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Accepted Paper:

De-colonial aesthetics: violence and political sensibilities in the late Portuguese Empire  
Caio Araújo (Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper interrogates the politics of violence and aesthetics in late Portuguese colonialism in Africa, particularly Mozambique. I argue that aesthetics was a privileged field in which colonial hegemony and de-colonial contestation were negotiated and political sensibilities were re-assembled.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will interrogate the associations between conflict, violence, politics and aesthetics in late Portuguese colonial rule in Southern Africa, with special focus on Mozambique. Drawing on critical attempts to foster a deeper articulation of both ethnography and the historical imagination and anthropology and aesthetics, I will look at how arts, literature and aesthetical modes of political engagement constituted a battlefield in which competing ideologies of benign colonization and colonial multiculturalism were contested, countered and challenged by de-colonizing political sensibilities mobilized, primarily, in an aesthetical form. In this paper, thus, I will look at how aesthetics were in the forefront of a cultural politics of colonial hegemony and de-colonial contestation, and particularly how both colonial and anti-colonial violence were hidden, legitimated and revealed in aesthetical forms. I will explore how these complex and aesthetically mediated indentitarian cartographies had a central and critical role in politically articulating a set of emerging tensions and disjunctions against an Empire whose official rhetoric tended to be, majorly, a-political but deeply "culturalistic". By examining the relations between power and aesthetics in the multiple contact zones of late colonialism, I will highlight the important role of "artists" and the "art work" in engendering a politics of counter-imagination and assembling contestatory political sensibilities. I will demonstrate how these de-colonial voices mobilized the "political aesthetic" of anti-colonial violence as a liminal moment between the cultural politics of proto-nationalism and the violent, war-mediated, decolonization, thus contributing to the formation of de-colonial subjectivities.

Panel P34
Aesthetics, politics, conflict
  Session 1