MEMOIRS offers a radical vision of contemporary European history, interrogating the crucial role of its multiple colonial heritages. These legacies are a common factor in the identities of individual nation states across the continent. Among the different European colonial models, MEMOIRS analyses the overseas model of Portugal, Belgium and France, as crucial for an understanding of the modern-day continent.
The innovative character of the project expresses itself in its fundamental research question: what is the impact on the continent today of transferred memories of the twilight of European colonialism?
MEMOIRS aims to map out a new cartography of European memory, by reconceptualising the colonial heritage as a part of European identity and not as something to be ignored. We assume that the memories of those affected by the end of Europe’s empires and of those whom colonialism othered are a constitutive part of Europe, which implies an epistemic shift in the way we view the continent’s history and a reversal of historical and narrative paradigms.
MEMOIRS intends to contribute to promoting a greater sense of collective responsibility toward the past and the present.
MEMOIRS focuses on the intergenerational memories of the children and grandchildren of those involved in and affected by the decolonization processes in France’s, Portugal’s and Belgium’s colonies in Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe. Through interviews and comparative analysis of the cultures influenced by the postmemory of colonial wars and the end of empires, we interrogate Europe's postcolonial heritage. At the heart of the project is a desire to understand the challenge of living in postcolonial Europe, a multicultural society marked by strong, although often latent, residues of apparently forgotten empires.