Ⓒ Rodrigo Oliveira | Corolário de fenónemos | 2018 [cortesia do artista]



MEMOIRS will offer a radical, alternative and innovative vision of contemporary European history, drawing on the colonial legacies. The innovative character of the project arises from its fundamental research question: what is the impact on the continent today of transferred memories of the twilight that accompanied the demise of European colonialism?

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 – Congo, 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.


MEMOIRS is conducting a series of coordinated interviews with the descendants of the generation involved in and affected by the decolonization processes of colonies held by France, Portugal and Belgium in Africa. It also analyses artistic representations by the children of empire as public displays of intergenerational memory. The artistic areas under analysis are: visual arts, cinema, literature and performing arts. To deal with the full complexity of its central question, the scope of the project is interdisciplinary, bringing together specialists in literary and cultural studies, history, sociology, anthropology, the arts and international relations and institutional partners such as universities, but also museums, associations, theaters, cultural festivals, cinemas, municipal authorities and schools.


Margarida Calafate Ribeiro
Europe: Hidden Inheritances
António Pinto Ribeiro
Artists in time of Postmemory
António Sousa Ribeiro
Contemporary Routes. Constellations of Memory in Postcolonial Contexts
Paulo de Medeiros
Postimperial Europe

Research project with several phases (2018-2021) and with sub-projects encompassing various activities (conference talks, organisation of special journal issues and volumes of essays as well as a workshop and a monograph, of which the following are part of MEMOIRS): editing a special issue of Journal of Romance Studies (Print ISSN: 1473-3536 Online ISSN: 1752-2331) on “Memory, Trauma, Politics: A Lusophone Triangulation) - in progress; Monograph on Lusophone Film and Postimperial Memory; Participation in the international network Postcolonial Intelectuals in Europe

Roberto Vecchi
Ghosts of no return: Portugal and the colonial nostalgia

This research focuses on the constellation around topics such as melancholy, saudade and nostalgia for the African experience of the late Portuguese colonial period as mediators of contemporary memory, whose reflections are particularly apparent in the literature, cinema, the arts and leave their own imprint on contemporary Portuguese cultural productions. One of the relevant aspects of the construction of a community memory conditioned by the mediation of a colonial nostalgia is represented by the political reuse of these legacies of memory as well as by the market strategies with which they are articulated.

Fátima Rodrigues
Reflect on postmemory from narratives of death

This project aims to identify, to understand and to compare meanings attributed to death in postmemory narratives in Portugal and France.

Felipe Cammaert
Fictional transmissions: postmemory and literature

This project seeks to analyse, within a selected corpus of works from Portugal, France and Belgium, the multiple ways of representing postmemory in literature. Amongst others, we will comment some issues such as the fictional reformulation in narratives about the end of colonial empires, the forms and variations in the transfer of memory during the decolonisation, as well as the construction of a paradigm belonging to postmemory through fiction. 

Fernanda Vilar
Portraits of peripheral post-memories

In this project I intend to investigate how does the peripheral urban art of three European capitals (Paris, Brussels and Lisbon) influence the history of imperialism in the conceptualization of Europe in the contemporary and globalized world, following a postmemory approach.

Hélia Santos
Colonial Paradoxes: memory, postmemory and forgetting in second generation narratives

Programme: Postcolonialism and Global Citizenship, CES/FEUC, University of Coimbra

Supervisor: António Sousa Ribeiro
My work focus on the familial and private processes that explain the transgenerational memories about the end of the Portuguese empire. I will explore the dynamics between memories performance and forgetting as they transit between generations. With this overall goal in mind, I will analyse interviews with descendants of families who came to Portugal with the Angolan independence in 1974/75 and compare the memories performance in families racialized as whites and as non-whites. I will analyse which memories are narrated and performed between generations, which mythologies, silences and forgetting are reproduced, looking in particular at the place ascertained to violence in those memories. My work draws on the field of Memory Studies, focusing on the forgetting and performativity of memory as analytical dimensions when analysing memory performance and transmission.


MEMOIRS is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (no. 648624) and is hosted at the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra.