The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Literatures and Cultures Colloquium presents José Pedro Monteiro, a researcher at the Centro de Estudos Socials - University of Coimbra, Portugal. José will be lecturing on late colonialism and debates on forced labor on January 17th from 2:20 PM-4:00 PM in Hagerty Hall room 255. Below is an abstract that provides an overview on the content that will be covered in his lecture.
After 1945, most European colonial empires underwent major political, social and economic transformations in order to cope with mounting pressures for decolonization. The Portuguese case was one (relative) exception. The juridical distinction between citizens and indígenas (natives) remained untouched. So did its political, economic, and social human effects. The 1928 Native Labor Code suffered no major revision, continuing to allow several modalities of forced labor, in which the colonial administrations played an important role. Therefore, as other colonial empires were wrestling with the concepts of ‘social welfare’, citizenship rights and even self-determination, the Portuguese officials continued to deal with a revealing fact: ‘native’ forced labor was the most contentious topic within colonial societies. As in the past, forced labor was also a crucial within the international denunciations regarding Portuguese colonialism. This presentation sheds light on the ways in which the ‘native’ labor question became a recurrent and central topic of the interaction between the Portuguese empire-state and several international and transnational actors, networks and institutions. Used as a fundamental aspect within international anti-colonial repertoires, ‘native’ labor was also a key instrument for the Portuguese officials and diplomats, being used in the efforts to strengthen the country’s legitimacy abroad after 1945. As this presentation shows, it was also pivotal in their efforts to reform the colonial modus operandi, process that entailed diverse consequences. These dynamics and related effects are still debated today, in a society learning how to reflect upon the colonial past that its present. This presentation will tackle this issue as well.