Workshop 23.03.2023
History and Methodology
4:00 pm | CAN - Colégio Almada Negreiros, SA Room Colonial Monuments in Public Spaces: Materialities, Imposed Memories, and Contested Historical Narratives, by Victor Barros (Casa de Velázquez and IHC - NOVA FCSH / IN2PAST)


This presentation proposes to analyze how colonial commemorative monuments inscribe the symbolism and practice of colonialism in time and space. Studying colonial monuments as a source of historical analysis implies, in methodological terms, adopting a constructivist historiographic perspective that, on the one hand, looks at these artifacts as materialities produced in specific spatial-temporal contexts by agents inserted in unequal power relations networks and driven by various socio-political and cultural motivations. On the other hand, monuments should also be researched from the repertoire of messages, symbols, and discourses (written, imagetic, allegorical, and others) they disseminate to the public, inducing essentialist visions of temporality that are sometimes anachronistic and even contradictory to each other. Another methodological caveat: monuments are not a direct incarnation of the facts to which they allude, nor are they the history proper of the events they evoke. On the contrary. They are aesthetic-political (but not only) materializations of devices and expedients that power generates and manages. In this sense, they should be investigated as instruments that teach us much more about the epochs, political regimes, and people who produced and promoted them than about the past, time, and history they intend to narrate (only with appearance and simulacrum). The colonial commemorative monuments of Cape Verde will be examined as integral instruments of the imperial repertoire and, at the same time, as material resources and political-cultural technologies to revitalize the power's message networks that conceived them. Without losing sight of the recent transnational contests around the memorial legacies of slavery and colonialism still present in public space, the presentation will also highlight some aspects related to the public uses of the past and demands for rewriting history.


Victor Barros is a historian, PhD in Contemporary Studies from the University of Coimbra with a thesis on commemorations, public uses of history, and memory of the empire in the colonies during the Portuguese Estado Novo (1933-1974), a thesis distinguished in October 2020 in the Agostinho Neto International Historical Research Award. He is also the author of the book Concentration Camps in Cape Verde: Islands as Spaces of Deportation and Imprisonment in the Portuguese Estado Novo, distinguished with an Honorable Mention in the Vitor de Sá Contemporary History Award in 2008. His research interests focus on colonial history and colonial empires, anti-colonialism, memory politics, public uses of colonial memory, history writing, among others. He also worked as a member of the research project 'Amílcar Cabral - From Political History to Memory Politics'. He has articles published in journals such as The International History Review; Revista Portuguesa de História; Revista Angolana de Sociologia; Revista de História da Ideias; Práticas da História: Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past; European Contemporary History. He is currently a researcher at the École des Hautes Études Hispaniques et Ibériques of Casa de Velázquez in Madrid and a member of the Institute of Contemporary History of the Nova University of Lisbon.


The event is open to anyone who wants to participate, with prior registration at Google doc.



Yvette Santos (IHC — NOVA FCSH / IN2PAST)
 Mariana Meneses Muñoz (CHAM — NOVA FCSH)  







Poster (.pdf)