“Plantation Memories”, Anastácia, Dandara, and Zumbi, the Slave Ship São José, and the Farms of São Tomé, Or Slavery, Colonialism, and Racism in the Work of Women Artists

Ana Balona de Oliveira


In this essay, I examine the ways in which women artists – Grada Kilomba (Portugal, 1968), Ângela Ferreira (Mozambique, 1958), Eurídice Kala aka Zaituna Kala (Mozambique, 1987), Meghna Singh (India, 1981), and Mónica de Miranda (Portugal, 1976) – have critically addressed the history and memory of slavery and colonialism, as well as their contemporary legacies in the form of structural, institutional, and everyday racism in Portuguese society and beyond. They have done so with a critical focus on the pioneering and pervasive role of the Portuguese in the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans to the Americas, and with an emphasis on the experience of black women. Their works require an analysis that is attentive to the history of the trade in the Indian Ocean, as well as to the continuities between slavery and forced labour after a merely formal abolition in the Portuguese colonial empire. They also call for an intersectional feminist reading, in their focus on race and gender, alongside class and sexuality. This essay reflects on the critical valences of contemporary art for a counter-hegemonic public memorialization of these silenced histories and their enduring legacies, in line with an idea of epistemic decolonization and systemic reparation.


Grada Kilomba, Ângela Ferreira, Eurídice Kala aka Zaituna Kala, Meghna Singh, Mónica de Miranda; slavery, colonialism, and racism; women artists; contemporary art

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS0001814

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/