The ongoing seminar cycle organised by the WomanArt project was designed as a means to convene experts working on the themes and topics covered by the project, in order to enlarge, update and appraise the results of the research developed by the team. The seminar cycle also promotes awareness of the project both at the international level and among the national community working on related subjects. So far, we have carried through 21 seminars with experts from several universities in Portugal, Brazil, USA and the United Kingdom. Outside the academia, we have also engaged in our debate a set of art curators, writers and artists, always focusing on women’s legacy as thinkers and producers of art works. The main subjects addressed in our seminar cycle have explored the overlapping of private and historical memory in documentaries, literature (poetry, prose and drama) and photography, looking back at the problematic legacy of the Portuguese and Brazilian dictatorships of the 20th century. The debate has equally considered the colonial dimension of the former. Several of the invited speakers also chose to highlight the history of women’s movements during these oppressive periods, or, alternatively, they have mapped women’s unequal access to means and opportunities under these regimes. All the seminars in which we have secured the speakers’ consent are available online, at the project’s site.
ABSTRAC: In this presentation, I provide an overview of my recent book, Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography (Bloomsbury Academic 2019). My study of Portuguese decolonization is framed by five interconnected approaches. First, I approach the study of decolonization as simultaneously a historical event and an ethnographic moment, through different eyewitness accounts that access the experience of the transfer of state power. Second, I focus on the materiality of decolonization, one that involves the massive movement of people, ideas and things across vast oceanic and territorial spaces in a heightened manner and rapid time frame. My third area of research looks at the trauma of decolonization (both singly and doubly experienced for many), as something that has largely not been allowed to be articulated as a form of loss, especially for those minority communities caught between matrices of new and old power that I showcase in this book. Fourthly, this project of decolonization is one of writing post-national narratives that takes its cue from the analytic work and intertwined histories showcased in the book. My fifth (and last) area of intervention is to open up the kinds of source materials we use to access narratives of decolonization as different forms of seeing, thinking and writing about history. It is here that I juxtapose what I consider the visual, the lyrical and the visceral. As a way to illustrate these five distinct approaches to studying decolonization, I will showcase individual case studies drawn from specific body chapters.
Pamila Gupta is Professor at WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology from Columbia University. She has written on such varied topics as the monsoon; monuments, tiles and the colour blue for the Portuguese diaspora in South Africa; islandness in the Indian Ocean; tourism and heritage design in Goa; Goan fishermen and urban renovation in Mozambique; tailoring, photography and visual cultures in Zanzibar; and chick-lit and swimming pools in Johannesburg. She is the co-editor of Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean with Isabel Hofmeyr and Michael Pearson (UNISA, 2010). Her first monograph entitled The Relic State: St. Francis Xavier and the Politics of Ritual in Portuguese India was published by Manchester University Press (2014) and her second monograph entitled Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography was recently published with Bloomsbury Academic Press (2019).
‘Where are the women?’ Gender, work and anti-colonial writing
I’m going to talk about my ongoing research into two journals, Présence Africaine, published in Paris from 1947, and Mensagem, published in Lisbon between 1948 and 1964. These journals offer a highly suggestive archive from which to bring forward women in (literary) anti-colonial histories. They render women partially-visible and draw attention to the divisions of labour that go into the production of literary work. In the context of the paucity of women authors at both journals in the 1950s and 1960s, I will discuss questions of historiography, archiving and the (non-representative) significance of existing women’s literary writing.
Phillip specializes in the literatures and cultures of Portugal and Lusophone Africa. He favours psychoanalytic theory as a tool to furthering our understanding of Portuguese culture and its imperial aftermaths. An authority on the Mozambican writer Mia Couto and the Angolan author Pepetela, his current research focuses on disavowal as a structuring discourse in Portuguese colonialism. Phillip lectures on Lusophone African and Portuguese authors with a particular focus on the twentiteth and twenty-first centuries. He leads undergraduate seminars on Angolan and Mozambican culture. He aso regularly teaches translation classes. At the graduate level, he oversees the Portuguese methodology seminar, the Portuguese Research Seminar and co-teaches modules of the Women’s Studies MSt with Professor Claudia Pazos Alonso.