambiguities of Portuguese identity impacted the colonies, it was not unique in the ways it manifested. After all, the complicity between metropolitan and colonial political classes was a fundamental reality of ‘all’ colonial experiences. In this sense, this ‘undecidable’ dimension of colonization is not exclusive to Portugal: English colonization itself was profoundly ambiguous and, above all, psychologically intimate ( NANDY, 1989 ). Thus, it must be emphasized that Portuguese colonization was as cruel as any colonial enterprise: it reinforced the homologization between masculine/feminine, primitivism/childhood and growth/development. To the extent that colonization also affects the colonizer, ‘undecidability’ becomes a common denominator of all processes of representation; it becomes part of the construction of the self as always fractured, ambiguous and hybrid ( BHABHA, 1994 ). This is precisely what allows for agency and resistance to irrupt in the independence movements.

Despite the short duration of its colonial hegemony in the sixteenth century, the representations and systems of signs inscribed by Portuguese colonization lasted so long that they eventually gave rise to stereotypes and myths “that reciprocally reinforce and cancel each other” ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 24). In the Brazilian case, for example, Santos (2002) indicates that the duplicity established in the representation of Portuguese identity caused a fracture that still divides Brazilians between two myths of origin about their development: one concerning the excess of the past (of backwardness), and the other, the excess of future (of the promise of the future) ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 19).

Following this interpretative framework, Brazil itself has played the role of a “colonizing colony” ( SANTOS, 2002 , p. 34), supplying Angola with large contingents of white immigrants and creating a strong economic dependency between the two colonies. If, on the one hand, the organizational fragility of Portuguese colonization prevented strong expressions of neocolonialism, on the other hand, it facilitated the internal reproduction of colonial relations even after the end of formal colonization. Implicit in Santos’ contributions (2002) is the claim that the crucial difference in the reproduction of such relations was slavery – the structuring institution of Portuguese colonization. The institutionalization of slavery is therefore the true “Iberian heritage” left by Portugal to its colonies, since it was “the institution commanding everyone’s lives, including those free men who were neither masters nor slaves” ( SOUZA, 2015 , p. 41 4 ).

By including Africans, alongside Amerindians and Portuguese, since the beginning of the twentieth century as mirrors of Brazilian historical experience, the narratives of Brazilian national construction have consolidated the image of a miscegenated society, with no segregation or racism ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 99). From the fantasy of a ‘lusotropical civilization’, Cesarino (2012) shows, Brazilian foreign policy decision makers were able to claim that similar characteristics connected the Brazilian colonial experience to those of other Portuguese colonies ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 100).

As Western imperial domination was built around practices considered rational, and Latin America and Africa became peripheral supposedly as a result of their emotional nature, South-South relations were structured, according to Cesarino (2012) , through an emphasis on more subjective spheres of human interaction – such as religion and culture. Such a discursive and practical framework underpinned the Brazilian government’s adoption of a discourse of similarities with Africa, emphasizing the exchange of historical and cultural experiences ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 102). At the same time, this narrative about similarities goes beyond the social domain to even encompass geography as a central element. An example of this can be found in statements by the Itamaraty (MRE) claiming that the Brazilian and West African coasts have a perfect fit, as in a puzzle, united ‘as they once were’ before the existence of the Atlantic Ocean. This discourse came to justify the application of Brazilian agricultural technologies to sub-Saharan Africa, due to their sharing the same tropical geoclimatic conditions ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 103).

In this context, Brazilian superiority in relation to both traditional and emerging donors was justified by a further, temporal dimension: if Brazil and Africa can generate a potentially promising cooperation partnership, it is because Brazil, as a developing, tropical country, has already suffered and overcome many of the problems plaguing African nations today. This would, therefore, lead to a “rearrangement” of the developmentalist temporality of modernity ( CESARINO, 2012 , p. 105), which improves Brazil’s position in it.

