Collective Memories of Portuguese Colonial Action in Africa: Representations of the Colonial Past among Mozambicans and Portuguese Youths


  • Rosa Cabecinhas University of Minho
  • João Feijó



Social representations of the colonization and decolonization processes among young people from a former European colonial power (Portugal) and from an African ex-colony (Mozambique) were investigated through surveys using open- and closed-ended questions about national history, focusing on the identity functions of collective memories. Hegemonic and contested representations were found of the most prominent events related to Portuguese colonization of Mozambique, arousing a range of collective emotions. A central place is occupied by memories of the Colonial War, which ended with the Carnation Revolution in Portugal and the subsequent independence of the Portuguese African colonies. Overall, the depiction of colonialism was more negative for Mozambican than for Portuguese participants. The violent effects of colonial action were very salient in Mozambican memories, which stressed the most oppressive aspects of the colonial period, associated with slave trade and brutal repression. On the Portuguese side, the idealization of the voyages of discovery persisted, obscuring the most violent effects of colonial expansion. However, collective memories of colonization of former colonizer and former colonized do not simply stand opposed. Both Mozambican and Portuguese participants reported ambivalent feelings towards the colonization process.

Author Biography

Rosa Cabecinhas, University of Minho

Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences of the University of Minho, Portugal. Her research interests include intercultural communication, collective memory, social representations, social identity, gender and ethnicity.


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