NATIONAL IDENTITIES IN DIALOGUE: POLITICAL AND LITERARY IDENTITY CONSTRUCTIONS IN PORTUGAL, ANGOLA AND MOZAMBIQUE (1961-PRESENT)

EXPLORATORY PROJECT (IF/00654/2015)

P.I.: Doris Wieser

Description

This research project aims to contribute to a better understanding of how national identities are constructed in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique, before and after the Carnation Revolution (25 April 1974), in the complex tension between colonial power and colony. Neither the identity of the (ex)colonizer nor the (ex)colonized can be fully understood without taking in account the dialogue with the other(s). Politics and literature play a significant role in the construction of national identities. Identities, created and spread by the authorities, are partly affirmed and partly delegitimized by literary works. This research project therefore deals with literary works (poetry, prose), counterpoints them with political discourses (decrees, manifestos, propaganda) and examines the diachronic change in the construction of identity from the late colonial (1961-1974) to the postcolonial era (1975-present). The construction of national identities in these countries and the two historical stages have been explored individually, but not from a comparative, dialogic and diachronic perspective, which greatly enriches the perception of contradictions and ambiguities between the created auto- and hetero-images of the nations.

Objectives

This project aims to make innovative contribution at different levels: theory, method and range.

  • Concerning the theoretical approach, the project contributes to the scientific debate about national identities by including the work of the “decolonial turn” (Quijano, Grosfoguel, Mignolo etc.), which have barely been discussed in the field of Lusophone Studies.
  • The project introduces an innovative method of text analysis by combining Yuri Lotman’s semantic spaces with decolonial concepts.
  • With regard to the range, the project aims to provide both a diachronic and comparative analysis of identity constructions and a systematic contrasting of literary texts with political discourses with regard to their construction of identity.

Activities

  • Coordination of the panel “‘Women’ and Colonial Periodic Press” with Jessica Falconi at the International Congress Politics and Culture in Colonial Periodic Press, Lisbon (22-25 May 2017).
  • “Urban Transformations in the Post-Independence Period: Crónica da Rua 513.2, by João Paulo Borges Coelho”, paper presented at the International Congress Cartógrafo de Memórias: A Poética de João Paulo Borges Coelho, FLUL (July 13-14, 2017).
  • “The curly hair of the ‘returnees’: ethnicity and gender in the literature on mestizo identities in Portugal”, paper presented at the XII Congress of the German Association of Lusitanists (Lusitanistentag), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (13-16 September 2017).

Duration of the project

January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2021