The most “African” of the Brazilian villages in the south of Bahia bears a Swiss name: Helvécia. It was founded 200 years ago by Swiss and German colonists, and the coffee grown on its vast estates produced great wealth for them. This would not have been possible without exploitation: in the mid-nineteenth century, for 200 white colonists, there were 2,000 slaves of African origin. Black people still make up the majority of the population today; many do not know the origins of their community.
With great sensitivity and in dialogue with the inhabitants, Swiss photographer Dom Smaz goes in search of traces of the past, capturing the lives of the local people. Smaz’s pictures and text
contributions by internationally renowned post-colonialism-expert Shalini Randeria, among others, allow a new look at history and the origins of Switzerland’s wealth, revealing global histories of
interconnectedness and power relations of the past that continue into the present.
Available from October 2022
Edited by Dom Smaz, Milena Machado Neves
With photographs by Dom Smaz
With essays by Izabel Barros, Christian Doninelli, Flávio dos Santos Gomes, Rohit Jain, Shalini Randeria
Design: Adrien Moreillon