Show/hide main menu

Level 5

5AAH1024 The History of Portuguese-Speaking Africa 1960 to the Present

Credit value:15
Module convenor/tutorDr Katharina Oke
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 1,500 word formative essay, 3,000 word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pre 2019/20: 2 x 2,500 word essays (100%)

Pre-requisites: Knowledge of Portuguese is not essential

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years

This module offers students the chance to engage with a unique case study in postcolonial Africa, where decolonization was triggered not by a voluntary process but by guerrilla war. In 1961, as Belgium, Britain and France accelerated the decolonization of their African colonies, Portugal remained in the grip of the Salazar dictatorship. Moreover, Portugal’s fragile economy depended on the economic advantage gained though its colonial holdings. Mobilising a narrative based on Portugal’s longstanding relations with Africa, dating back to the 15th century, the Salazar government used the ideology of “lusotropicalism” to argue that its model of colonization was gentler than that of other nations, and refused to decolonise.

The module follows the ensuing guerrilla wars, with a particular focus on Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. And it then examines the legacy of these wars for subsequent postcolonial histories: the terrible civil wars of Angola and Mozambique, the subsequent rise of authoritarian kleptocracy in Angola, and of what has been labelled the world’s first “narco-state” in Guinea-Bissau, alongside what is said to be a “model African democracy” in Cape Verde.

The course assumes no prior knowledge and covers all of Lusophone Africa. The first 4 sessions look at the origins of the colonial war and its manifestations in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. The course then looks in turn at civil war in Angola and Mozambique; the separation of Cabo Verde from Guine-Bissau following the coup of Nino Vieira in 1980; the survival of the two island microstates of Cape Verde and Sao Tomé; the rise of the “kleptocracy” in Angola around the oil economy of the 2000s; and the emergence of Guinea-Bissau as the world’s first so-called “Narco-state”. A final session then looks at the connections between the wars of independence and the struggles of postcolonial Lusophone Africa.

Provisional teaching pattern

  1. Dictatorship and the colonies
  2. Nationalism and armed struggle
  3. The Carnation Revolution and the Road to Independence
  4. Violence and the Postcolonial State
  5. International Involvement in the Post-Independence Era
  6. Angola - From polarisation to hegemony
  7. Mozambique - From Civil War to Success Story... To Civil War?
  8. Guinea-Bissau - A narco state?
  9. Creole Islands and diaspora
  10. Culture and Identity in Lusophone Africa

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Batalha L and Carling, J (eds), Transnational Archipelago: Perspectives on Cape Verdean Migration and Diaspora (Amsterdam, 2008)

Chabal, P. (ed.): A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa  (London: C. Hurst, 1998)

Chabal, P and Vidal, N (eds.): Angola: The Weight of History (Oxford: OUP 2007)

Chabal, P and Green, T (eds.): Guinea-Bissau: Micro-State to “Narco-State” (London: C. Hurst, 2015)

Isaacman, A and Isaacman, B, Dams, Displacement and the Delusions of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013)

Oliveira, Ricardo Soares de: Magnificent and beggar Land: Angola Since the End of the Civil War (London: C. Hurst, 2015)

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454