European project studies contemporary uses of colonial heritages 

September 2017

Under the Horizonte 2020 programme, the Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra is part of a consortium to develop the new research project European Colonial Heritage Modalities in Entangled Cities (ECHOES). It has an overall financing of 2.5 million euros, including 400 thousand euros attributed to CES to participate in this research that will be developed over the course of three years, starting February 1, 2018.

ECHOES stems from a crucial dilemma of contemporary Europe, which lies in the fact that the history of colonial empires is based on a common past that has hitherto been silenced in official heritage narratives. The project argues that the EU urgently needs to recognize this dilemma to progressively and reflexively evolve towards building shared identities, memories and heritage practices. Europeanising a pluralistic and diverse colonial heritage is a necessary ethical and political commitment towards the acceptance of colonialism as part of European history and not only as an isolated issue from different countries. Aiming to confront different visions of common pasts and bringing "the other" to the centre of the debate, ECHOES adopts a postcolonial perspective, connecting European and non-European cities, analysing heritage and cultural practices, museological initiatives, exploring current challenges and commitments of this legacy.

Coordinated by Lorena Sancho Querol and Paulo Peixoto, CES’s participation involves a close collaboration with UNIRIO, whose team is coordinated by Márcia Chuva, and the universities of Copenhagen and Nuuk (Greenland), and this team is coordinated by Astrid Nonbo Andersen. United by history, these two pairs of cities, Lisbon-Rio and Copenhagen-Nuuk, are examples of formal and informal patrimonial practices (popular culture, festivals, artistic production) that give rise to ethno-landscapes connected by a shared past. The legacies of the African presence in the port areas of Lisbon and Rio and the new artistic expressions of Greenland origin and their impact on the Danish heritage representations are starting points for the old colonial ties to give way to new urban landscapes able to reflect the cultural multiplicity and a concept of polyphonic, evolutionary and open heritage that fosters integrated identity approaches.

The project aims for a comprehensive look at the diversity of colonial realities, involving, for this purpose, the universities of Amsterdam (Holland), Hull (UK), Aarhus (Denmark), Warsaw (Poland), Rennes II (France), Fudan (China), Cape Town (South Africa) and Federal of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO, Brazil).