Short Course WOMANART

This short course is a part of the dissemination activities organized by the project WOMANART (PTDC/ART – OUT/28051/2017). Throughout the four sessions, we intend to explore the way artists and critics elaborate on or interpret collective models that, in turn, are still present in current social and cultural debates. In the Portuguese context, the memory of the dictatorship cannot be separated from the decolonization process, given that it is widely exposed when looked at from the African point of view. Nowadays, the analysis of the collective memory around this political period, that was ‘textualized’ in different narratives, is a powerful tool to think through  current challenges when facing issues such as globalization, migrations, minority communities, cultural identity, collective memory and eurocentrism. This course asks participants to think about a set of artworks and texts so as to produce their own critical intervention around the proposed themes.

Call International Conference WOMANART

18th, 19th November 2021

CEHUM, University of Minho

Online and/or On-site sessions


Deadline for proposals: 31st May

Notification: 15th June

Full papers (selected articles for publication): 15th December


Registration fee: 30 € (no registration fee for UM students, researchers and professors).


The International Conference Womanart is an outreach activity within the context of the research project Womanart – Women, Arts and Dictatorship. Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese Speaking African Countries (PTDC/ART-OUT/28051/2017).

The aim of this conference is to promote the visibility of women artists from the 20th century in Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese speaking African countries, highlighting their contribution to literary and artistic canons.  We welcome proposals from a multidisciplinary perspective, focusing on the Portuguese speaking transnational universe. The proposed debate is intended to scrutinise the impact of women’s artistic creations under dictatorial regimes, problematising the history of literary and artistic histories, and exposing their silences, invisibility and marginalisation. We expect to contribute to a revision/ reframing of the canons by exploring contrasting or complementary case studies. We will also consider the ways dominant oppressive ideologies have reflected on women’s artistic practices and the forms of resistance/resilience they have engendered.

We accept submissions in the fields of literature, visual arts, film, documentary, theatre and performance, addressing, among others, the following topics and issues:

  1. What are the characteristics that frame the work of women artists as a reaction to a dominant authoritarian ideology, either as a symbolic system that reflects a given historical situation of domination, or as a system of values that configures a given reality?
  2. How do these artistic practices function as instrumental forms of denunciation of an oppressive system that has been imposed over several decades?
  3. What are the strategies used by art and literature to represent the political repression of the dictatorship, the colonial war and/or their historical silencing?
  4. How were issues of gender politics and feminism addressed/ manipulated/camouflaged?
  5. In what ways and by which means do the current generations of women artists revisit this particular historical moment through their art? Particularly in the face of other present day social and political challenges (emigration, exile, diaspora, …)?


WOMANART website:


Seminar cycle

The ongoing seminar cycle organised by the WomanArt project was designed as a means to convene experts working on the themes and topics covered by the project, in order to enlarge, update and appraise the results of the research developed by the team.  The seminar cycle also promotes awareness of the project both at the international level and among the national community working on related subjects.  So far, we have carried through 21 seminars with experts from several universities in Portugal, Brazil, USA and the United Kingdom. Outside the academia, we have also engaged in our debate a set of art curators, writers and artists, always focusing on women’s legacy as thinkers and producers of art works. The main subjects addressed in our seminar cycle have explored the overlapping of private and historical memory in documentaries, literature (poetry, prose and drama) and photography, looking back at the problematic legacy of the Portuguese and Brazilian dictatorships of the 20th century. The debate has equally considered the colonial dimension of the former. Several of the invited speakers also chose to highlight the history of women’s movements during these oppressive periods, or, alternatively, they have mapped women’s unequal access to means and opportunities under these regimes.             All the seminars in which we have secured the speakers’ consent  are available online, at the project’s site.

WOMANART SEMINAR #29 – Pamila Gupta (University of Witwatersrand)

ABSTRAC: In this presentation, I provide an overview of my recent book, Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography (Bloomsbury Academic 2019). My study of Portuguese decolonization is framed by five interconnected approaches. First, I approach the study of decolonization as simultaneously a historical event and an ethnographic moment, through different eyewitness accounts that access the experience of the transfer of state power. Second, I focus on the materiality of decolonization, one that involves the massive movement of people, ideas and things across vast oceanic and territorial spaces in a heightened manner and rapid time frame. My third area of research looks at the trauma of decolonization (both singly and doubly experienced for many), as something that has largely not been allowed to be articulated as a form of loss, especially for those minority communities caught between matrices of new and old power that I showcase in this book. Fourthly, this project of decolonization is one of writing post-national narratives that takes its cue from the analytic work and intertwined histories showcased in the book. My fifth (and last) area of intervention is to open up the kinds of source materials we use to access narratives of decolonization as different forms of seeing, thinking and writing about history. It is here that I juxtapose what I consider the visual, the lyrical and the visceral. As a way to illustrate these five distinct approaches to studying decolonization, I will showcase individual case studies drawn from specific body chapters.

Pamila Gupta is Professor at WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology from Columbia University. She has written on such varied topics as the monsoon; monuments, tiles and the colour blue for the Portuguese diaspora in South Africa; islandness in the Indian Ocean; tourism and heritage design in Goa; Goan fishermen and urban renovation in Mozambique; tailoring, photography and visual cultures in Zanzibar; and chick-lit and swimming pools in Johannesburg. She is the co-editor of Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean with Isabel Hofmeyr and Michael Pearson (UNISA, 2010). Her first monograph entitled The Relic State: St. Francis Xavier and the Politics of Ritual in Portuguese India was published by Manchester University Press (2014) and her second monograph entitled Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography was recently published with Bloomsbury Academic Press (2019).

WOMANART SEMINAR #27 – Alexandra Reza (Oxford University)

Where are the women?’ Gender, work and anti-colonial writing
I’m going to talk about my ongoing research into two journals, Présence Africaine, published in Paris from 1947, and Mensagem, published in Lisbon between 1948 and 1964. These journals offer a highly suggestive archive from which to bring forward women in (literary) anti-colonial histories. They render women partially-visible and draw attention to the divisions of labour that go into the production of literary work. In the context of the paucity of women authors at both journals in the 1950s and 1960s, I will discuss questions of historiography, archiving and the (non-representative) significance of existing women’s literary writing.