Debunking Brazilian Exceptionalism in its Africa Relations: Evidence from Angola and Tanzania

Barnaby Dye, Mathias Alencastro

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From 2003, President Lula heralded a new dawn in Brazil’s
expanding African relations. Brazil was claimed to be unlike other
exploitative powers because of its cultural, geographic and
historic connections; Africa’s true brother. Despite the passing of
two decades and a number of scandals, this narrative of
exceptionalism remains. Studies on Brazil–Africa relations tend to
focus on the Brazilian state as the key, essentially benign agent.
Our analysis uses the case studies of Angola and Tanzania to
debunk the idea of Brazilian exceptionalism. We demonstrate the
significant, overlooked agency of corporations in shaping and
implementing Lula’s Africa Policy, and determining its
developmentally dubious outcomes. Additionally, the paper shows
how political elites in Africa directed Brazilian government and
companies into their political and business norms. Thus, Brazil–
Africa relations replicated much of the typical economic patterns
of the continent’s trade, with oft-controversial and corrupt
investment in commodity extraction and infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Society
Early online date2 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Brazil
  • Africa
  • Foreign Policy
  • Emerging Powers
  • Rising Powers

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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