Born in Tortosendo.
Raised in Montreal.
Based in Toronto.
I had a course with an Anglophone professor who was interested in Africa. But he didn’t speak or understand Portuguese. He was fascinated with Amílcar Cabral. So he would tell me: “It would be good if you read something.” And that’s where my interest in Africa started – José Curto.
Raised in Tortosende in central mainland Portugal and in Montreal’s Portuguese community, José Curto’s multilingualism would shape his intellectual interests and career as an eminent historian of Angola and the Portuguese transatlantic slave trade. A professor in the Department of History at York University, his prolific work has drawn multiple graduate students from various Lusophone countries to di their graduate studies under his supervision.
José Curto was born in 1957, in Tortosendo, a village in a mountainous region of central mainland Portugal. Ten years later, he moved with his parents to Montreal. They settled in the Saint-Laurent neighbourhood, where many Portuguese immigrants lived. Curto grew up in the midst of Montreal’s Portuguese community, where he was able to maintain his native language, which he spoke at home with his parents. He learned English at his Anglophone Catholic school and French from his interactions with Francophone Montrealers.
Curto’s ability to speak multiple languages would in large part determine his future interest in African history. During his undergraduate studies at Concordia University, one of his professors was fascinated with the Cape Verdean anti-colonialist intellectual and revolutionary Amilcar Cabral. The professor, who could not read Portuguese, asked Curto to read Cabral’s works. This got him interested in the history of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa, especially Angola and the transatlantic slave trade.
After completing his Bachelors of History in 1981, Curto moved to Los Angeles to continue his graduate studies at the University of California. There he obtained Master and Ph.D. degrees in History. After finishing his doctoral studies in 1996, he worked as an instructor and sessional faculty member in multiples universities, including Alberta, Guelph, Trent, and York. In 2003, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at York University, where he is now a full Professor.
Throughout his academic career, Curto has produced numerous journal articles, chapters, books, and edited volumes in English and Portuguese; supervised a large number of graduate students, including many from Lusophone countries; received multiple distinctions and awards; and held important administrative roles in different research centres and associations, including the Harriet Tubman Institute, the Canadian Association of African Studies, and the Lusophone Studies Association. Curto’s research, archival work, and teaching has made him an eminent historian of Angola and the Portuguese transatlantic slave trade of the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Hora dos Portugueses