Women Writing Portuguese Colonialism in Africa

BookOpen AccessWomen Writing Portuguese Colonialism in Africa

Women Writing Portuguese Colonialism in Africa

Contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures, 22


October 1st, 2020


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This book represents the first attempt to query the contribution of women as cultural agents to the colonization, the anti-colonial opposition and the decolonization of territories ruled by Portugal in the African continent between the turn of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first. In contrast to the longstanding scholarship on the subject as regards other European empires, the entanglement of gender and colonialism has been ignored in the Portuguese case. Hence, this book takes a long view, surveying mostly little known historical and literary records that evince how "women" and "colonialism" were discursively constructed at particular points in time in view of a colonialist project that became the reason for being of the fascist authoritarian regime (1933-1974). A cultural studies approach of radical contextualization informs each of the five main chapters, in which documents from a range of disciplines are brought to bear on the main problematic of the female-authored works in focus. The latter are all written in the metropole as a place of colonial return and critical reflection. Beyond recuperating women's voices, this book suggests a story of Portuguese colonialism in the African continent that is anything but Lusotropicalist.

“This book tackles the important but much neglected issue of the entanglement of gender and Portuguese colonialism. It is an outstanding study: authoritative, remarkably well researched and beautifully written. The chapters present an elegant mix of literary interpretation and historical fact, leading to the production of a new and much needed synthesis of otherwise disparate material."
Ana Margarida Dias Martins, University of Exeter

Author Information

Ana Paula Ferreira is a Professor of Portuguese Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1 Women’s Education, Nation and Late Empire25
Liberalism, Civilization and the Education of Women: Excluding Women from Politics29
The Uneducated Bourgeois Woman as Symptom of National Decadence33
Feminist Defenses of Women’s Education and Republican Nationalism44
2 Colonial Literature and Women: Variations on a Theme57
Colonial Propaganda and Women’s Difference59
“Good Homemakers” for the Imperial Nation63
The African Native Between Colonial Fetish and Anti-colonial Symptom72
The Authority of Feminine Experience: Women Writers for “Suffering Souls”80
3 “Making Empire Respectable”: Between Miscegenation and Lusotropicalism89
I. From Complicity to Opposition92
Fleeing National Decadence: The Conversion Narratives of Maria Lamas92
The “Problem” of Miscegenation in the Portuguese Colonies96
Maria Archer’s Miscegenation Melodramas100
II. From Lusotropicalism to Anti-colonialism103
Gilberto Freyre’s Modern Thinking on “Race” for an Outmoded Colonialism103
Maria da Graça Freire’s Cautionary Tale of Lusotropicalism106
Maria Archer in Brazil: Turning Imperial Propaganda Against Colonialism111
4 The Coloniality of Gender and the Colonial War119
Women and the Colonial War123
New Portuguese Letters and the Coloniality of Gender129
Testifying to the Trauma of the Colonial War134
Post-colonial Reflections on the Instrumentalization of “Love”140
5 Lusotropicalist Entanglements in the Post-colonial Metropole151
I. “Racists are the Others”?154
II. Feminist Stories of Racial Entanglement160
What’s in a Name? Intertextuality as Mnemonic Device160
A Social Contract of Exclusions164
Calling It Like It Is: Racial Apartheid167
III. The Untold Stories of EXPO ’98172
Works Cited185