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“The Retornados Speak: The Politics of (Non)Belonging Confront Portugal’s Reimagined National Identity”
April 6, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
About the presentation: In the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, from May 1974 until the late 1970s, over half a million Portuguese citizens were forced to leave Portugal’s ex-African territories as refugees – they are known as retornados. The great majority was forced to leave their homes between the months of June and November of 1975. Upon arriving via air-bridge in a country many had never known, the retornados were forced to rebuild a life in a political chaotic atmosphere. Portugal was transitioning from 48 years of a dictatorship to what at the time was nothing more than an uncertain future, as the various parties argued over what political identity Portugal would embrace. The stigma associated with being a retornado meant most of their experiences were silenced and most of their narratives were put away in a drawer together with pictures and mementos from their lives in the African continent. Thirty years later, a plethora of narratives, from diaries to autobiographies, short-stories to novels, documentaries to TV mini-series, began to confront a self-imposed collective amnesia, that Portugal had experienced for over two decades. I argue that an examination of the heterogeneous voices of the retornado narratives is key to understand and contest Portugal’s reimagined formulation of its contemporary national identity. It also affords us an opportunity to defy a postcolonial narrative that seeks to absolve Portugal from its exploitative and oppressive colonial past and to question the problematic public discourse of Lusophonia.
Presented by: Ana Catarina Teixeira, Director of the Portuguese Program at Emory University, Georgia.
You can also view the lecture virtually via Zoom. REGISTER HERE to join.