On translation, convergence and mnemonic entanglements: remembering World War II refugees in Twenty-First Century Portugal

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This paper discusses mediatized memories of the refugee presence in Portugal between 1933 and 1945 in conjunction with theoretical concerns regarding transcultural memory and memory transfer in the context of migratory phenomena. Due to its geographical location and its official politics of neutrality during World War II, Portugal came to play an essential role as country of transit and temporary exile for refugees seeking to escape Nazi persecution and war in Europe. After the outbreak of war and particularly the fall of France in the summer of 1940, thousands made their way through France and Spain to reach Portugal from where they eventually would leave for their final destinations overseas. While for a long time a rather neglected topic in academia and public memory, in recent years Portugal’s role before and during World War II has been the object of an increasing number of academic studies as well as expositions and artistic media of different sort. Through the analysis of Daniel Blaufuks’ interart-project Sob Céus Estranhos [Under strange skies] (2002/2007), Domingos Amaral’s novel Enquanto Salazar Dormia [While Salazar was sleeping] (2006) and João Canijo’s documentary Fantasia Lusitana [Lusitanian fantasy] (2010), the present paper examines the dense mnemonic fabric that informs the memory of the refugee presence in twenty-century Portugal. Embracing Astrid Erll’s notion of “transcultural memory” (2011), it draws on current debates within memory studies to advance the claim that migratory phenomena do not only challenge national and site-bound frameworks of remembrance but also require a reconceptualization of memory transfer and convergence. Accordingly, it suggests conceiving of memory from a “translational perspective” (Bachmann-Medick 2016) that shifts the focus from memory’s potential to reinforce a particular identity and self-image of a community to the internal translatedness of any supposedly discrete memory culture. Transcultural memory is not addressed on the level of transfer between communities or groups but rather as inherent quality of the analyzed memory media. In these mediatized memories, remembrance of the refugee presence emerges through translational processes of appropriation and remediation that transcend national, linguistic and cultural borders and converge different archives and memory traditions. Through the translational perspective, this paper thus aims to give visibility to the mnemonic entanglements of the memory of the refugee presence in Portugal, emphasizing how transcultural processes are essential for understanding how these mediatized memories work through the legacies of the past and implicate the refugee presence between 1933 and 1945 in the present.
Idioma originalEnglish
Número de páginas1
Estado da publicaçãoPublicado - 6 jul. 2021
EventoMemory Studies Association Annual Conference : Convergences” - University of Warsaw, Warsaw
Duração: 5 jul. 20219 jul. 2021


ConferênciaMemory Studies Association Annual Conference
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