Identity and society

During 1800’s, Montevideo was a required port of call for slave ships bringing Africans to the Río de la Plata. At the time, the national population in what would become Uruguay was estimated at 25% African or Afro-Uruguayan. African slaves prominently participated in the independence wars, often fighting more for their personal freedom and less for ideals of political independence. In the later 19thcentury, they contributed strongly to the making of Uruguayan popular culture when they held public dances for their communities, also known as Candombes. The African percussion instruments and rhythms combined with instruments brought from Europe and the Caribbean merged to create the musical forms we know today as Tango and Candombe. With the restoration of democracy in 1985, the Afro-descendent movements received new impulses and by 2011, an estimated 10% of the population declared itself of “African or black descent.”

There has been considerable interest in recent years on understanding the historical and contemporary roles of Afro-descendants in Uruguay. An important topic is how the discourse on national history and national heroes has silenced the role of Afro-descendants in building the nation. Another area of research looks at the multiple forms of resistance, such as the black press in Latin America from 1870 to 1950. Black journalists and intellectuals contributed to at least 25 black newspapers during this time. Other research has focused on the cultural contributions of Afro-descendants to popular culture in Uruguay. Recently, debates have arisen around the appropriate ways to commemorate the role of Afro-descendants in Uruguayan history.



  • Black and white Uruguay: An introduction to the world of Candombe,Comparsasand Carneval
  • An analysis and evaluation of the affirmative action policies and recent legislative changes in favor of Afro-descendants in Uruguay
  • Understanding black history in Latin America: Sites of memory along the slave route in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay