De Escravos a Indígenas: o Longo Processo de Instrumentalização dos Africanos (Séculos XV-XX), which brings together a set of texts written over forty years and dispersed in publications of diverse nature, not always easily accessible, aims to contribute to a renewal of historiography on the relations between Portugal and Africa, in the specific field of the forms of instrumentalisation of Africans carried out by the Portuguese for almost five centuries. A long process, whose internal nature proved capable of metamorphosis and reconversion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ensuring the continuity of the violent ‘use’ of African populations, resorting to a new classificatory apparatus – savages, indigenous, assimilated – aimed at keeping Africans within the sphere of Portuguese domination, contributing to legitimising their enslavement and fixing distorting interpretations of History.
If a first line of study aims to review the history of slavery and slave trafficking and their ideologies in spaces of Portuguese ‘occupation’ like Angola, a second line of study privileges iconographic documents as historical sources, emphasizing their historical and informative dimension. Finally, the third line of this study seeks to highlight the evolution of the process of Portuguese instrumentalisation of Africans, which resorts to unprecedented classificatory categories – savage, indigenous, assimilated – and to practices that emerge from the slave labour of the past to ensure the colonial exploitation of African populations.
Value judgments, commodification, objectification, exploitation, ridiculing of African men fabricated Portuguese imaginaries that reduced the black/African to slavery, the savage/indigenous to lazy, thieving and drunk, the assimilated/’civilised’ to a ridiculous and negative copy of the white/Portuguese, enshrining the inferiorization of Africans, and in the same movement, glorifying the Portuguese ‘race’, hierarchizing the humanities and valuing the dimension and nature of the Portuguese actions, first slave-owning and then colonialist, that have left their mark on Portuguese society to this day.
Henriques, Isabel C., De Escravos a Indígenas: o Longo Processo de Instrumentalização dos Africanos (Séculos XV-XX), Lisboa, Ed. Caleidoscópio, 2019.
In História de São Tomé e Príncipe: da descoberta a meados do século XIX, the author explains how the Portuguese navigators arrived on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe in the third quarter of the fifteenth century and transformed them into a social context for their development, but in which human and institutional relations were complex and even unbearable for the most disadvantaged, particularly on the island of São Tomé. Conflicts of all kinds worsened, particularly after the transition from a residential to a plantation society, with the intensification of the slave trade and the production and export of sugar. The long distance of the islands from the central power, located in Lisbon, constituted an ingredient that favoured the fomentation of conflicts in which the disrespect for the established rules was permanent and maintained during the period of domination of the native elite since the 17th century, marked around the main families that disputed access to power and control of wealth. The author shows that, despite its harshness, the colonial slave model had dynamics of social mobility that allowed some enslaved people to become free and others to become powerful in economic and political terms, even during the 16th century, becoming dominant until the mid-19th century.
Espírito Santo, A. (2021). História de São Tomé e Príncipe: da descoberta a meados do século XIX. Lisboa: Edições Colibri.
Lisbon, a city of as many valleys and hills as there are myths surrounding its history and the people who invented it, stretches along the Tagus, where the river ends its course through Iberian land and plunges into the Atlantic Ocean. Lisbon was born on the hill of São Jorge Castle, where a Bronze Age settlement left its traces, which crossed with many other marks engraved by Greeks, Phoenicians, Lusitanians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Jews and Christians. A long road of people and cultures, of stories and legends, of gods and heroes who, like Ulysses the mythical founder of the city – Olisipo – which owes its name to him, built and rebuilt this urban space. The aim of Historical Guide to an African Lisbon, XV-XXI Century is to show Lisbon’s Africanness, dispersed in a plurality of memories and immaterial and invisible traces in the days in which we live. History tells us about the settlement and life of thousands of Africans who for centuries took part in the process of building the Portuguese national fact. Travelling through the city, armed with historical knowledge, we are surprised by the vigorous African presence that invaded all spaces of Lisbon society, we reconstruct a hidden Lisbon, submerged by a centuries-old prejudice that still dominates our collective imagination and we understand, with greater clarity, not only behaviours, values, practices that remain in urban daily life, but also the constant reinventions of Portuguese and African identities, present in the country.
Castro Henriques, I. (2021). « Historical Guide to an African Lisbon, XV-XXI Century», versão revista e actualizada, Lisboa, Edições Colibri, 2021.
As (im) pertinências do método. Metodologia participativa e o estudo sobre a Afrodescendência em Portugal
The announcement of the Decade of African Descendants (2015-2024) by the UN, drew attention to the presence of African descendants in Europe, including in Portugal, as part of the contemporary social configuration of the continent. However, the focus on these people has been sustained, above all, in theories and representations of subalternity and exclusion that do not recognize them as new political subjects in a Europe that is no longer black and white. These politically hybrid subjects, in the historical and cultural sense, bring theoretical-epistemological and methodological challenges to the social sciences, since their visions, paradigms and ways of living escape the traditional lenses of the approaches that associate them with immigrants or refugees. We propose that in approaching the subject of Afrodescendence, method is central and determinant of the outcomes, ethical function and meaning of social research on emerging contemporary subjects. We argue in favour of participatory methodology, reflecting on its pertinence in a context where the people in the researched situation are critical subjects in their fields of intervention/action who reject being reduced to mere objects of study. We analyse the processes of negotiation in the field concluding on the contribution of this project to the dialogue between academics and the afrodescendant collectives. As (im)pertinências do método. Metodologia participativa e o estudo sobre a Afrodescendência em Portugal is inserted in the debate on the democratization of knowledge, sustained, in particular, by critical perspectives that are based on studies on emerging contemporary subjects.
Évora, Iolanda. “As (im)pertinências do método. Metodologia participativa e o estudo sobre a Afrodescendência em Portugal”, In: Yao, Jean-Arséne, Victorien Lavou Zoungbo et Luis Mancha San Esteban, eds. Forthcoming. Representations collectives croisées: Afriques, Amériques et Caraibes. Xix-xxi siècles. III GRELAT. Actas do Colóquio. Madrid: UAH Editora, 167-176. ISBN:978-84-18254-12-3.