South-South Relations and Public Diplomacy: Brazil’s Development Cooperation in Africa

Principal Investigator:
Adriana Erthal Abdenur, CPD Research Fellow 2014-16

Contributing Researcher:
Jun Gao

Over the past decade, the field of international development has undergone major shifts as several rising powers transitioned from net recipients of aid to net providers of South-South development cooperation.  Not only has this expansion of cooperation altered global flows of finance and know-how, boosting the importance of exchanges among developing countries, it has also generated new tensions within the field of international development.  Most notably, South-South cooperation providers promote discourses based on the respect for national sovereignty, partnership, and political non-conditionality—openly contrasting these principles to those of Northern aid, which they claim is still tainted by the legacy of colonialism and intrusive political conditionalities.

Although there is a burgeoning literature on South-South development cooperation, this scholarship has seldom considered the public diplomacy surrounding these initiatives. This research project aims to address this gap by analyzing the public diplomacy channels, practices, and discourses of an emerging South-South cooperation provider in Africa: Brazil, which began vastly expanding its technical cooperation with Lusophone Africa around 2003. More specifically, what public diplomacy practices and discourses have different actors involved in Brazilian development cooperation in Africa developed in promoting their initiatives to African counterparts? How are claims of innovation and compatibility built into these mechanisms, and how are they received? And finally, how have these practices changed across time as African interlocutors have responded to Brazilian initiatives implemented over the past decade?  The research will focus on public diplomacy efforts related to official  Brazilian development cooperation with African members of the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP).