Práticas da História – Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past
- Número 3
- ISSN: 2183-590X
- Tema: “The archive and the subaltern” – Coordenado por Carolien Stolte e António da Silva Rego
This special issue takes inspiration from a series of events surrounding Dipesh Chakrabarty’s visit to Leiden University in October 2015. Especially thought-provoking was the Faculty Roundtable entitled ‘Minor Archives, Meta Histories: Rethinking Peripheries in the Age of Global Assemblages’. Together with Nira Wickramasinghe, Ksenia Robbe, Wayne Modest, and Ethan Mark, Chakrabarty discussed the potential of the ‘minor mode’: scholarship that seeks to give voice to the marginalized, foregrounds history’s ‘unlikely subjects’ and critiques the larger historiographical frames that rendered them invisible in the first place. Questions that drove the roundtable were how we might use micro-voices, -histories, and –archives to articulate different conceptions of the global and of global history; how they might help to imagine a post-national historiography in the Global South; but also where we might look for the appropriate sources for such histories. In other words: what is the archive of the minor?
A full transcript of the roundtable is included with this issue, in which the speakers touch on issues ranging from the interpretation of Australian Aboriginal songs, to discursive power imbalances within the Global South, to the ways in which scaling up – even to the planetary level – can still be considered part of the ‘minor mode’. Making this roundtable available to the wider public was an initiative of António da Silva Rêgo. From that starting point we developed the idea of a dedicated special issue, for which we recruited reflections on the nature of the archive and the possible sources for writing subaltern history.
In the first research article, ‘Travellers in Archives, or the Possibilities of a Post-Post-Archival Historiography’, Benjamin Zachariah shows what the historical profession stands to gain from a more active conception of the archive. It is time, he argues, to recover from the ‘post-archival’ condition, first contracted by historians in the wake of the postmodernist interventions of the 1970s and, more pertinent to this special issue, Ranajit Guha’s influential intervention in Subaltern Studies II [Ranajit Guha, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency,” in Selected Subaltern Studies, ed. Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Spivak, (New Dehli: Oxford University Press, 1988 ), 45-85]. The archive was generalized into a state-created collection of documents, meant to reinforce the state’s own legitimacy. With the colonial archive, in this view, the statist perspective was further exacerbated. As Zachariah notes, the colonial archive was seen as a ‘repository of prejudice’, reflecting colonial viewpoints rather than historical reality. Any effort to be attentive to the way the colonial archive was constructed, to read sources critically or to compensate for the biases inherent in the archive, was doomed to failure: Guha concluded his essay by stating that even historians seeking to write from the subaltern’s point of view are distanced from colonial discourse ‘only by a declaration of sentiment’ [Ranajit Guha, “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency,” in Selected Subaltern Studies, ed. Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Spivak, (New Dehli: Oxford University Press, 1988 ), 84].
Zachariah calls upon historians to join a recent historiographical trend that, while maintaining a critical perspective on the archive, can overcome some of the limiting aspects of Guha’s view of it: by seeing the archive not as a place, but as a rhetorical move – a set of sources collected and combined by the historian, driven by his or her research questions. For archivally-minded historians his conclusions will be cause for optimism: ‘the singular control over history and memory attributed to ‘the’ archive has never existed. We invent an archive every time we have a question to answer; and then someone reinvents the archive in the service of a new question.’
Next, Dale Luis Menezes questions Indian nationalist discourses in Portuguese India, and the sources we need to consider these discourses critically. ‘Christians and Spices: a Critical Reflection on Indian Nationalist Discourses in Portuguese India’ illuminates the unique colonial trajectory that set Portuguese India apart from British India, and the way this has shaped a postcolonial trajectory for the region that likewise sets it apart from the Indian nationalist mainstream. Examining debates in the Konkani language press, in pamphlets and in other political writings, he problematizes the widespread understanding of the Portuguese period as one of spiritual and cultural destruction, as well as its mirror image: the problematic ways in which the region was discursively ‘made’ into an integral part of the Indian nation.
