P04 – Colonial power, knowledge and archives: revisiting “Along the Archival Grain”

23.05.2017, Auditorium B2.03,​ 2nd floor, ​ Building II, ISCTE-IUL​

P04.A – 09.00-10.20 | P04.B – 10.30-11.50

Susana Castillo Rodríguez – Saint Anselm College, NH. USA

Abstract: This panel focuses on the analysis of colonial periodical press from the intersection of language, ideologies, and power. As such, we intend to highlight the linguistic and classificatory practices developed by the colonial powers that pervaded those periodicals and to analyze the national and international circulation of images and texts across imperial domains in the making of a colonial archive and a colonial imaginary. Missions, private and public colonial companies dedicated to the exploitation of mines, timber, cacao and European administrators promoted and used those periodicals as a mean to construct, propagate and legitimize the ‘colonial gaze’.

Keywords: Colonial archive, Cultural imaginaries, Native and colonial agencies, Language ideologies

P04.A – 09.00-10.20

1. Albert Farré, Universidade de Brasilia, PPGAS, Brasil                                                                 

Colonial Debates on Native Labour in the Boletim da Sociedade de Estudos de Moçambique (BSEM)

The Society for Mozambican Studies’ Bulletin (BSEM is the acronym in Portuguese) appeared in the early 1930s and it soon became one of the most influential periodicals in Mozambique. Enlightened colonial civil servants published there their contributions, with the aim to increase the scientific knowledge on the colony of Mozambique. Some focused on botany, zoology or other domains of the natural sciences, while others were interested in several social aspects of the native populations. District administrators were among the most prone to consider social issues, as their texts were an outcome of direct observations of rural contexts, as well as an example of Portuguese colonial imagination. In this communication I will look at two civil servants who were posted at Homoine, in southern Mozambique, in different periods of time. Joaquim Nunes published during the 1930, and Antonio Rita-Ferreira did the same two decades later. Both raised similar points related to labour migration to the gold mines in South Africa: for example its implications for the economy of the colony as a whole, and the better way to rule this kind of mobile and cosmopolitan natives. Works by Ann Laura Stoler on colonial archives are helpful to reflect the colonial fears and uncertainties in the ever-changing daily live of a colony neighbouring one of the fastest industrialization process in the xxth century.

Keywords: Labour, migration, colonial administration, Inhambane

 2. Susana Castillo Rodríguez, Saint Anselm College, NH., EUA

 Language, racialization and power in the newspaper Ebano (former Spanish Guinea)

The newspaper Ebano monopolized colonial press in Equatorial Guinea during the first half of the twentieth century. Audience was mainly white colonists, “finqueros” displaced from the Peninsula to make money with lumber and cacao. By analyzing the corpus of editorial articles published in Ebano, I will address the following questions: how are cultural imaginaries about indigenous people produced? To what extent do these cultural imaginaries entail actions of political propaganda? Do the compilation and categorizing logics of textual sources correspond to racializing practices and theoretical attributions of human difference? Can we trace within Ebano (in its practice of collecting and producing knowledge) the articulation of language ideologies and linguistic differentiations such as iconization, fractal recursivity or erasure (J. T. Irvine and Susan Gal, 2009)? Who are the social agents in these processes?

Keywords: Language ideologies, Ebano, Equatorial Guinea, United States of America

3. Maciel Santos (CEAUP), Portugal e Miguel Silva (CEAUP), Portugal

The 1920’s Railway Strikes in Angola and Mozambique– Comparative Approaches throughout the Colonial Press

In 1944 the wage workers represented around 4% of the total Sub-Saharan African population, South Africa excluded. However such a small percentage did not correspond to their effective bargaining power. In particular production sectors and regions the working classes could rely on the tightness of the African labour market. That was the case of the railway workers of the international lines of Angola and Mozambique during the 1920’s.

