Accepted Paper:

A family affair: memory, postmemory, and the online afterlife of the Portuguese colonial wars  

Author:

Maria José Lobo Antunes (Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the mnemonic processes centred in online communities dedicated to the Portuguese colonial wars, and examines the interplay between memory and postmemory of a disputed past.

Paper long abstract:

Between 1961 and 1974, Portugal sent nearly one million men to Africa. Conscripts and regulars were drafted to Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, to fight wars that were never officially declared. The Carnation Revolution brought an end to both the authoritarian regime and the empire, and silence over the past followed. Lacking an official politics of memory, contrasting discourses on the Portuguese colonial past have emerged. Four decades later, it is still a territory of contested meaning.

This paper examines the interplay between memory and postmemory in online veterans' communities. Drawing from ethnographic observation in facebook groups dedicated to the Portuguese colonial wars, it will be argued that social media provides an unprecedented opportunity for engaging with a disputed past. Wide-ranging and inclusive, facebook groups gather all those who are interested in a common historical time: veterans and their children, settlers and their families. We will explore how contemporary evocation of people's pasts is articulated with discussions on issues of morality, war and colonialism. We will discuss the way stories and photographs are shared, how information on people and events is exchanged, and how war's reverberation is prospectively organised towards the future.

Panel P043
Temporalities of the past: moments, memories, and futures in the making