June 13, 2024

The cover of "Alluring Opportunities," and author Todd Cleveland, professor of history.

Cornell University Press; University of Arkansas

The cover of “Alluring Opportunities,” and author Todd Cleveland, professor of history.

Todd Cleveland, a professor in the Department of History, recently published a book titled Alluring Opportunities: Tourism, Empire, and African Labor in Colonial Mozambique with Cornell University Press. The work examines the lives of African laborers in the tourism industry in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the social ascension that many of these workers achieved in spite of demanding conditions. From the origin of the colonial period until its end in 1975, the tourism industry developed on the backs of these laborers and ultimately became an important source of foreign exchange for Portugal.

Cleveland explores the daily experiences of local tourism workers in the genesis and expansion of this vital industry with an analytical utility that transcends Africa’s borders by complicating the narrative established and reinforced by an expansive body of literature that stresses the exploitation of indigenous tourism workers. He argues that just as foreign tourists embraced the opportunity to travel to various locations in Mozambique, so too did many Indigenous laborers seize opportunities for employment in the tourism industry in an effort to realize social mobility via both the steady wages that they earned and their daily interactions with sojourning clientele.

As part of his research, Cleveland collected oral histories from former laborers, drawing on their recollections to reconstruct their lives and to uncover their critical contributions to the local tourism industry. The result is a book that prompts a reconsideration of indigenous labor and social mobility in colonial Africa. Cleveland also reveals new ways of thinking, more broadly, about the ways that tourism shapes processes of empire, interracial interactions and power relations.

Cleveland serves as vice chair and director of graduate studies in the Department of History. His previous books have explored the history of Lusophone Africa and the history of African sports in a global context. His next book, Africa and the Olympics: Winning Away From the Podium, will appear in 2024 from Ohio University Press. 

Alluring Opportunities: Tourism, Empire, and African Labor in Colonial Mozambique is available through Cornell University Press.


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