Exploring a strained history
Professor Francisco Bethencourt, Charles Boxer Chair at the King’s Historydepartment will be curating an exhibition exploring the relationship between racism and citizenship over more than five centuries, from 1497 to the present. The exhibition, which is being held at the Padrao dos Descobrimentos gallery in Lisbon between 6th May and 3rd September 2017 aims to encourage the public to question past and present relations between peoples, combining emigration with immigration, exclusion and integration, lack of rights and access to citizenship.
Focusing on the Portuguese case
‘The challenge was to transform a global research, which already had a strong basis of images, into an exhibition focused on the Portuguese case. I decided to reflect on the permanent tension between racism and citizenship, exclusion and integration, looking at five centuries, from the late fifteenth century to the present. Citizenship was asserted as a universal value after the democratic revolution of 1974 in Portugal and the independence of the African countries in 1975’, says Professor Bethencourt.
A rich tapestry of visual culture
On display will be an evolving visual culture viewed through paintings, sculptures, engravings, posters, ceramics, chains, manilas, books, comic books, photographs and videos. The collection will reflect on historical processes of the segregation of minorities in Portugal and the discrimination of natives in the colonial world. ‘The emergence of the notion of citizenship after the independence led to new visual work by Portuguese and Africans artists, who used colonial memory to build their visual reflection on postcolonial identity’, says Professor Bethencourt.
Visualising a historical struggle
The historical period under consideration covers episodes of Muslim expulsion, the forced conversion of Jewish people, the slave trade, the colonization of territories in Africa, America and Asia, the abolition of slavery, decolonization and immigration. ‘Forced labour in the colonial world was shown through photographs and post cards, while derision of African people in Portugal was visible through comic books, publicity and ceramics’, says Professor Bethencourt. He is also working on a documentary in this context, supported by the King’s Cultural institute.
Not in Lisbon? Explore the exhibition online at http://www.racisms.org