The Empire's African Cycle: Colonialism, War and Decolonisation in Contemporary Portugal


a) Acquire an overview of the last stage of Portugal’s overseas expansion – the ‘African empire’ (c. 1890-1975) - and make sense of its historical legacies b) Understand the various influences that shaped the political, institutional and economic configuration of Portugal’s contemporary empire c) Make sense of the modes of collaboration and resistance which shaped the relationship of the Portuguese with the different peoples which came under their rule d) Acquire a comparative perspective of Portuguese and European decolonization, in a “longue durée” time scale. e) Be familiar with some of the major historical debates related with the various topics of the course f) Be able to locate and work with historical sources for different periods of Portugal’s contemporary empire and acquire the necessary skills to develop a Master’s academic work.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Pedro Aires Ribeiro da Cunha Oliveira


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language



Available soon


ALEXANDRE, Valentim – Velho Brasil, Novas Áfricas. Porto: Afrontamento, 2000 BETHENCOURT, Francisco e CHAUDHURI, Kirti (coord.) – História da Expansão Portuguesa. Lisboa, Círculo de Leitores, 1998, 5 volumes MACQUEEN, Norrie – A Descolonização da África Portuguesa. Lisboa: Inquérito, 1998 ROSAS, F.; MACHAQUEIRO, M.; OLIVEIRA, P. Aires (org.) - O Adeus ao Império. 40 anos de Descolonização Portuguesa. Lisboa: Nova Vega, 2015 SHIPWAY, Martin – Decolonization and its Impact. A comparative Approach to the End of Colonial Empires. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008 SMITH Gervase Clarence – The Third Portuguese Empire (1825-1975). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985

Teaching method

Lectures by the teacher and oral interventions by the students based on selected articles or book chapters. Tutorial meetings with teacher to prepare students for the writing of their essays.

Evaluation method

Available soon

Subject matter

a. The historiography of the Third Portuguese Empire: major interpretative lines b. Key theories concerning the New Imperialism of the late 19th century. c. The crisis of the Ultimatum and the emergence of a modern imperial and nationalistic ideology. d. The empire after 1890: Portugal’s “civilizing mission” and African labour; the “neo-mercantilist” policies and the chartered companies; the military conquest and the setting up of the colonial apparatus. e. The racial question in the Third Portuguese empire. f. The Portuguese colonies and the evolution of international system up to the 1930’s. g. Salazar’s New State: from the Colonial Act to the adjustments of the 1950s. h. Origins and development of the decolonization movement. The Cold War and the European empires. i. Portugal’s African Wars. The independence movements and the late colonial state. The international context of Portugal’s decolonization. j. Beyond empire: the quest for a new national identity and Portugal’s strategies.