While Cesarino (2012) emphasizes the influence of a Brazilian ‘lusotropical’ civilizing mission on cooperation policies, André Cicalo (2012) relativizes this argument by affirming the discontinuity of such narrative. According to Cicalo (2012) , the discourses on the existence of a common cultural heritage between the two continents, coupled with a notion of ‘Brazilian Africanness’, have been less and less based on the idea of national miscegenation and racial harmony in Brazil. In fact, in its efforts to address the controversial ambiguities of Brazilian ‘racial democracy’ during the 2000s, Itamaraty for the first time brought discourses of historical racial inequality to the foreground. Although aspects of the culturalist discourse still persist, especially when Africa is portrayed as “one of the cradles of Brazilian civilization” ( CICALO, 2012 , p. 10), Cicalo (2012) argues that new nuances are strategically projected in Brazilian international politics. Ever since the Cardoso administration, but particularly with the intensification of SSC during Lula’s administration, we can see the first manifestations of this new representation, such as in former president Lula’s official declaration that Brazil had a ‘historic debt’ to honor with Africa, due to its history of slavery.

Although cultural/racial mixture and the ‘morena’ category have traditionally been considered representative of Brazil’s national identity, Cicalo (2012) argues that the country has been increasingly voicing its blackness, both nationally and internationally. According to the author, this occurred precisely at a historical juncture in which affirmative action programs and policies began to produce results in Brazil, processes that were somewhat consistent with the expansion of its geopolitical and economic interests in Africa through SSC ( CICALO, 2012 , p. 01). For Cicalo (2012) , this represented a departure from previous diplomatic approaches that avoided the ‘problematic’ topic of slavery when promoting Brazil-Africa relations. Even if only symbolic, the act of ‘apologizing’ to Africa embodied an unprecedented moment in the history of relations between the two continents. For Cicalo (2012) , the aim behind the shift from the ‘civilizing’ discourse of democracy and racial harmony of the 1960 and 1970s, to the narrative of historical debt, was to officially strengthen relations on bases of relative equality and reciprocity. At least in Itamaraty’s discourse, Brazil appears less like a “bridge between the poor of the South” and the “civilized rich of the North”, and more as a “partner” who, together with Africa, can build a fairer path to development ( CICALO, 2012 , p. 11). In this perspective, Brazil came to reaffirm its identity as part of the ‘global South’, especially by breaking with an interventionist/imperialist imaginary.

These different interpretations by Cesarino (2012) and Cicalo (2012) about the narratives supporting SSC should not be read as the result of a discursive change merely adopted in order to legitimize Brazil’s strategic actions, guided by previous, well-defined interests. Considering that discursive articulations are not superficial rhetorical constructions behind which real explanations or causes lie, the authors’ interpretations must be conceived, instead, as expressions of the very ambivalence of the Brazilian self and its situated post-colonialism. In this case, one cannot choose between one narrative or the other – ‘lusotropical fantasy’ or ‘historical debt to Africa’ – but only to accept the very undecidability of the identity of Brazil and its ‘Others’.

The multiple ambiguities addressed in this section allowed us to expose the ambivalent condition of Brazil as an emerging power in the South. Operating in a position of liminality between a developed and a developing world, Brazil reproduces its hybrid and ambivalent identity through South-South cooperation with Lusophone African countries. As we shall see in the case of Angola, this made it possible, on the one hand, to renegotiate hierarchies and inequalities, especially through a form of cooperation that points to experiences and lessons to be shared (rather than taught), and for the joining together (not vertical application) of efforts and capacities. On the other hand, the very ambivalences that constitute Brazil’s developmentalist and modernizing narratives create conditions for the (re)production of new forms of dependence and exclusion.

Mirror games: an analysis of the narrative of Brazilian cooperation in Angola

And one day a Brazilian journalist, not necessarily very well informed, asked: “Minister, why do you pay so much attention to South America?” (...). I said: “Because I live here. If I lived elsewhere, if I lived in Europe, perhaps I would pay more attention to Europe, but I am here in South America, I live here in South America”. And I think that, about Africa, we can say, by making an exchange: Africa lives here. So the main reason for Brazil to pay attention to Africa – there are many others: economic, strategic, political – but this is the main one: Africa lives in Brazil. It lives in us ( MARCONDES and KHALIL, 2015 , p. 17) 5.

The Portuguese-Speaking African Countries (PALOP, in the Portuguese acronym) are at the forefront of Brazilian cooperation, accounting for 55% of the volume of resources allocated to technical cooperation projects with Africa in 2010 ( ABC, 2010 , p. 08). The following triennium, from 2011 to 2013, again saw substantive spending on African countries, reaching around R$ 9.2 million ( IPEA, 2016 , p. 33). Among the countries that benefit from these projects are: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Cultural and economic links between these countries had intensified after the creation of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in Lisbon, in July 1996 6 . Since then, cooperation with CPLP African countries has increased – especially through public and private partnerships and the relief and renegotiation of their debts with Brazil ( SARAIVA, 2012 , p. 109) 7 .

