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The article ‘Collective Memories of Portuguese Colonial Action in Africa: Representations of the Colonial Past among Mozambicans and Portuguese Youths’ by Rosa Cabecinhas and João Feijó that was published in the International Journal of Conflict and violence journal, volume 4, issue 1 on from page 28-44 in 2010 is one of the most important articles that has examined the impact of colonial rule of some of African nations and in this case, Mozambique. One of the aspects that are explored in this article is the social representation during the colonization and decolonization processes among young people. In this respect, the article focused on gathering information and data regarding this by carrying out surveys based on collective memories.
To begin with, Cabecinhas & Feijó (2010) focused on the relationship that existed between the Portuguese colonizers and the Mozambique nationals from the African background. Arguably, these Portuguese were less harsh toward the Africans and were more willing to mix with other the African and other races in Mozambique. In this respect, they are termed as more emphatic as compared to the Spanish and the British colonizers in other countries. Nonetheless, the article argues that the statutes under which the Africans were ruled in Mozambique promoted more of a slavery environment rather than conditions that were concerned with human values. In line with this, it is affirmed that when history was written on the long walk to freedom by this country, there is an emphasis on the African struggle for freedom from colonial rules as well as the widespread use of the mass media, and other means that could enable mobilization of individuals to fight for freedom.
Apart from this, the article also focused on the impact of colonialism on the social identity of the Mozambique people. Following this, most of the issues which were discussed in the article revolve around the perception of people as has been shaped by the struggle for independence, and the revolution that was brought about by this process. For instance, it was reported in the article that Mozambique socially identified itself with Portugal as compared to how Portugal identified itself with Mozambique. On the other hand, the article examines the experience of Portugal as a colony of Spain. From this perspective, there was little attachment of Portugal to Spain as one of the most important player in shaping the history of Portugal.
There are various important issues that are unearthed from this article. Firstly, it is important to understand that social representation in Mozambique was particularly shaped by Portugal. More important is the fact that there is little recorded historical facts about Mozambique that exist and as a result, most people in the national perceive or rather view their social representation with Portugal being pegged as part of its background. In other words, Portugal is an important pillar when referring to the historical and current social representation of Mozambique. Furthermore, Mozambique as a country has remained with an attachment to Portugal irrespective of the fact that this country struggled to gain freedom from Portugal. This attached is in form of both positive and negative memories of the relationship between the Portuguese and the locals. For instance, it is argued that the Mozambique nationals have memories of the slavery conditions that they were exposed to by the Portuguese during the colonial period.
It is also important to note that the ability of the participants in the survey that was carried out to remember how their national history is linked to another country portrays the impact that these countries had on each other and in particular on the citizens respectively. In this regard, it can be argued that the colonization and decolonization of Mozambique had a greater impact on the Mozambique people as compared to the Portuguese nationals. Note that the Portuguese students who were participated in the survey remembered few negative events from the colonial period as compared to the Mozambique student participants. Therefore, to the Portuguese, the colonial period had little impact in shaping their history as compared to the Mozambique nationals who perceived the colonial period as one of the most periods in their history and in shaping the political, social and economic structures.
However, it is important to understand that both the colony and the colonial power agree that there were atrocities that were committed against Mozambique by the Portuguese. With this in mind, these results reveal that the Portuguese could accept their collective responsibility in their role towards shaping the destiny of most Mozambique nationals. Note that most colonial powers have often refuted the idea that their actions towards their colonies were brutal and critically affected them both emotionally and socially. However, such sentiments from Portuguese students indicate that they understood that their country had committed evil against Mozambique.
There are several weaknesses that arise from examining the article. To begin with, the collection of information and data for this article has some weak points. Note that the data that was collected for survey in this case was collected from university and college students. It is important to note that most of these students were born after the independence of Mozambique or were very young at the time when the country obtained its independence. In this respect, their answers to questions that were asked during the survey are based on historical narratives from the parents and grandparents, history books and what they had generally learned in the course of their studies. Therefore, their answers were less accurate especially in terms of their emotional feelings towards the colony and the colonial power respectively. This could have been alleviated if the surveys were carried among respondents from an older generation; i.e. from those who directly experienced the wave of fighting for freedom and decolonization process. On the contrary, the Portuguese respondents were very young and no one from this generation experienced the colonization and decolonization process of Portugal. Therefore, the experiences and the answers they gave were based more on what they have heard before, what they have learned and in some cases on heresies.
There is also a need to expound on the scope of the study, to not only look at the consequences of colonization and decolonization but also on its benefits. Note that the major part of this article focused on the negative consequences of colonization and decolonization process on both countries. However, as is noted at the end of the article, some of the Mozambique students were inconsistent in their answers and cited both positive and negative consequences of this process.
Finally, future researches on the topic need to consider widening the scope on respondents. As it has been mentioned, the respondents who were considered for this research were students from universities and colleges from the two countries. However, most of them had no direct or rather first hand information on the issues but rather had information that they had gathered from books and what they had heard from their parents. Instead, adults, especially those who had witnessed the whole process and those who witnessed the aftermath of the process need to be included among the respondents. Furthermore, it was also important to widen the scope of the study to include both the positive and the negative aspects of the colonization and decolonization process.
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