Globalization and Afro-Brazilian Music and Culture in Salvador

Image of Salvador
Learn about the history of the African diaspora in Brazil and the impact of the globalization of Afro-Brazilian culture by examining music, religion, art, and tourism in Bahia.
Location: Salvador, Brazil
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Winter Break
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Learn about African slavery in Brazil, Afro-Brazilian history, and the vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture.
  • Understand how and why Afro-Brazilian cultural elements such as music and capoeira have gone global and their complexities.
  • Take an interdisciplinary course abroad in English and elect to take a course that fulfills KU Core requirement 4.2 or 6.1. 

Brazil is the largest country in South America and is often compared to the U.S. due to its colonial past and racial makeup. It is known for its natural beauty, music, talent for sports, and growing economy. Salvador, located in the state of Bahia, is the third largest city in the country and is home to the largest Afro-Brazilian population. Its architecture, food, music, religions, and culture have fused European, African, and indigenous elements. The city's historic center is famous for its beautiful cobblestone streets and colonial buildings in Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Deco styles. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1985.  

Brazil had the longest and largest history of African slavery in the Americas. This course will take place in the coastal city of Salvador, which is the city in Brazil where the African influence is most transparent due to the large diaspora from different African regions during the colonial period and to the constant expression— and celebration— of the African heritage in its culture. Afro-Brazilian cultural elements such as the music of Afro groups, capoeira, an art form/martial art/dance and candomblé, a religion, are now realities around the world.

Three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program and will be posted to the student's Spring transcript. The title of the course is Globalization and Afro-Brazilian Music and Culture in Salvador, Brazil. Undergraduate students will enroll in one of the following courses: AAAS 496 (meets KU Core Goal 6.1), GIST 304, LAC 302, MUS 300, or PORT 300 (meets KU Core Goal 4.2). Graduate students will enroll in either MUS 800 or PORT 785. 

The group will likely meet several times virtually or in-person before going to Brazil and once upon return. Readings include essays about Afro-Brazilian music, capoeira, slavery in Brazil, and Bahia's African roots and legacy.

Students will be placed in host families and the family will provide three meals daily. Students will walk or take public transportation to class. 

Cultural activities will enhance the students’ understanding of the rich Afro-Brazilian culture in Brazil, and especially Salvador. Guest lecturers will present on topics such as Brazilian history, music, religion, dance, education, Carnival, and tourism. Planned site visits include temples of Afro-Brazilian religions such as candomblé and syncretic Catholic churches such as the Church of Our Lady of the Black Rosary. The group will also take music classes from Afro-Brazilian percussion groups, visit the Afro-Brazilian museum and attend capoeira, samba, and other Afro-Brazilian dance classes and concerts. Each of these activities will happen with a focus on globalization, the transnationalization of Afro-Brazilian culture, and its influences on the local culture of Salvador.

Planned activities include a guided tour of Salvador, an excursion to the city of Cachoeira to learn about its African heritage and to the beach at Praia do Forte.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition).  The program is open to students of any major. There is no language requirement, though students with previous exposure to Portuguese or Spanish will find it helpful.

Luciano Tosta, Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Dylan Bassett, Lecturer in the School of Music, will co-lead the program.

Professor Tosta specializes in the cultures of the Americas, particularly focused on Afro-Brazilian culture. He is from Salvador and has led numerous study abroad programs there. Contact Professor Tosta at

Professor Bassett is a lecturer in music, with a focus on world percussion, and is the director of the KU West African Drum Ensamble. He has performed in Cuba, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia, and througout the United States. Contact Professor Bassett at

Passport and Entry Requirements

All U.S. citizens must have a passport and obtain a tourist visa prior to departure. The tourist visa can be an e-visa and takes approximately five business days to be issued.

June 2021: Passport processing times for U.S. passports are currently 18 weeks for routine service and 12 weeks for expedited service. Students who don't have a valid passport should apply for one immediately. Read more information about applying for a U.S. passport.

All non-U.S. citizens must check with the Consulate of Brazil to see if a tourist visa is required. Students with residency in Kansas will work through the Consulate General of Brazil in Houston and either have to go in person or work with a visa processing agency. It can take several weeks for the visa to be issued plus mailing time if working with a visa processing agency.