Relations with African countries have intensified through policies like the Program of Integration with Africa, which aimed to deepen Brazil’s historical relations with the African continent 8 . As well as increasing economic relations between Brazil and Africa, the Program, established in 2008, seeks greater equilibrium in the active balance of trade of micro and small enterprises, and the development of technical cooperation, through the training of African entrepreneurs and workers by Brazilian institutions and programs 9 .

Discourses surrounding Brazil’s South-South cooperation with Africa oftentimes build an image of Brazil as a ‘friend for development’; as a country that, driven “(...) by a desire for full reconciliation with its own history and a deeper engagement with its South Atlantic neighborhood (...) wants to participate in the transformation and rebirth of Africa”( PATRIOTA, 2013 , pp. 237-245) 10 . Such notions have legitimized a set of investments, especially in areas in which Brazil possesses experience. According to former Foreign Minister Antônio Patriota (2013) , in an event to commemorate Africa Day, in May 2011,

We have invested in a broad program of technical cooperation aimed at sharing experiences that have been successful in Brazil. One of the emphases has been agriculture, reflecting the perception of the existence of great potential in this area, and the wide knowledge acquired in Brazil, in overcoming agricultural challenges through applied research. The concern for health is also the result of the interest in designing, on African soil, success stories identified among Brazilian public policies, such as actions to combat HIV/AIDS and falciform anemia ( PATRIOTA, 2013 , pp. 237-245).

If Patriota’s speech (2013) reinforces, on the one hand, Brazil’s objective interest in internationalizing successful public policies, on the other hand, the former Minister is also emphatic in affirming that “(...) the real engines of the movement that approaches Brazil and Africa (...)” are the “(...) entities promoting racial equality and valuing black culture (...)”. For him, the approach to the African continent express broader and more diffuse desires of Brazilian society which, for him, “(...) are independent from foreign policy considerations (...)”( PATRIOTA, 2013 , pp. 237-245). Although this combination of ideas constitutes a potentially contradictory discourse, it is precisely such discursive ambiguity that legitimizes Brazil’s particular position as ‘having knowledge’ of the multiple problems experienced by Africa. Thus, it is in the simultaneous affirmation of a situated postcolonial condition, and of relative success in overcoming barriers to development, that the narrative of Brazilian cooperation with Africa constantly re-actualizes the idea of two ‘Brazils’. While one, belonging to the past, shares with Africa a cultural history of colonization; another, oriented towards the future and progress, is expressed in Brazil’s capacity to overcome challenges that remain urgent elsewhere, and whose expertise could be mobilized to help its African ‘friend’.

Having been the first country to recognize its independence, Brazil has maintained relations with Angola since 1975. Since then, the Brazilian government has demonstrated a strong capacity to diversify its operations in the country, coordinating investment, financing and cooperation. Brazilian activity in Angola has particularly been boosted since the establishment of a ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2010, which advanced common objectives in the areas of 01. political, diplomatic, public security and defense cooperation; 02. economic, financial, commercial and development cooperation; 03. technical, scientific and technological, socio-cultural and educational cooperation.

While the central part of the text consolidating the 2010 Strategic Partnership specifies the areas in which bilateral and international positions are expected to converge, the preamble emphasizes the shared values to be defended by Brazil and Angola at the regional and international levels – such as the promotion of democratic rights and freedoms – and of the plural, multiethnic and culturally diverse character of both countries. While this discourse emphasizes the existence of common denominators among cooperating countries, it also reveals the tensions of a lusotropical narrative, which reduces African states and their societies to a single ‘Africa’, the mirror image of Brazil. In fact, the first line of the joint declaration establishing the Partnership states: (...) considering the single patrimony of more than 500 years of history, culture and common blood ties, and the strong and sustained development of relations between the Federative Republic of Brazil (hereinafter referred to as Brazil ) and the Republic of Angola (hereinafter referred to as Angola ) 11 .

The ‘mirror’ discourse produced by Brazil in its cooperation projects with Angola reaches beyond the notion of cultural similarities to exalt the topographical and environmental similarities that make Brazil a appropriate partner. This can be seen, for example, in the speech by the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who, in celebrating a new cooperation agreement for food security with Angola, passed on a message from former President Lula to the President of Angola, stating that “The similarity between Africa’s Savanna and the Brazilian Cerrado presents tremendous potential for EMBRAPA’s intervention in the African continent. Brazil would like to help Angola in diversifying and realizing its immense economic and agricultural potential and securing its food self-sovereignty” ( FAO, 2014 ).

Along the same lines, Laurent Thomas, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, said that “Brazil has much to offer in terms of proven technical know-how and this agreement is an important milestone in South-South Cooperation between the two countries. We believe it is a model that we hope will be followed by other countries of the global South” ( FAO, 2014 ). Thus, if, on the one hand, the discourses of similarities articulated by Brazilian diplomats promote the advantages offered by Brazil vis-à-vis traditional donors, on the other, their reproduction by FAO directors themselves shows they were also internalized by partners of the Brazilian government. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the position of then FAO Director-General, José Graziano, who highlights the fact that the organization faces difficulties in meeting demand for helping to implement programs similar to Brazil’s Fome Zero (Zero Hunger). Graziano states that “We have learned in recent years that there is a relatively effective set of policies to combat hunger. And on top of them is Zero Hunger. Today, we are unable to meet the demand from countries in Africa, Asia and even Europe to implement Zero Hunger” ( INSTITUTO LULA, 2015 ).

If, on the one hand, Brazilian diplomacy has been able to affirm its knowledge of African challenges and of its ‘initial’ stages of development based on its own national experiences; on the other hand, the discourse of experience not only confers political authority and legitimacy on the Brazilian government, but also places Brazil in an intermediary position on the path to modernity. As a consequence, its intermediate or ‘teenage’ role has come to be recognized by its partners. As a case in point, during the seminar ‘The Experience in the Fight against Hunger and Poverty in Brazil and Angola’, Angolan Trade Minister and national coordinator of the Program to Fight against Hunger and Poverty, Rosa Pacavira, declared to former President Lula, that “we adapt the [social] programs to our local realities. We are here to listen to what Brazil has to say about its own experience. We started four years ago, you started earlier, so I wanted to hear from you” 12 .

Brazil’s claim to understand Africa’s needs is often articulated alongside another narrative that stresses the combination of public and private interests in the establishment of partnerships with African countries. In the case of Angola, as emphasized in the 2010 ‘Strategic Partnership’, there is an expectation of active participation by the private sector in the development of trade between the two countries and the promotion of business cooperation with public entities in the areas of infrastructure and transport, and even in the development of projects in the areas of agriculture; forests and fisheries; telecommunications and information technologies; oil; energy and water; mining and public works; and food security; among others. The presence of Brazilian companies has grown in diverse sectors of the Angolan economy. The implementation of governmental projects has been achieved through collaboration between Odebrecht, Petrobrás and Furnas 13,14 – not only through financing, but also through barter trades. The barter trade mechanism is used to operationalize the supply of credit and the export of goods and services to Angola. The Brazilian government also relied on the support of the banking sector, in particular the services of the National Development Bank, BNDES, (which since 2003 has financed the international operations of Brazilian companies), Caixa Econômica Federal (which provides housing loans), Banco do Brasil and Banco Bradesco 15 .

In a press statement, in June 2014, during a bilateral meeting with the President of Angola, President Dilma Rousseff stated that

(...) Brazil wants to continue supporting and participating in Angolan industrial development. We agree that the current business approach has already paid off. Here in Brazil, the Angolan Sonangol Starfish is the sixth oil producer. The airline Taag operates daily flights between São Paulo, Rio and Luanda. Several Brazilian companies are active in the expansion of infrastructure, both in Angola’s road and energy infrastructure. Among them are Odebrecht, the country’s largest private employer, Biocon, Petrobrás, Camargo Corrêa, Queiroz Galvão and Andrade Gutierrez. We emphasize the role of the BNDES in the concession of credits to exports of Brazilian goods and services to Angola, which were renewed this month. (…) We also instruct our governments to conclude bilateral reciprocal investment facilitation agreements. We want to highlight the progress of our defense cooperation. The National Air Force of Angola acquired, in 2009, six Super Tucanos aircrafts, which have been already delivered. The Ministry of Defense has collaborated to build the Angolan continental platform. I have expressed Brazilian interest in forming new partnerships in the naval industry, with local production and technology transfer. We welcome the continuity of our educational cooperation, which we consider of immense relevance to both Brazil and Angola16.

