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A little bit of a rebel

Estudo da vida e legado de Pierre Verger
Noam Cohen*

*Noam Cohen, born in Israel, based in Germany, is a master's student at Leipzig University in African Studies, after completing his B.A in Tel Aviv University in General History & African Studies with Magna Cum Laude. He is focusing on North-South dynamics, knowledge production, African modern history, civil society and human rights in Africa and around the world.


Pierre Fatumbi Verger, born in Paris, France and died in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, lived during almost the entire 20th century. From an early age Verger felt constrained in his family socio-economic class, so he chose to “escape”. He became a nomad photographer, and later a researcher, among the most unknown societies of his era, mostly native Africans and their diasporic communities in the Americas. His figure was best described by Gilberto Freyre, that said that Verger was “giving voice to silenced and forgotten communities on both sides of the Atlantic.”.[1]

Lühning stated that he was one of the great researchers to engage with Afro-Brazilian religion and culture,[2] while Rodriguez noted that Verger was among the most outstanding photographers of the 20th century.[3] Yet, his figure has been perceived differently in the global North and South. As Cohen recalled, even though his substantial legacy, Verger remained “marginalized figure, completely outside the canon of the global North.”.[4]

Verger, that was expelled from school at the age of 17 and was a proud autodidact, embraced unique methods in the field, which helped him to gain legitimacy from the people he lived among in Bahia and West Africa. However, paradoxically, he didn’t gain an equal amount of support from the Northen-based academy, particularly from the English-speaking one.

In this paper I will attempt to show that his neglection have links with his unique methods and antagonist position towards the world of Western knowledge production. More importantly, I argue that his pioneering ways of working has an important role in understanding North-South dynamics.

To read the full text: “A little bit of a Rebel” - The Life and Legacy of Pierre Fatumbi Verger from a Global North-South Perspective.

[1] Angela Lühning. (1999). Pierre Fátúmbí Verger: a view from Bahia. Cahiers Du Brésil Contemporain, 38/39, pp. 86.

[2] Lühning. (1999). Pierre Fátúmbí Verger: a view from Bahia. pp. 75.

[3] Javier Escudero Rodriguez (2022). Pierre Fatumbi Verger United States of America, 1934 & 1937. Damiani. pp. 19.

[4] Peter Cohen, personal interview at FPV, 21.02.2024.