“In Front of the World”: Translating Beatriz Nascimento

Christen Smith (University of Texas at Austin), Archie Davies (University of Sheffield) and Bethânia Gomes (Independent Scholar, New York)

Beatriz Nascimento (1942-1995) was one of the most creative Latin American thinkers of Black liberation in the 20th century, but until now her work has not been translated into English. Originally from Sergipe in the Northeast of Brazil, Beatriz Nascimento was not only a political thinker, but also a tireless voice in Brazil’s Black Movement, a filmmaker and a poet. In her wide and varied work, she established innovative approaches to Black identity, freedom, space, gender and social life. Her most sustained subject of research were quilombos, settlements of escaped, formerly enslaved people in Brazil.

This short collection of her work in Antipode 53(1) introduces the breadth of her contribution by including a sample of her published scholarly work on quilombos, two poems, and an unpublished, experimental essay. These texts show Beatriz Nascimento writing in different moods and for very different audiences. Our introduction places the writing in the broader context of her writing and practice, and draws out some of the connections between her writing, the history of Black thought in Brazil, and contemporary questions of radical geography.

As a small collective, including Beatriz Nascimento’s only daughter, Bethânia Gomes, we have been working to bring her writing into English, and this publication is the first fruits of that work. We would like to thank Antipode for supporting this project. We hope that this first collection, as the start of a larger effort of translation and editing, will open the way for scholars and activists in the English-speaking world to get to know Beatriz Nascimento, and spark new connections across languages, struggles, spaces and times.

“In Front of the World”: Translating Beatriz Nascimento can be downloaded, free of charge, here. Following Christen Smith, Archie Davies and Bethânia Gomes’ introduction, there are four translations: the essays The Concept of Quilombo and Black Cultural Resistance (1985) and For a (New) Existential and Physical Territory (1992); and the poems Sun and Blue (1990) and Dream (1989).