With Ruy Llera Blanes’ article, our discussion stays within the realm of archives and their representation of subaltern interests and perspectives. His contribution, too, is ultimately optimistic when it comes to archival potential, but like our other contributors, he locates this potential outside the archives of the state. In ‘A Febre do Arquivo. O “efeito Benjamin” e as revoluções angolanas’ (Archival Fever. The “Benjamin effect” and the Angolan Revolutions’), Blanes discusses the crucial importance of the archive in understanding recent political upheavals in Angola. Taking his cue from Derrida’s concept of archive fever [Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever. A Freudian Impression [first published as Mal d’Archive: Une Impression Freudienne] (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)], he argues that Angola’s contemporary political dialectic produces a distance between hegemonic and subaltern interests in confrontation. Blanes analyzes the archive of the so-called Revu movement as a subaltern archive, and elucidates the processes through which it poses an epistemological alternative to the official narrative of the Angolan regime. This includes rendering ‘invisible chronologies’ of protest and repression visible, and the ‘recovery’ of lost memory: it offers a rereading of the history of Angola as an independent country.
Orazio Irrera concludes the research section with an article entitled ‘De l’archéologie du savoir aux archives coloniales. L’archive comme dispositif colonial de violence épistémique’ (On the Archaeology of Knowledge in Colonial Archives. The Archive as a Colonial Device of Epistemic Violence). Irrera problematizes the archive as a place of production of truth at the intersection of its epistemological
and juridico-political matrices, in order to show to what extent the archive reflects European modernity and its colonial expansion. With Benjamin Zachariah above, he notes that recent projects, both documentary and artistic, have made the archive into an object of derision, the device of an alternative history or counter-memory. Irrera argues, however, that the force of subversion revealed by these projects cannot be understood without grasping the specific type of violence that once accompanied the establishment of the archives. Referring to strategies of objectification, surveillance, and control, he shows how the archive is linked to the proces of extracting and registering knowledge. Analyzing the archive’s direct relationship to such forms of epistemic violence, he focuses on two different aspects: ‘gestures of silence’, which create discernable absences in the colonial archive, and the ways in which the colonial archive testifies to an anguish linked to discrepancies between colonial intent, and practice on the ground.
Ranging from India to Angola and from the Goan vernacular press to records of the colonial state, each contribution to this issue takes forward questions around the archive and the minor mode. Fittingly, the issue is completed by an in-depth interview with Sanjay Seth, known for his thoughtful interventions on the theory and practice of writing history, conducted by José Neves.
Carolien Stolte (Leiden University)
Tipologia do Evento:
Sessão de cinema
Detalhes do Evento
Conferência que pretende enquadrar o ativismo individual nos estudos mais recentes que concebem a solidariedade contra o colonialismo português como parte de um movimento transnacional. Anticolonial Struggle, Transnational Solidarity
Detalhes do Evento
Conferência que pretende enquadrar o ativismo individual nos estudos mais recentes que concebem a solidariedade contra o colonialismo português como parte de um movimento transnacional.
Anticolonial Struggle, Transnational Solidarity and Agency of Individual Actors:
Dialogues with the Portuguese Colonies, 1945-1975
Basil Davidson, a British journalist, took interest in African history from 1951 onward and went on to write about the struggle of the national liberation movements from Portuguese colonies. By the middle of the decade, Ben Barka and other Moroccan students engaged in the struggle for the independence of their country encountered Aquino de Bragança, Edmundo Rocha and Marcelino dos Santos in Paris, where they were pursuing their university studies, and these contacts facilitated later the establishment of the Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies’ (CONCP) permanent Secretariat in Rabat. Jean Mettas, a French anticolonial activist during the Algerian war for independence, came across Amílcar Cabral in Dakar, in 1962, and due to their friendship was one of the first activists to publicize in France the struggle for independence of Guinea-Bissau. Years later, in 1967, at a dinner organized by South African exiles in Kenia, the African American lawyer Robert van Lierop met Eduardo Mondlane and together they conceived the idea of producing, for American audiences, the film A Luta Continua about the armed struggle in Mozambique.
