Theses defended

Memórias Virtuais: Representações Digitais da Guerra Colonial

Verónica Ferreira

Public Defence date
September 12, 2022
Doctoral Programme
Discourses: Culture, History and Society
António Sousa Ribeiro e Miguel Cardina
The study of public and common memory of historical events has been developing in the last decades of the 20th century, particularly dedicated to the study of the memory of traumatic events such as the Holocaust. In Portugal, these studies, of memories considered traumatic, have taken their first steps in themes such as the dictatorship of the Estado Novo or the memory of Portuguese colonialism. In this research, I was interested in addressing the public memory of the Colonial War - in which the Portuguese State participated as a dictatorial and colonialist regime. The research of the memory of the New State and the Colonial War until then had not contemplated the new social space that is constituted from the new digital media - such as the Internet - and, in this sense, I decided to start a first research that would fill part of this gap.

I decided, therefore, to initiate the study of the memory of the Colonial War on the Internet, namely in three platforms: 1) the blogs of former combatants; 2) the entries dedicated to the conflict in Portuguese Wikipedia; and 3) the public Facebook pages and groups that somehow address the memory of the conflict. I aimed to understand what similarities and what ruptures mark this new social mnemonic space. The research I developed in the last five years had as a central objective to understand the dynamics of creation and production of memories and which historical narratives are more present in these digital platforms. Thus, and in short, I saw the digital medium as a space of (re)creation, dissemination and sharing of narratives and social representations about the Colonial War. The research intended to answer two main questions: 1) which narratives are (re)constructed in digital media about the Colonial War; 2) in which way (how) and to which extent (how much) the digital media shapes the memorial narratives about the Colonial War. In fact, I intended, at the same time, to understand the reasons given by the producers of this content to enunciate and disseminate these narratives through the Internet, and what kind of relationship is established between digital narratives and the narratives circulating in other media. In doing so, I realized that communities are being formed, especially among users of blogs and Facebook pages, based on the sharing of common experiences. And, finally, what digital mnemonic relations are established between individuals within and outside belonging groups (community dimension and individual dimension), i.e., what relation do the memories produced in digital media have with the remaining social representations of the war, i.e., what relation do digital memories (their production and negotiation processes) have with the dominant social representations of the Colonial War and the existing historiographical consensuses?

To understand the process of production and construction of memories in digital environment it was important to consider the interaction between digital environment and the construction of individual and collective memories of former combatants outside platforms, placing them in a broader historical, economic, and political context and influenced by narratives already present in the social environment in which these men move. Concomitantly, I took into account the existing academic production on the Colonial War in order to put into perspective the narratives explored in a virtual context, exploring silences and absences. To this end, it was important to make a critical survey of the evolution of the memory of the Colonial War in the various digital platforms and to analyse the representations of the war and the memorial narratives present in blogs and collective/associative Facebook pages. The research also had the collaboration of former combatants who write for the largest blog of Colonial War veterans in Portuguese language - the blog Luís Graça e Camaradas da Guiné - who agreed to be interviewed both as producers of digital content and as former combatants. The objective was to compare their narratives with the narratives constructed outside the virtual medium, as well as to question the producers about the reasons for using this medium as a space of enunciation.

Keywords: digital memories, Wikipedia, blogs, Facebook, colonial war, discourses