As seen in the president’s address, by operating through demand-driven diplomacy 17 Brazil’s SSC discourse exposes the ambiguities and tensions that permeate its development efforts. Brazil’s situated post-colonialism allowed for the constitution of a development model based on the state’s alliance with elite private interests, marked by attempts to reconcile its slaveholding heritage with Western liberal ideology. Thus, the desire to promote technical cooperation that allows more inclusive development for African countries coexists with the diverse political and economic interests of business elites that see internationalization as allowing them to pursue the project of constructing the ‘Brazil of the future’. In this sense, Brazilian cooperation policies are themselves constitutive of this aporia: they reflect the impossibility of carrying out a single and well-defined strategic action, since the actors involved and interests at stake in the formulation and implementation of public policies are always multiple, variable, and contested. Moreover, the success of the Brazilian narrative is not only the result of Brazil supposedly offering a model with fewer conditionalities and, consequently, greater material gains, but also because the reaffirmation of a cultural and ideological proximity between the two countries allows for Angolan decision-makers to feel recognized and represented in Brazil’s cooperation discourse – even if the latter projects the desires and aspirations of certain business elites at the same time.

The Agreement on Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments (ACFI) established by Brazil and Angola in 2015 seeks to “leverage the internationalization of Brazilian companies by providing greater security for investors in the signatory countries (...)”and also “(...) to boost the negotiation of the model of agreement with other African countries” ( ACFI, 2015 ) 18 . Through this agreement, Brazil’s SSC strategies were, for the first time, ‘legally’ associated with private investments. In a statement, Itamaraty said that ACFI represents “a new kind of agreement, seeking to encourage reciprocal investment through intergovernmental dialogue, and supporting companies in the internationalization process” ( CIFA, 2015 ). According to Garcia (2015) , this agreement consolidates the intertwinement between public and private interests, since “the interests of Brazilian multinationals abroad are represented by the Brazilian government as the ‘national interest’, universalizing the particular interests of these companies” ( GARCIA, 2015 ).

Garcia’s diagnosis (2015) points not only to the intensification of the internationalization of Brazilian private capital in the most diverse sectors of the African economy, but also indicates a development model for the global South which promotes a particular type of indebtedness. Inherent to the policies that guide Brazilian SSC, there is a latent ambiguity which allows Brazil to position itself as both ‘subjugated’ and ‘subjugator’ – even hunted and hunter 19 .

In light of the arguments presented in this article, and of Brazil’s discourses surrounding its SSC with Angola, it is possible to see that Brazil acts simultaneously to destabilize traditional hierarchies and to rearticulate new vertical arrangements in relation to its partners in the South. In this ambivalent and unstable trope, Brazil constantly renegotiates its identity and its subalternity.

Final remarks

This article has sought to expose the tensions and ambivalences that permeate the ‘narratives’ of Brazilian engagement in international cooperation for development. Based on the analysis of discourses and images mobilized by Brazil in relation to Africa, and particularly in relation to South-South Cooperation with Angola, we argued that Brazil seeks to renegotiate its position in modernity. Without questioning the linearity that informs the imaginary of development and, consequently, the hierarchies (tradition/modernity, underdeveloped/developed) derived from the temporal separation of peoples and states, Brazil attempts to re-situate its place in the developmentalist continuum. This repositioning is articulated through a temporal trope that, for instance, discursively constructs Brazil as a ‘teenage’ country, temporally close to an immature Africa, but also not so distant from an adult and rational United States or Europe. In its discourses of cooperation with the African continent, through a dialectical movement, Brazil projects itself as a country that understands and identifies with Africa, that contains Africa within its multicultural and multiethnic identity (as we have seen in relation to Angola), but at the same time, that has surpassed Africa qualitatively, and thus temporally. Brazil overcomes African countries and affirms its authority over them by claiming to have a subaltern knowledge that supposedly enables it to understand local realities and to give voice to the demands of historically marginalized populations (through demand-driven diplomacy).

Even while adopting the teleological narrative of development that, as we have seen, springs from the colonial encounter, Brazil subverts it by resignifying its starting and finishing points. Instead of thinking of the African continent as a pre-social and pre-cultural state of nature, Brazil mirrors itself in Africa, valuing it socially and culturally. On the other hand, Brazil wants to modernize, but through an alternative modernization that is not based upon interventionist and imperialist behavior.

