Portuguese post-colonialism is studied in Germany

Portuguese postcolonialism is one of the topics addressed in the master’s degree of ‘Global History’, carried out by the Free University of Berlin, an issue not addressed in the German educational institutions.

Christoph Kalter, an investigator and guest professor at the Free University of Berlin has admitted that Germans generally know “very little of the history of Portugal.”

“The period of the discoveries may be the best known, but the most recent history of the twentieth century, the Estado Novo, the 25th of April and post-colonialism are very little present,” said the professor, adding that interest grows up.

Kalter said he believed that in the last ten to fifteen years there was “a new and growing interest in Germany for its own history of colonialism.” But also by the theme in a “more general” way, the researcher emphasized, “how colonialism continues to influence society,” in the way “migration, the role of racism in Germany” is dealt with.

“These themes are perhaps common with those that have appeared in Portuguese public space, so I believe there is a greater interest in studying the history of Portugal here in Germany,” said the professor, also pointing to tourism as a motive.

“In 2017, six million people visited Lisbon and a large part of that number was of German nationality. For some of these tourists, there may also be interest in knowing the history of Portugal,” said Christoph Kalter, a specialist in the French and Portuguese history of the century XX in a perspective of global history.

Christoph Kalter is currently developing the research work under the name “Postcolonial People?”, “Migration, and Decolonization in Portugal” (Postcolonial People? Returned, Migration and Decolonization in Portugal, in translation by the author).

“Before starting my current research project on so-called returnees, I had no connection to Portugal, nor to the former Portuguese colonies, nor to any family ties or Portuguese-speaking friends. professional or academic interest “said the German professor.

He decided to study the period of history linked to the returnees after finishing his doctorate, on the French history of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

“There was a very important event in the war in Algeria in 1962. After eight terrible years of extreme violence, the war ended the independence of this French colony. From Algeria almost a million French settlers arrived in France, “I was fascinated by the idea of uprooted settlers, those people who are French, but different from the French in the metropolis,” explained Christoph Kalter.

“This is how I discovered that, 13 years later, something very similar happened in Portugal, with the departure of half a million Portuguese from the former colonies. I decided that this was a theme that I wanted to work on, and for that, I had to learn Portuguese for my research, “said the researcher, who began studying the language in 2011, at a course at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon.

At the Free University of Berlin, he teaches Portuguese history in the context of the master’s program in Global History. All classes are given in English.

“Many of them come from lands that have been marked by imperial domination,” explained Christoph Kalter. “It’s easier to approach Portuguese history on several levels.” More than half of the students come from other countries, there are a diversity of origins and academic backgrounds.

The university professor has tried that the theme gains more protagonism in the Free University of Berlin.

“In the last semester, for example, I organized a study trip to Lisbon.” We were a group of 14 students from ten different nationalities: “Post-Imperial Capital – Lisbon and the Portuguese Empire” and Portuguese colonialism.) It was fantastic, “said Christoph Kalter, adding that the program included workshops with Portuguese academics and activists and several guided tours.

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