Guedes Smiling Lion

SAH 2015

Post-War Mozambique, Western Legacies, and the Atlantic Ocean : Conferences

SAH 68th Annual Conference, Chicago (USA), April 15-19 2015

Session: Watery Networks

Friday 8:15-10:30 a.m. “Western Stage House” room



Since 1498, when Vasco da Gama passed the Cape of Good Hope and discovered the sea route to the East through the Indian Ocean, Portugal entered the trade with the region around the Zambesi river, in Mozambique. From that moment, across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans the Portuguese engaged in the New World slave trade: Prazos, Tsonga, Arabs and Swahili from Mozambique participated in the export of humans from the interior through Lourenço Marques to Brazil, Madagascar, and the sugar estates of the Indian Ocean Islands.

This essay analyzes the history of the contact between Mozambique and the Western world in the aftermath of World War II until 1974, year of independence and end of the Portuguese hegemony in the area. The paper shares neither the Eurocentric vision that has emphasized the heritage of colonialism in Mozambique’s cities, nor the myth of Portuguese Lusotropicalism, as described by Gilberto Freyre. The essay offers a new framework for understanding transnational networks between Mozambique, Portugal, and Brazil: the view of a reciprocal exchange and transfer of knowledge.

Portuguese, Brazilian, and Mozambican architectural cultures did not simply meet in the process of creolization. In the works of Mozambican architects as João Garizo do Carmo, or in the buildings of Portuguese Pancho Guedes and João José Tinoco, Western legacies, Brazilian modernism, and traditional African knowledge informed each other, mixing and emerging as renewed vital forces in developing and shaping post-war city, architecture, and culture. These interrelations reveal a new genealogy of history and connection.


For more information see the Society of Architectural Historians

This activity was part of Afrobridge, a research supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme