Brazil’s story is complex and packed with internal and external conflict. The story of slavery in Brazil extends further than other countries in the Americas due to the role that the Dutch and Portuguese had in the exploitation of sugar and precious minerals in the region. By 1533, the colony was governed by 15 different Portuguese courtiers. Like many other American countries, religious groups played a large role in the emancipation of many of the native peoples of the region. In the case of Brazil, it was a conflict between the Jesuits and the colonialists who saw the Brazilian natives as animals.

The importation of slaves takes place after 1549, Jesuits are given control over Christian indigenous people. Nevertheless, colonists were still able to enslave the natives caught during local warfare. This promoted the slave trade during those times to boost the workforce of colonialists. The period from 1550 to 1800, the sugar cane plantations grew considerably and were primarily worked by enslaved people from African countries. Brasil became hugely popular also for the exploitation of precious stones such as gold and diamonds. This second stage of Brazil’s colonial slavery was a mixture of socio-political events such as the unification of Portugal and Spain, known as the Iberian Union, and the expeditions from the colonialist bandeiras who began exploring deeper into the continent looking for gold, giving birth to Brazil’s gold rush and later on diamonds. The final factor was the expelling of the Jesuits after large conflicts between the colonialists and the Portuguese government.

Mining groups played a large role in the emancipation for the enslaved peoples, since despite several failed attempts key players such as Pedro II the son of the unpopular Pedro I, played a large role in opposing the slave trade. While opposing the slave trade, he gained many enemies, thus giving birth to the Brazilian Republic by being overthrown in 1889. Nevertheless, not without declaring the freedom of children born from slaves (1871) and freeing all slaves by 1888.


The graphics for Brazil’s interaction point focused on the landscape and the peoples that lived in such a place. Brazil’s landscape and resources is a recurrent topic where neo-colonial with neoliberal policies tend to keep on exploiting. We wanted to highlight such diversity whilst still showcasing the current local celebrations such as the Carnaval.

Many of the dances and music in Brazil have a deep connection to the African cultures from the countries where enslaved peoples were extracted from. In the evolution of their own identity in the Americas, many enslaved people adopted and expanded their traditions, wherein cases such as Samba, Angolan music and dances were extrapolated into a more European style carnival. This is one of the reasons why we wanted to use the carnival headdress for the iconography.

Sound Track

“Seu” doutor by Eduardo Soto

This soundtrack is from Brazil’s SophiA National Library. It is a carnival march from Brazil’s popular music collection. It is a record from 1929, that showcases diverse music used for marches such as religious processions, among others. This is the 30-second sample used for the interaction point.

‘Seu’ Doctor (© SophiA National Library)

Carnival march music displays such as the Samba, Frevo and Axé have deep roots with Angolan music. When merged with the Portuguese and Spanish history and the indigenous cultures, gives us a very interesting, warm and innovative form of music. That said, percussion instruments also play a big role in these musical pieces.