However, far from resolving these tensions in its identity through a harmonious synthesis of races and cultures, as popularized by the idea of racial democracy, Brazil continues to violently treat its internal Others and to hierarchize its two Brazils (one facing the past and the other facing the future). In this sense, the emphasis on Brazil’s debt to Africa, referred to in several foreign policy speeches during the 2000s, cannot be reduced to a debt that is located in a distant past of slavery, but must be thought about as a debt that overflows to the present, and whose actuality, if taken into consideration, brings us closer to the violent and exclusionary colonial imaginary from which we have tried so hard to distance ourselves.

We have shown how many of the ambiguities of Brazilian cooperation discourses mirror the ambivalent colonial experience of Portugal, which, located in a liminal position, peripheral to Europe, projected itself both as colonizer and as colonized (or subaltern) vis-à-vis other colonial experiences. If, as we have seen, Portugal was both Prospero and Caliban, Brazil mirrored and internalized Prospero, who, according to Lusotropicalist narratives, reconciled with and embraced Caliban. However, just as the article has drawn attention to the violent character of Portuguese colonization, challenging the argument of a benevolent and humanist colonization, it also sought to illuminate the contradictions, ambiguities and indeterminacies of Brazil’s cooperation policies. At the same time that these policies are presented as acts of solidarity, horizontality and partnership, based on a mythical reconciliation between Prospero and the African Caliban, they produce hierarchical relations of power and authority that continue to privilege Brazil.

This article has also called attention to the discourses and images produced around the idea of historical similarities between Brazil and its African cooperation partners. Although we did not seek to analyze the empirical and everyday aspects of South-South cooperation policies undertaken by Brazil in Africa, we would like to highlight the more recent literature which, based on a more policy-oriented framework of analysis, challenges the prevalent narratives articulated by Brazilian policymakers to make sense of and legitimize the country’s engagement in the field of international development aid. For instance, this literature has pointed out how these narratives are hardly implemented at the field level. This might be due both to the major differences between the national strategies of the cooperating countries and the difficulties of transferring and translating development goals from one developing country to another ( DURÁN and CHICHAVA, 2017 ; ESTEVES and ASSUNÇÃO, 2017 ; ESTEVES, FONSECA, and GOMES, 2016 ; GARCIA, 2015 ; MILANI, DA CONCEIÇÃO, and M’BUNDE, 2017 ).

Moreover, important contemporary works have also emphasized the specific material conditions that allowed Brazil to intensively engage in SSC in the first decade of the 2000s, and the current contextual constraints to continuing this kind of activity. For Marcondes and Mawdsley (2017) , for instance, the massive expansion of SSC efforts during the 2003-2011 period should be conceived of as an ‘anomaly’ since it mostly depended on President Lula’s intensive use of diplomacy and Brazil’s overseas diplomatic network, supported by favorable domestic and external factors. In this regard, as has been highlighted, despite the political will that helped to expand SSC during the Lula years, it was difficult to sustain, especially in light of the more hostile domestic and international circumstances that followed – including a lack of legislative and institutional reform that should have been put in place to better support SSC engagements. This situation was certainly exacerbated by inter-bureaucratic disagreements and budgetary limitations ( MARCONDES and MAWDSLEY, 2017 , p. 698) that pervaded the administrations of Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer.

In sum, by considering South-South cooperation as a specific locus of production of power and knowledge, this article aims to add another layer of complexity to Brazil’s ambivalent engagement in the field of development. At the same time, by presenting a postcolonial reading of Brazilian narratives on cooperation engagements with African countries, it seeks to encourage other non-mainstream readings of Brazilian foreign policy, including in other domains of state action.


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1For Emma Mawdsley (2012) , the terms 'new', 'emerging' or even 'non-traditional donors' are problematic and ahistorical, portraying co-operation as a recent phenomenon – which is not the case, since many Southern countries that make up the list of donors in the 2000s have been engaged in cooperation initiatives since at least the 1950s. See Mawdsley (2012, p , p. 05).

2Authors’ translation.

3As we find in the works of thinkers like Antonio Candido (1970) , Roberto Schawrz (2014 , 1979 ), Silviano Santiago (1978) , Ricardo Benzaquen de Araújo (1994) , among others.

4Authors’ translation .

5AMORIM, Celso. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (2003-2010) and Defense (2011-2014), in a lecture held in São Paulo, on May 26, 2015, during the 5th Seminar 'Conversations about Africa'. is added, authors’ translation.

