A Live/Living Museum of Small, Forgotten and Unwanted Memories
: Performing Narratives, Testimonies and Archives of the Portuguese Dictatorship and Revolution

  • Joanna Craveiro

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This practice-as-research thesis investigates and contributes to the transmission of official, non-official and personal memories of the Portuguese Dictatorship (1926-1974), Revolution (25th April 1974) and Revolutionary Process (1974-1975) – three key historical moments, memories of which are still subject to contestation. My research addresses these disputes, part of the overall “memory struggles” (Jelin, 2003) concerning the public politics of memory in Portugal, together with the lack of inscription of those memories in the public space. Moreover, in what I argue to be the absence of an official process of transitional justice and the lack of reparation for victims of state repression during the dictatorship, – I interrogate not only state policies over the last 40 years, but also the personal responsibility of the individuals in the preservation and transmission of memory. A Living Museum of Small, Forgotten and Unwanted Memories, presents a series of seven performance-lectures on aspects of the three historical moments, as évenements “…shaped from conflicting imaginations at once past and present” (de Certeau, 1988 xv).
    My employment of different performance devices within the performancelecture
    mode intersects the “archive” and the “repertoire” (Taylor, 2001) in the
    transmission of memory, demonstrating that, rather than disappearing, performancecan remain (Schneider, 2011) in various ways, as when written materials originally pertaining to the “archive” are performed and thus become “repertoire”, and through the effect of the performance on spectators and their memories of the events portrayed. Using autobiography and oral testimonies, I accessed the meaning of the events for these individuals, myself and my family, creating a set of personal histories with which I challenge some of the dominant master narratives, disseminated through privileged channels, such as the media and political discourses. As such, the performance A Living Museum became a space to disseminate an alternative history, altering the perception of these events in the public space. It also became a space of live interaction between past events and their present representation, through post-performance debates staged every night, whereby spectators and some of the interviewees could voice their opinions, as well as their own personal memories. The performance thus encouraged emancipated spectatorship (Rancière, 2009), offering an active practice of reconciliation for individuals with traumatic features of their past, namely state repression and the Colonial War during the dictatorship; the return from the Portuguese ex-colonies during the revolutionary process; and the lost utopias of an “impossible” revolution (the revolutionary process of 1974-75), today perceived through negative narratives of excess and exoticism.
    Date of Award13 Feb 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorSusanne Greenhalgh (Supervisor), Joshua Abrams (Supervisor) & Emily Orley (Supervisor)

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