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(Re)imagining African Independence

Film, Visual Arts and the Fall of the Portuguese Empire


Maria do Carmo Piçarra and Teresa Castro

The fortieth anniversary of the independence of the African countries colonized by Portugal presents a valuable opportunity to reassess how colonialism has been «imagined» through the medium of the moving image. The essays collected in this volume investigate Portuguese colonialism and its filmic and audio-visual imaginaries both during and after the Estado Novo regime, examining political propaganda films shot during the liberation wars and exploring the questions and debates these generate. The book also highlights common aspects in the emergence of a national cinema in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. By reanimating (and decolonizing) the archive, it represents an important contribution to Portuguese colonial history, as well as to the history of cinema and the visual arts.

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7 African Independence and the Socialist Republic of Romania’s Photographic Archive (Iolanda Vasile)


← 150 | 151 →


7    African Independence and the Socialist Republic of Romania’s Photographic Archive1

The Socialist Republic of Romania (RSR) created the Romanian Friendship League with the Peoples from Asia and Africa around 1958, thus confirming its interest in key issues within the international political arena. At the same time, in the wake of the conflict in Czechoslovakia (1968), the RSR apparently distanced itself from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) when it publicly condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia by four Warsaw Pact members following the Prague Spring. This created the illusion that the country was now on a liberal path, an illusion comforted by the fact that the RSR actively supported newly independent states around the world, as well as their fight against imperialism and colonialism. However, behind closed doors, the RSR also ‘provide[d] the Soviets with decision advantage in the superpower competition’ (Gheorghe 2010: 2) by manipulating information received from various countries. Notwithstanding these tensions, Soviet-Romanian relations never came to genuine opposition. On the contrary, as more and more archives come to light, it is clear that both countries extensively collaborated with each other (Tismăneanu 2005; Gheorghe 2010). This agenda became one of the pillars of Romanian socialist propaganda, embodying the RSR’s foreign policy goals. At home, this rhetoric took the shape of long and pompous ← 151 | 152 → discourses evoking the ‘friendship’ visits’2 of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu to newly independent countries in Asia, the Middle East...

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