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CROME Report Summary

Project ID: 715593
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CROME (Crossed Memories, Politics of Silence: The Colonial-Liberation Wars in Postcolonial Times)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

CROME’s main objective is to produce a history of the memory of the colonial-liberation wars fought by the Portuguese state and the pro-independence African movements. The key hypothesis is that wars, colonial legacies and anticolonial struggles have triggered memorialisation and silencing processes which have their own historicity, according to each country and social-political context.
Moored in the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies, CROME is divided into two strands: the first looks at the role of states in mobilising, articulating and recognising the past; the second strand highlights the uses of the past and the dynamics between social and individual memories. The intersection of both strands will allow the problematising of the historical role that states, societies and individuals have played in terms of generating ‘strong memories’ and ‘weak memories’, and to identify how the memory of this major historical event has been historicised over the last forty years.
The project was designed to identify how the war reverberated in distinct times and spaces but it will also look at the entanglements between the former metropolis and the former colonies: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and S. Tomé and Príncipe. To build this analysis, CROME draws upon different sources - written, oral and visual - as well as combines different instances of memory production.
Three main challenges drive the project. The first challenge is that of re-thinking the colonial-liberation wars from both a diachronic and comparative perspective. The second one refers to the operationalisation of the concept of ‘politics of silence’, understood as a set of political, social, discursive and subjective mechanisms which contribute to form selective representations of the past. Finally, CROME aims to examine the processes of memory historicisation and bring about conceptual frameworks able to analyse them.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The progress accomplished by CROME in the first 18 months of its implementation reflect the dynamic dynamism of the research team, the efficient support provided by the Host Institution and the cooperation granted by the group of academics and institutions with whom the project established some kind of collaboration, in Portugal but also in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and San Tomé and Príncipe.

The recruitment of the team members before the actual beginning of the project enabled the settlement of the team in Coimbra and the start of the research activities from day one. The first months were devoted to theoretical consolidation, methodological training and project management activities related to the creation of the visual identity of the project. This included setting up a strategy and tools for the communication and dissemination of the work by the team. The project created a Facebook page account (facebook.com/crome.ces) to disseminate its activities and events, and the project website (crome.ces.uc.pt) was launched by the end of the project´s first year.

The priority established for the first months was framing the theoretical, contextual and methodological range of the project. While this work was taking place, an overview of the tasks and objectives to be addressed in first place became clear. In February 2017, the project was presented in two events, both in Europe and Africa. In Portugal, in the CROME-MEMOIRS Conference delivered by Benjamin Stora (Université Paris-XIII) at the Auditório CIUL in Lisboa, on 10 February 2017. In Africa, Cape Verde was the chosen country, taking advantage of the International Colloquium ‘War, Memory and Colonialism: History and Legacies’ that the project had been organising with local partners: the Cátedra Amílcar Cabral and Laboratório de Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais. This Colloquium was held at the Cátedra Amílcar Cabral, in Praia, on 23 and 24 February 2017. After this first mission to Cape Verde (February 2017), the researchers initiated the preparation of their first fieldwork missions to Africa, that took place in the Fall 2017 (Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Angola). In the following year, the missions were extended to Cape Verde (March 2018) and São Tomé and Príncipe (July 2018). The first fieldwork missions were an opportunity to identify and meet key actors and experts who may facilitate the fieldwork development in the following years, establish partnerships with local organizations and collect research data. Some exploratory interviews with academics, memory producers or former combatants were also made. The previous work experience and contacts between some team members and colleagues led to the organization of some events with local entities in the first period. The project took advantage of these opportunities to capitalize its promotion in the academic and public contexts of these African countries and create a network with local partners and entities which will be essential for the development of the project working plan and goals.

In June 2018, the project published its first main output, a collaborative book co-authored by 51 academics. The book titled ‘As Voltas do Passado. A Guerra Colonial e as Lutas de Libertação’ (org. Miguel Cardina and Bruno Sena Martins and edited by Tinta-da-China) is a compilation of 47 short articles that offer an overview of how important dates related to the colonial-liberation wars have been remembered over the last decades. This book aimed to anchor the importance of the project in the current debates over the memory of the Colonial War/Liberation Struggles and Portuguese Empire, by lighting up a number of questions from the academic arena to the public space. In this sense, the editors challenged the 51 co-authors to write short texts, freeing these entries from most academic jargon in order to make them more accessible for the general public. So far, the book was launched in Portugal (Coimbr

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

CROME will develop an innovative input into Afro-Portuguese War studies. It will bring the comparative dimension to the forefront, by setting to write an unprecedented history of the Afro-Portuguese war memories. CROME will offer an innovative contribution to the conceptual and epistemological discussions taking place in the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies about the relationship between social and individual memories; about memory and (inter)subjectivity; about building war memories (and silencing processes) and the role played by formats such as social media in generating new historiographical sources.
The approach to academic impact will encompass the organization of seminars, advanced training courses, conferences and the presentations of the project findings in international and/or national conferences, as well as publish its findings in different academic outlets.
A documentary film will also be produced to disseminate the results of the project and the research work carried out. The documentary film will gather shots of the interviews to be made during the project and will focus on how war memories are built against the diverse national backgrounds, assessing the intensity of both evocation and silencing and the role played by historical cleavages in remembering processes and in establishing what is said and unsaid, forgotten or celebrated, valued or belittled.

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