Rosana Paulino and the Art of Refazimento: Reconfigurations of the Black Female Body in the Land of Racial Democracy

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Flavia Santos de Araújo


This essay analyzes the historical and aesthetic significance of the visual art project Assentamento(s) (2012-2013) by Rosana Paulino. Her work re- inscribes the black female body into the historical narrative of Brazil, complicating long-established notions of “Brazilianness”. By using art techniques and materials that combine lithography, digital printing, drawing, sewing, video, and sculpting, Paulino develops a multi-layered artistic assembly that she describes as a process of refazimento (“remaking”). Paulino pushes the boundaries of the historical archives, highlighting both the struggles and agency of black women within Brazilian society. I argue that, as a contemporary black woman visual artist, Paulino engages in a method of historical interpretation that Saidiya Hartman defines as “critical fabulation”. My study explores how Paulino’s refazimento represents a method of inquiry that confronts the legacies of Brazil’s racial democracy and its ideology of mestiçagem. Paulino’s visuality reclaims Afro-Brazilian ancestral memory and black female complex subjectivities.

Article Details

How to Cite
Santos de Araújo, F. (2019). Rosana Paulino and the Art of Refazimento: Reconfigurations of the Black Female Body in the Land of Racial Democracy. Brasiliana - Journal for Brazilian Studies, 8(1-2), 63-90. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Flavia Santos de Araújo, Smith College

Flávia Santos de Araújo is a literary and cultural studies scholar with teaching and research interests in African diaspora women’s writings and cultural production. She holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in Afro-American studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in literature, Portuguese and English, from the Federal University of João Pessoa (Brazil). She is a Fulbright-CAPES Research Fellow (2008–12).

Araújo’s research focuses on contemporary representations of the black female body in literature and visual culture by black women artists of the Americas—particularly artists from the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.

Araújo’s teaching and research involves transnational, intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of U.S. African American/African diaspora cultural production and theory. Her pedagogy is shaped by her community-based education training with a social justice framework. At Smith, her teaching includes topics on U.S. African American literature and culture, African diaspora women’s literature, Afro-Brazilian literature and culture, and women of color feminisms.


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