Central Africa Diaspora to the Americas Project

Co-Directors: Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton (Boston University)

The two main avenues of inquiry for this project include research on “The Kingdom of Kongo in the Wider World, 1400–1800” and “Angola and Its Role in the African Diaspora, 1500–1990.” The first avenue explores the ways in which Kongo’s engagement with the West influenced the development of African American culture in all the Americas. The second large area of focus examines Portuguese colonialism, its relationship to the African Diaspora, and current implications for the Mbundu- and Umbundu- speaking parts of modern-day Angola. This aspect of the project also includes Angola’s most famous queen, Queen Njinga of Matamba, and her legacy in Africa and in the Atlantic world. Recently, the project has expanded to include Central African input into Cuban culture.

In February 2018 a Portuguese edition of Linda M. Heywood’s book, Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen, was published, and in May 2018 Professor Heywood gave a major lecture at the University of Lisbon on Njinga and Memory in the African Diaspora. Also this year, Professor Thornton published an article in the Hispanic American Historical Review titled “The Zambos and the Transformation of the Miskitu Kingdom” and is currently working on a book length history of West Central Africa.