These railway networks connected the inland mining areas of the Belgian Congo and of the Rhodesias with the seaports of Lobito (Angola), Lourenço Marques and Beira (Mozambique): they were of utmost importance to mining capital, not to mention to the revenues of the Portuguese colonial state. It is commonly accepted that the railway workers of Portuguese colonial Africa – mainly professionals of European origin – were not bound to enlarge their social support base towards the African working class. Yet and in spite of a few path-breaking essays, not much is known about their impact both on local and metropolitan societies. The colonial press of Angola and Mozambique allows for a comprehensive survey of their history. This paper intends to use its material with a view to contribute to a new approach of some of the earliest African Trade Unions.

Keywords: Workers press, railway workers, Angola, Mozambique

4. Mikko Toivanen, European University Institute, Florence, Itália

Contested spaces: reviews of travel writing in the British colonial press as a battleground for the legitimacy of colonial society

This paper examines how the British colonial press responded to the boom in popular travel writing from the British possessions in the Indian Ocean sphere around the middle of the nineteenth century. A close reading of reviews and excerpts of such travel books, and of editorials devoted to the topic, published in the colonial press shows that, beyond a simple literary concern, the question of how one should write about the colonies became a hotly debated issue of political significance. Looking at journals published both in the metropole and in the colonies – the venerable Calcutta Review being a notable example of the latter – the analysis shows that cultural elites in the colonies were often concerned with what they thought of as trivial and frivolous travelogues, fearing that their popularity might diminish the reputation of colonial society, while metropolitan titles were happier to accept such works for their ability to attract a wider readership. The fear of the former had both a class and a geographical aspect, as the authors of popular colonial travel writing were often of a lower social class, for example soldiers, and/or newcomers and temporary residents with no roots in the East, mercilessly lambasted as “Cockney” tourists and “travelled John Bulls” in critiques. Literary reviews thus became an arena of self-defence for the colonial elites afraid of losing their influence to metropolitan interests in the wake of the abolition of the East India Company in 1858.

Keywords: Colonial press, British India, Indian Ocean, travel writing, reception

P04.B – 10.30-11.50


5. Nathalie Tousignant, Université – Saint-Louis-Bruxelles, Bélgica

Travail et Progrès. Labour in Belgian colonial legal periodicals (1920-1940), as the cornerstone of imperial visions for Congo

Travail et Progrès (Work/Labour and Progress), the motto of both Congo Free State and Belgian Congo, encapsulates the core values of imperial visions developed in Belgium during the 19th and 20th centuries. This contribution focuses on the interwar period, as the golden age that fosters new social models to elevate Congolese people to modernity. This perception, shared by most agents of administration, magistracy, missionaries and private companies, needed to be translated in few rules that sketch the framework of labour, free and non-free. Using the first periodicals fully dedicated to colonial law, legislation and case law, published both in Brussels and in Elisabethville (nowadays Lubumbashi, Katanga), I will track uses of labour, words associated to the concept, frequent co-occurrences, to draw the ideological genealogy as quantitative approach. Context provides insights on authorship and debates, in this case study limited to colonial authorities (Minister for Colonies in Brussels, Colonial advisory board and General Government in Boma then in Léopoldville). The promotion of labour and, in the mean time, the fight against what was then labelled as “laziness” drive to modernity, understood in a very paternalistic and evolutionist model of Congolese societies.

Keywords: Belgium, Congo, labour, legal periodicals

6. Annie Shelley, University of Western Australia, Australia

Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo: An emblem of nineteenth-century Britain’s strength and stability in the Illustrated London News

The nineteenth-century colonial hotel, as a collective hub around which the daily lives of Europeans in the colonies circulated, has historically functioned as an overt symbol of colonial power. Physical displays of power within the built environment were especially important to the British colonial rule in Egypt as British authorities struggled to suppress Egyptian nationalism and Sudanese rebels. Disastrous and mounting British losses were both captivating and appalling the British public. Representations of life at the iconic Shepherd’s Hotel in Cairo were an effective way to communicate (and justify) British colonial rule in the region to the metropolitan public.

