Accepted paper:

Glimpses and memory. Zanzibar, door of the Portuguese Indian Ocean


Maria João Castro (CHAM-NOVA FCSH-UAc)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this article is to map the Portuguese colonial presence on the island of Zanzibar from the 16th century to the ascendancy of the European empires in the partition of Africa in the 19th century, in a reflection that is drawn in the light of postcolonial studies.

Paper long abstract:

The aims of this article are twofold: to chart the Portuguese colonial presence in Zanzibar from the 16th century on and to map the growing influence of the European empires in the 19th century 'Scramble for Africa'. In the 16th century Zanzibar became the gateway to the Portuguese Indian Ocean when a trading post and a mission were established there. It was later conquered by the Sultanate of Oman in 1698, two hundred years after Vasco da Gama's arrival, but then during the 19th century it became an important stage for European imperial hegemony in a continent heavily affected by the experience of colonial domination. While the interweaving of the western powers' geopolitical and commercial interests was centred on Africa, Zanzibar became the biggest slave entrepôt in East Africa, a fact that led to the development of transnational lines of force that are now analysed in the light of postcolonial studies.

panel P32
History: foundations and current readings