Indigenous colonial archives: micro-histories and comparisons

Principal Investigator:
Ricardo Roque

Team: Ângela Barreto Xavier, Catarina Madeira Santos, Luísa Coutinho, José Miguel Ferreira, Thiago Sapede.

Funding: FCT, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Referência PTDC/HAR- HIS/28577/2017)

This project aims to examine indigenous practices of production, accumulation, preservation, and circulation of Portuguese-language records and written documentation, in the context of local cultural practices and of colonial histories of encounter. It is a central hypothesis of this study that the shared histories of European – and particularly Portuguese – colonialism and indigenous societies need to be understood in relation to a proliferation of vernacular archival cultures, literacy, and writing practices, so far little explored. It asks how and why indigenous cultures of writing, literate mediation, and document curating come into being in the context of colonial interactions; how they look like in relation to both indigenous cultural repertories and forms of governmentality and to histories of colonization, trade, conquest, evangelization, and state administration; and it considers the ways through which the colonizers themselves could relate to these varied archival cultures over time. The research will translate these issues into a set of comparative micro-historical studies on the social life of indigenous colonial documents and their related political, ritual, and social uses amongst distinct communities in Portuguese Asia and Africa: village communities in rural South Asia (Goa); indigenous kindgoms (reinos) in island Southeast Asia (Timor); and African states (sobados) in central Angola.

Image: ANTT, Arquivo fotográfico da Companhia de Moçambique: Governo do Território de Manica e Sofala: Direcção dos Serviços de Estatistica e Propaganda: Fotografias do concelho da Beira: Fotografias da cidade da Beira. Source: Wikipedia commons.