Dislocating Europe: postcolonial perspectives in anthropology, art, literature, and history

(PTDC/ELT/71333/2006). P.I.: Manuela Ribeiro Sanches (2008-2012)



The question of “Europe” remains a decisive issue as regards contemporary debates on identities, migration, and the alleged division between “East” and “West”. As a full member of the European Union, Portugal shares the need to address these complex identification processes making it the more urgent to rethink the country’s postcolonial condition, and the relation to its colonial past.

This bids for a new approach to concepts of “Europe” and “Africa”, as well as to classical cartographies that may destabilize traditional borders and identities according to the postcolonial condition. Postcolonial studies and cultural studies have played a major role in such shifts namely as regards comparative studies, in which questions of transnationality have become a decisive issue. This does not mean that local characteristics and their specific role should not be taken into account. These tendencies require that research and disciplines be recontextualized not in an isolated form, but considering the possibility of inter- and transdisciplinary dialogues with the corresponding reconstitution of research objects, on a national and transnational level.

The present project has been designed as a follow-up and a further extension to the research cluster Dislocating Europe we have developed from 2003 to 2006 at the Center for Comparative Studies. We consider that the continuation of the project is fully justified, now on renewed terms, namely by building on, and extending, the topics included in the first phase into new configurations as a result of recent developments which we will present as follows:

  • The intention of the Department of Fine Arts of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation that the project Dislocating “Europe” be the proper setting for transferring the Artafrica website is an important indicator of the effective reasons to maintain and further develop the research done until now. Artafrica has as main objective the linking of art practices, and related initiatives, in local/global contexts, thus adding to the visibility of “peripheral” places thanks to the possibilities offered by the Internet. The mediating role of the site attests to the importance of the dissemination of works, texts, and theories. It also creates the possibility of active involvement individuals, public and private institutions, civil society groups, as well as of extending its effects on a pedagogical level, thus contributing to the creation of virtual public spheres. Although we are aware of the unevenness which the Internet does not always eradicate, we still hold on to the capacities of this new means of communication, namely as regards the questions addressed in the present project.
  • Given the importance of the association made possible by a protocol signed between the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, we intend to develop both projects on this new basis adding to the general concept some initiatives that relate directly to the aims which were fundamental for the concept of both initiatives. In order to attain these aims we propose to develop a series of research initiatives complementary to the website ArtAfrica, on a binational and transnational basis, with special relevance to scientific debates among specialists in diverse areas, namely through colloquia, publications, teaching. Rather than restricting themselves to the academic community, these initiatives aim at larger audiences in Portugal as well as abroad, thus guaranteeing the mediating approach the first part of the project claimed for itself, and the ArtAfrica website also understands as one of its major features. In sum: we intend to mediate/translate between postcolonial approaches and the local issues that characterize Lusophone countries, adding to their reciprocal visibility.

Research Team

  • Principal Investigator
    Manuela Ribeiro Sanches
  • Investigators
    João Ferreira Duarte
    Victoria Hartnack
    Rui Cidra
    Patricia Couto
    Inocência Mata
    José António Fernandes Dias
    Fernando Esperança Clara
  • Bolseira
    Maria Leonor Pires Martins


  • Co-org. Africa.cont
    • “Re-Viewing Empires and their Fantasy Objects” II – December 2012
    • Exhibition  Once Upon a Time – Mónica de Miranda – October 2012 – January -2013
    • Exhibition  An Ocean Between Us –  Mónica de Miranda – November – Decemeber -2012
    • “Re-Viewing Empires and their Fantasy Objects” I – June 2012.
  • Co-org. Africa.cont “O Barulhamento do Mundo”. Oct 2011/ Jan 2012.
    • “Migration, Racism and the Power of Image”. III. Lisboa, October 2010
    • “Migration, Racism and the Power of Image”. II. Naples, October 2010
    • “Migration, Racism and the Power of Image” I. Lisbon, November 2009.
  • International Conference “Europe in Black and White” May 2008.

Selected Publications


Duration of the project