These are few examples of how personal connections, established in places serving as hubs of decolonization–for instance Lisbon, Paris, London and Rome, but also the newly-independent African countries–were instrumental for the solidarity towards the struggle for independence of Portuguese colonies. Not only the liberation movements actively sought to cultivate personal contacts to internationalize their liberation struggles, but a wide variety of actors from across the globe voluntarily engaged in complex relationships with the anticolonialists from Portuguese colonies. Journalists, academics, film-makers, missionaries, priests, doctors, intellectuals and students, to name a few, became activists, fuelling anticolonial and anti-racist discourses for international audiences and attracting material and non-material resources for the liberation movements. Even Portuguese opponents to the Estado Novo regime, exiles, emigrants and military deserters living for instance in Algeria, France, Brazil and Morocco played a role in the international debate on Portuguese colonialism and interacted with the liberation movements. In many circumstances, the activists were at the centre of campaigns to support the national liberation movements, acting on an individual capacity. Sometimes they brought with them a web of connections, helping to create formal and informal networks of support such as the anticolonial solidarity groups.
Nevertheless, while the role of governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations in the solidarity towards the liberation movements from Portuguese colonies has received an increasing attention, the agency of individual figures needs to be explored in greater depth to strengthen our knowledge on the subject. To expand the parameters of inquiry on solidarity to individual players who engaged in the support of the struggle against Portuguese colonialism from 1945 until 1975, the Institute of Contemporary History — NOVA University of Lisbon and the University of Florence will organize a conference to be held in Lisbon between 26-27 January 2023. The conference intends to frame the individual activism in the most recent scholarship that conceives the solidarity against Portuguese colonialism as part of a transnational movement, nurtured by multiple ties and interactions across state frontiers.
Call for papers
Proposals for 20-minute presentations on issues related to individual solidarity will be accepted, including but not limited to the following topics:
-The schemes, plans of action and approaches devised by individual figures to link with the liberation movements.
-The many different forms of connections established between individual activists and the liberation movements.
-The networks of support to the liberation movements shaped by individual connections.
-The ways in which countries around the world–specially the newly-independent African countries–became platforms for contacts between the liberation movements and individual actors.
-The strategies used by individuals to influence public opinion, advance the cause of the liberation movements and transform the policies of their own governments.
-The personal trajectories of the individual activists and the paper trail they produced.
Abstracts of presentations (300 words) and biographical notes (250 words) should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 25 July 2022
Notification of acceptance: 15 September 2022
Working language: English.
The organizers foresee the publication of the communications.
Rob Skinner (University of Bristol)
Alba Martín Luque (University of Florence)
Aurora Almada e Santos (IHC — NOVA University of Lisbon / IN2PAST)
João Miguel Almeida (IHC — NOVA University of Lisbon / IN2PAST)
Miguel Filipe Silva (IHC — NOVA University of Lisbon / IN2PAST)
Rebeca Ávila (IHC — NOVA University of Lisbon / IN2PAST)
Alda Romão Saúte Saíde (Universidade Pedagógica de Maputo)
Ângela Coutinho (IPRI — NOVA University of Lisbon)
Conceição Neto (Universidade Agostinho Neto)
Eric Burton (University of Innsbruck)
Jean-Michel Mabeko-Tali (Howard University)
Julião Soares Sousa (CEIS20 — University of Coimbra)
Víctor Barros (IHC — NOVA University of Lisbon / IN2PAST)
Picture: Basil Davidson and Agostinho Neto in Moxico, Angola (© Basil Davidson, 1970)
26 (Quinta-feira) 10:00 am - 27 (Sexta-feira) 5:00 pm
Link dedicado na plataforma Zoom
Instituto de História Contemporânea — Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade NOVA de Lisboacomunicacao.email@example.com Avenida de Berna, 26C — 1069-061 Lisboa
Dez 8, 2022
Victor Pereira foi um dos premiados com o Prémio Aristides de Sousa Mendes 2022.
Dez 5, 2022
Foi publicado o website do projecto Memória Oral da Diplomacia Portuguesa.
Dez 3, 2022
Nota de pesar da Direcção do IHC pelo falecimento de Fernando Ampudia de Haro.