Unfinished Business? Searching for Postcolonial Europe in the Blindspots and Racism and Citizenship Exhibitions in Copenhagen and Lisbon

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‘Unfinished business’ is a term that has long been used by Australian Aboriginal communities generally and Aboriginal scholars more specifically to address the legacies (or continuity?) of settler colonialism’s destructive influence on Aboriginal lives. But also on the barriers faced by Aborigines and others who push for non-Aboriginal Australia to recognise racism and discrimination as part of colonial and ‘postcolonial’ nation-building in Australia. Looking at the two exhibitions concerning Portuguese and Danish colonial relations through this prism invites similar reflections on postcolonial nation narration in Europe. While clearly the imperial-colonial histories of Denmark and Portugal are vastly different – as indeed are their postcolonial realities – what interests me in this paper is how the exhibitions stage a critique of prevalent conceptualisations of nationhood in the two countries. In other words, what interests me is the implied prevalent narratives which the exhibitions understand themselves as challenging. But I am equally interested in what are the (counter-)narratives offered by these exhibitions? While Blindspots can here be a taken-for-granted reference point, Racism and Citizenship is a smallish exhibition housed in the fascist monument to the discoveries erected in 1960 in Belem, Lisbon. A monument which survived (with surprising ease), the Portuguese transition from dictatorship to democracy (1974) and the collapse of the Portuguese African empire. Yet, the exhibition also details a much longer history of a ‘Black’ presence in Portugal (particularly Lisbon) dating back to the 1400s, while Blindspots is preoccupied with Danish history in the then Danish West Indies and less with the repercussions for Danish society (at home). It is these trajectories of sameness and difference, I am going to explore further in my paper.
Periode30 nov. 20171 dec. 2017
BegivenhedstitelUnfinished Histories
PlaceringKøbenhavn, Danmark
Grad af anerkendelseInternational