This paper considers Richard Caton Woodville’s illustration “”Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo,”” which featured in an 1884 edition of the popular weekly Illustrated London News, (ILN) in regards to the social, political and cultural context of Britain in Egypt. The paper will argue that the ILN used the quintessentially-British hotel and its surrounds as a way to advance Britain’s agenda of political strength in Egypt and the Sudan.  By presenting the illustration of Shepheard’s and its famous terrace and surrounds as a light-hearted mise-en-scene of late-nineteenth-century Cairo, the ILN reassured the British public of their stability  and helped popularise Victorian ideas to do with the roles of women in the colonies, military expansion, and orientalist stereotypes.

Keywords: Britain, military expansion, press illustration, propaganda, imperialism, colonial hotel

7. Monica Palmeri, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Itália

Built environment and “paper’s architectures”: critical reflections about the theme of “ambientazione”

During the first National Congress of Urbanism (Rome, 1937) Carlo E. Rava affirmed: “the architects need to understand the real concern about colonial construction, problem about “italianità” and, at the same time, about environment, actuality, culture, dignity and power: colonial architecture has to mean imperial affirmation but also search of “ambientazione”, fusion of an elaborate modernity with a deep understanding about climate, latitude and color’s demands.” Rava’ speech underline an interesting issue: the presence of “ambientazione” as desired characteristic in Empire’s future architecture. This presence is meaningful because it defines a dialectical relationship with the architect previous activity based on the principles of Italian Rationalism which refuses the concept of “ambientazione”. Furthermore, “ambientazione” can be tracked also in the organisation of colonial exhibitions both in metropole and in colonial cities. Defined by Renato De Fusco “paper’s architectures”, temporary exhibitions compete, in this case, to delineate the shape of a major problem concerning the typology of language selected for the construction of the Empire’s image, both to architectural and museographic level. The aim of the proposed paper consists on the one hand in outlining the problem related to the concept of “ambientazione” in the colonial constructions and through a museographic perspective and, on the other hand, to show how it has been presented to colonial press’ public.

Keywords: colonial press, architecture, rationalism, colonies, propaganda, museography

8. Ana Vaz Milheiro, DINÂMIA’CET, ISCTE-IUL, Portugal

Cabo Verde Boletim de Propaganda e Informação (1949-63): Building the periphery of the Portuguese Empire in the local press

Edited between 1949 and 1963, in a set of 156 editions and 177 numbers, the “Cabo Verde Boletim de Propaganda e Informação” became, like other colonial periodical press promoted in the final period of the Portuguese colonization, in vehicle of information on the main events occurring in Cape Verdea territory. It pursued other similar press, case of the pioneer “Boletim Cultural da Guiné Portuguesa”. The editorial model followed was that in the “Boletim Geral da Colónias/ do Ultramar”, created about thirty years earlier.

Promoted by the Cape Verdean cultural elite, it is not plain how the editors and collaborators were aware of its propaganda function, or whether they interpreted their performance as vindications actions (calling attention to the lack of investment by the central government). This paper try to accomplish a first look of the role of this periodical in the consolidation of an imaginary built in Cape Verde, one of the most depressed regions of the former Portuguese Colonial Empire. It does so from the subjects addressed (City, Architecture and Public Works), by questioning the editorial strategies as the repetition of news, inducing dynamic procedures (in particular of PW services) that did not correspond to reality, and also referring the increasingly use of photography to enlighten public ventures. A fundamental issue approached is the way in which the Cape Verdean elite accepted the governmental action, namely through the reception reserved for the great PW.