6In addition to the six Portuguese-speaking countries mentioned above, the CPLP also brings together East Timor, Portugal and Brazil.

7The policy of relief and renegotiation of approximately US$ 900 million in debts from eleven African countries was undertaken alongside the opening of the market for Brazilian companies known as 'national champions'. Their sales have already exceeded by more than twenty times the amount that was written off in debts for the purchasing countries. According to Itamaraty, this is not a gesture of "Brazilian voluntarism, but a internationally concerted practice, with clear objectives to allow for the debt burden not to become an impediment to economic growth and overcoming poverty". Nonetheless, the expansion of investments by Brazilian companies and commerce more than quadrupled between 2003 and 2013, jumping from US $ 6.1 billion to US $ 28.5 billion. Data provided in a press release by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE). See MRE. Note 96 - Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique and Angola. Brasília, March 26, 2015, and MRE. Press release 08 (Clarification). Debt relief for African countries. August 06, 2013; and also THE RIO TIMES, Brazil to Cancel US $ 900M in African Debt. 04/02/2014. Available at <> . Accessed on August, 2017.

8See MDIC. Programas para Destaque Estratégico. Available at < index.php/sitio/conteudo/index/5>. Accessed on February 2016; and Brazil, Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. Strategic Highlights: Projects and Initiatives - Integration with Africa. MDIC-PDP. May 2008.

9See MDIC.

10Authors’ translation.

11Joint Declaration on the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership between the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Republic of Angola. Available at <> . Accessed on August, 2017. Emphasis added, authors’ translation.

12See INSTITUTO LULA. Lula em Angola: "antes de chegarmos ao governo, 35% da população tinha que ter quase tudo e o resto tinha que ser pobre”. May 7, 2014. Available at <> . Accessed on August 2017. Authors’ translation.

13As the largest private employer in Angola, Odebrecht controls activities ranging from agribusiness and the development of biofuels to the management of a supermarket chain. Petrobras is, in turn, engaged in the exploration of offshore oil fields in the country, and since June 2013 it has been working in a joint venture with BTG Pactual Bank (50%) for US $ 1.5 million for oil and gas exploration in several African nations, including Angola. Also present in the Angolan heavy construction market, we find the companies Andrade Gutierrez (responsible for 18% of the projects on the list), Queiroz Galvão (14%) and Camargo Corrêa (9%). See more in: BBC BRAZIL. Com BNDES e negócios com políticos, Odebrecht ergue 'império' em Angola. 18/09/2013. Disponível em < odebrecht_angola_abre_jf_ac.shtml>. Accessed in February 2016; And, INFOLATAM. Africa: the last frontier of Brazil. 05/21/2013. Available at <> . Accessed on September, 2015.

14Recently, the performance of these companies has also been highlighted in the news. This follows reports of corruption cases involving the two countries, arising from investigations conducted by the Brazilian Federal Police as part of Operation 'Lava-Jato'. Operations involving Petrobras, BTG Pactual and Brazilian contractors have also been investigated by Lava-Jato. The investigation gained notoriety after illicit and promiscuous collusion between government officials and elite businessmen came to light.

15From 2006 to 2012, BNDES offered US$ 3.2 billion in loans to Brazilian companies in Angola. In the same period, its credit lines financed 65 projects, of which 49% were or still are executed by Odebrecht. See Garcia et al (2013, p. 09).

16Press statement by the President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff, on the occasion of the bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos. MRE, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil – Speeches. Brasília, June 16, 2014.

17Demand-driven diplomacy is defined as free of conditionalities and driven by interests defined by the partners. Thus, 'external demand is an indispensable condition for the Brazilian government's involvement'. See IPEA (2013, p , p. 25).

18Other agreements have also been established with countries such as Mozambique, South Africa, Algeria, Malawi, Morocco and Tunisia. See Rage (2015) . New Agreement for Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments (ACFI) between Brazil and Mozambique. April 2nd 2015. Available at <> . Accessed on August, 2017.

19 Garcia et al. (2013) introduce the idea of 'the hunted and the hunter' to demonstrate the duality in the positions engendered by Brazil in its cooperation with Angola and Mozambique.

The authors are grateful for the financing provided for this study by the following Brazilian agencies: Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES); Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq); and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).

Received: June 10, 2018; Accepted: March 03, 2019

Translated by Matthew Taylor

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