The ‘other’ in images from the Portuguese Colonial War: trauma and memory

Clara Caldeira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses the construction of the ‘other’ in photographs of the Portuguese Colonial War and its relation with the traumatic memory of the conflict and coloniality itself. Political and cultural dimensions associated with this particular context of the relation with the ‘other’ – interracial violence, the ideological frame of the Portuguese colonial regime influenced by Luso-tropicalism, and the experience of these contradictions in a war situation – constitute traumatic memories that have been made silent and socially invisible after the transition to a democratic and non-colonialist regime. This article wishes to critically revisit images kept in private collections owned by Portuguese soldiers, where the ‘other’ is represented as the violent and primitive enemy as well as the gentle colonized ally and object of the social action of the troops. It intends to explore the conditions of production of those photographs, their performative materiality, their political use at the time, and the cultural matrices that frame them. The article is grounded in the idea of photography as mediator of postmemory, fundamental for the negotiation of meanings and the cultural integration of the trauma related to the colonial experience and its ambiguities, into the individual and collective representation of the war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-182
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024


  • Memory
  • Portuguese Colonial War
  • Vernacular photography


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