Keywords:: Cape Verde, Colonial Public Works, territorial infrastructures


 Albert Farré has a PhD in History (2005) and a degree in Social Anthropology by the University of Barcelona. He did ethnographic fieldwork in Mozambique, Uganda and D.R. Congo. He was postdoctoral research fellow at the African Studies Centre in Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) and at the Human Economy Programme in the University of Pretoria. He is a postdoctoral researcher (PNPD-CAPES) at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Brasilia.

Ana Vaz Milheiro is an Assistant Professor, with Aggregation, at ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon and a researcher at DINÂMIA’CET-IUL. PhD at the University of São Paulo, Brazil (2004). Her book “Nos Trópicos sem Le Corbusier, arquitectura luso-africana no Estado Novo” (2012), received the Art and Architecture Critic and Essay Award from AICA (International Association of Art Critics)/Fundação Carmona e Costa. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of “Coast to Coast – Late Portuguese Infrastructural Development in Continental Africa (Angola and Mozambique): Critical and Historical Analysis and Postcolonial Assessment”, a research project funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Annie Shelley is a PhD candidate in Visual Art at the University of Western Australia. Her thesis is titled Painting the Nile: Women’s artistic representations of The Orient in the mid to late nineteenth century. She has a background in English, Literature and Art Education and is a practising artist with an interest in textile processes and drawing.

Maciel Santos holds a PhD in Early Modern and Modern History from FLUP (University of Oporto, Portugal). Assistant Professor in FLUP´s History Department; senior researcher and board member of the Scientific Committee of CEAUP (Centre for African Studies of the Oporto University). Director of the CEAUP scientific journal “Africana Studia.  His research focuses on political and economic problematics in African colonial period.

Miguel Filipe Silva is a PhD student in Modern History in FLUP (University of Oporto, Portugal), MBA from UCP (Portuguese Catholic University). Graduated in History from FLUP. Researcher in CEAUP (Centre for African Studies of the Oporto University). Invited lecturer in African Studies and International Relationships, History and Development Cooperation masters, FLUP. His research focuses are the labour movement and social economy. He was the editor of the CEAUP scientific journal “Africana Studia”.

Mikko Toivanen is currently a PhD researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has previously received a BA in History and Politics from the University of Warwick (2012) and an MA in Colonial and Global History from Leiden University (2014). His research interests include nineteenth-century colonial history in British and Dutch Southeast Asia, the history of travel, and the cultural history of imperialism.

Monica Palmeri (Palermo, 1989) received a Master degree with honour in February 2015 with a History and Criticism thesis. She is currently a PhD student in Historical and Cultural Heritage’ Science at Università degli Studi della Tuscia (Viterbo, Italy) and her project focuses on colonial exhibitions in Italy during the fascist dictatorship.

Nathalie Tousignant is Full Professor of Contemporary History at Université Saint-Louis-Bruxelles. Her second research project looks at Belgium’s imperial past and relations between Belgium and Congo, specifically on the history of law and justice in colonial context. Her second research agenda focuses on the European integration and attempts to create common knowledge through the development of a specific field of expertise, implementing new scientific journals, fellowships and networks.

Susana Castillo Rodríguez, Ph.D in Anthropology (UCM-Spain) and Ph.D in Hispanic Linguistics (CUNY, USA), is Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Saint Anselm College, NH. She is presently working on colonial and missionary linguistics in Equatorial Guinea. Her work focuses on the politics of language, history and language ideologies. Her publications on Afro-hispanic linguistics include El proyecto con agentes nativos de la misión jamaicana en Fernando Póo: su herencia colonial. In Revista Éndoxa. Nº 37. June 2016; The Circulation of Language: Cuban and Afro-Cuban Loanwords in Equatorial Guinea. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Issue 239 (2016); La colonización lingüística de España en Guinea Ecuatorial. Platô. Instituto Internacional da Lingua Portuguesa.. She has coordinated the Spanish translation of Languages Ideologies. Ed. by Schieffelin, Kroskrity and Woolard (Ideologías lingüísticas: práctica y teoría. La CATARATA –UNESCO ETXEA, 2012).

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