João Figueiredo has a PhD in High Studies in History (Empire, politics, and post-colonialism) from the University of Coimbra (2016), a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights from the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra (2006), and a BA Hons in Anthropology from the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra (2005).
His work focuses on Portuguese colonialism in Angola during the long 19th century from a historical and anthropological perspective. He has investigated the interactions between the Portuguese administration and local normative systems, especially the role that the materiality of writing and ethnographic objects played in those entanglements. He has taught and acted as a consultant at the University Jean Piaget Luanda (Angola, 2009) and worked as an anthropologist for the Lamego municipality (2016 - 2018). He has also translated to Portuguese a monograph about Mozambique (2018), and collaborated with the Educational Service of the Douro Museum (2017 - 2019). As an anti-racist scholar and activist, he has collaborated with the NGOs Djass – Association of Afrodescendents and SOS Racismo, contributing to the organization of events concerning the history of enslavement and dependency, critical museology, and the restitution of African objects and human remains. He is a member of the scientific comittee of the Memorial to the Enslaved of Lisbon.
He has presented his research findings at several international conferences and seminars, most recently at the seminar series ‘Slavery, Memory, and African Diasporas’ Howard University (2021); ‘Honors in Curatorship‘, University of Cape Town (2020); and the 63nd Meeting of the African Studies Association, USA (2020). He has written several book chapters and peer-reviewed articles for journals such as South African Historical Journal (H Index 16), Cadernos de Estudos Africanos (H Index 3) or Social Sciences and Missions (H Index 4). Currently he is working on his first monograph and editing a collective volume as major outputs of the project ‘LEGALPL: Legal Pluralism in the Portuguese Empire (18th-20th centuries)‘, funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (2019-2022).
Seeing past Leviathan: Legal Pluralism, Commodity Chains, and Governance in the Making of the Angola – Saint Thomas and Prince Nomoscape (c. 1836 – c. 1878).
‘Seeing past Leviathan’ moves past historical accounts that conceive of legal unity and pluralism as opposing ideological projects. It abandons the interpretative spatial-temporal framework provided by state-formation in Africa to show that the complex and decentred system that connected the Angolan hinterlands with the plantations of Saint Thomas and Prince during abolition (c. 1836 – c. 1878) ought to be understood as a ‘commodity’ chain. Whereas state-centred models frame legal plural settings either as resulting from the existence of remnants of past normative orders, which are still in the process of being standardized, or as evidence of the failure of (post)colonial states, this project proposes that in the case at hand this legal plural setting was purposefully created to extract and distribute unfree workers (libertos) to staff the plantations that had been previously manned by an enslaved workforce. It draws from the work of legal historians and anthropologists who have demonstrated how non-state-centric spatializations have emerged and co-existed with different kinds of territorial state formations (Benton 2010; Braverman et al 2014; Gebeye 2017; Turner 2015). Last, it takes inspiration from the field of supply chain studies (Turner 2016) to advance a new way of understanding how law shaped the different “nomospheres” (Delaney 2010) that linked Angola with Saint Thomas and Prince.
Figueiredo, João, Diamond Desire. Probing the Epistemological Entanglements of Geology and Ethnography at Diamang (Angola), South African Historical Journal 72 (2020), 431-460 (H-Index 15) https://doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2020.1836021.
Figueiredo, João, The Uncanniness of religious encounters in colonial Angola: a brief cultural history of the awkward emotion (18th and 19th centuries), Nordic Journal of African Studies 29 (4) (2020), 2-26 (Open Access) https://www.njas.fi/njas/article/view/570/400.
Figueiredo, João, Heimlich/unheimlich - Outlining the Influence of Spiritan Worldviews in the Work of Angolan Pioneer Photographers José Moraes and Elmano Costa, Social Sciences and Missions 30 (3-4) (2017), 366-387 (H-Index 3) https://brill.com/view/journals/ssm/30/3- 4/article-p366_8.xml.
Figueiredo, João, A questão das ouvidas, ou a disputa entre autoridades civis e militares pelo julgamento de causas gentílicas na Angola de meados do século XIX [The fight for the “Ouvidas:” disputes between civil and military authorities for the right to adjudicate “native claims” in mid-19th century Angola], Cadernos de Estudos Africanos 30 (2015), 81-104 (H-Index 2, Open Access) https://revistas.rcaap.pt/cea/article/view/7966
Figueiredo, João. Feitiçaria na Angola oitocentista: razões por detrás de uma suposta maior tolerância administrativa face a crenças locais [Witchcraft accusations in 19th century Angola: or why colonial authorities tolerated local beliefs], Mneme - Revista de Humanidades 12 (29) (2011), 21-51 (Open Access) https://periodicos.ufrn.br/mneme/article/view/1026.
Figueiredo, João. «Feitiço do Homem Branco»: Ruptura e continuidade na concepção de “feitiço” nos diários de viagem de António Brandão de Mello (1909- 1915) [The white man’s spell:’ innovation and continuity in the way witchcraft was defined in António Brandão de Mello’s travel journals (1909-1915)], Mneme - Revista de Humanidades 10 (26) (2009), 73-90 (Open Access) https://www.periodicos.ufrn.br/mneme/article/view/9.