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FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO

Travel Writing and Diasporic Spaces


Editors
Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa
Luísa Flora
Teresa Malafaia
Co-editors
Ana Daniela Coelho
Inês Morais
Cover Design
Inês Mateus
Work Cover
Biombo Namban, século XVII [1603-1610]
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. Photo by Francisco Matias
Edition
Centro de Estudos Anglísticos da Universidade de Lisboa
University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies
Printing and Finishing
Europress - Indústria Gráfica

Print Run 150 copies


ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0
Legal Deposit 368900/13

2013

PUBLICATION SPONSORED BY
FUNDAÇÃO PARA A CIÊNCIA E A TECNOLOGIA
From Brazil to Macao
Travel Writing and Diasporic Spaces

Editors
Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa, Luísa Flora and Teresa Malafaia

Co-editors
Ana Daniela Coelho and Inês Morais

Preface by
Tim Youngs

Introduction
Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa and Teresa Malafaia
CD Contents / Conteúdos
Essays / Ensaios

I. África e Portugal — viagens e topografias identitárias:


deslocamentos, errâncias e representações discursivas
Introdução Inocência Mata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos de guerra:


uma leitura comparada entre A Costa dos Murmúrios de Lídia Jorge
e Ventos do Apocalipse, de Paulina Chiziane
Débora Leite David .................................................. 89
Literatura e imprensa nas relações Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras: percurso
de uma escritora viajante
Elisabeth Batista ..................................................... 99
De Muhipiti a “Lisabona”: a inadiável viagem da poesia
Jessica Falconi ....................................................... 107
A viagem como criação de sentido: topografias do Sul
Lola Geraldes Xavier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
O mundo e o cais: “Cosmopolitismo periférico” na literatura caboverdiana
Roberto Francavilla .................................................. 127
Moçambique mon amour: o mito do eterno retorno
Sheila Khan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
On another road: women travelling to other centres
Vicky Hartnack ...................................................... 149

II. Discovering and disclosing: landscapes in the discourses


of explorers and tourists
Introdução Eduardo Brito-Henriques .................................. 175

Travel books and scientific explorations: from body to theory


Ana Francisca de Azevedo ............................................. 179
Paradise, plenitude, savagery, and sin: traveller’s tales of Amazonia,
16th century to the present
Anna T. Browne Ribeiro ............................................... 189
The discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm
in travel writing
Anna Maj ............................................................ 203
2 CD CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS

If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers – La Courneuve reading


Roissy Express as a travelogue
Emilia Ljungberg ..................................................... 219
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations built by Portuguese
young people during their stay in Macao
Inês Pessoa .......................................................... 231

III. Ao encontro do outro: viajantes estrangeiros em Portugal


Introdução João Paulo Pereira da Silva / Maria Zulmira Castanheira ..... 243

Ronald Bodley: a dramática história da fuga de um inglês para Lisboa


Ana Isabel Calado .................................................... 249
William e Elizabeth Younger sob o luar de Portugal
Carla Sofia Vieira .................................................... 261
Imagens de Portugal em Journal of a Lady of Quality
Catarina Crespo Coelho Correia de Castro .............................. 271
O Portugal Finissecular (1889-1890): a visão de um americano
Isabel Oliveira Martins ................................................ 283
Alguns traços dos percursos lusitanos de William Kingston: imagens
de Portugal
Maria da Conceição Emiliano Castel-Branco ............................. 297
Mosaico de si: John Berger, um viandante em Lisboa
Maria de Deus Duarte ................................................. 311
O Portugal de Roy Campbell
Maria do Rosário Lupi Bello ........................................... 323
Retrato da sociedade portuguesa num relato britânico da primeira
metade de Oitocentos: do desenho à palavra
Maria Zulmira Castanheira ............................................ 335
A viagem em família: motivações e condicionantes. O caso de Portugal;
or, the Young Travellers (1830)
Marina Calado ....................................................... 349
Their own private Portugal: the travel guides of Rose Macaulay and
Ann Bridge
Marlene Baldwin Davis ................................................ 359
Ut pictura poesis: Sintra romântica na encruzilhada das artes
Miguel Alarcão ....................................................... 371
The beginning of a century, the end of an era: the Portuguese seen
by two English travellers (1908-1909)
Ricardo Marques ..................................................... 387
Macau in the early 1840’s: the unpublished “Chinese Diary” (1841-1842)
of Mary Parry Sword (1812-1845)
Rogério Miguel Puga .................................................. 397
CD CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS 3

IV. Between worlds: the Americas at the crossroads of the seas


Introduction Teresa F. A. Alves / Teresa Cid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411

Configuração alternativa de lugar, identidade e linguagem em Their


Hands are Green and Their Heads are Blue, de Paul Bowles
Anabela Duarte ...................................................... 415
America in the post-1989 Romanian travel writing: an analysis of Stelian
Tănase’s travelogue L.A. vs. N.Y. American Diary
Costinela Drăgan ..................................................... 427
Boston-Ponta Delgada 1815
Edgardo Medeiros Silva ............................................... 437
El terreno. An island within an island. Visions of travellers on a southern
neighbourhood.
Eduard Moyà Antón ................................................... 451
A Natural born drifter: Paul Bowles’s writings as diasporic spaces
Hermínia Sol ........................................................ 459
Ver-se no outro: brasileiros relatam suas viagens nos EUA na virada
do século XIX
Karen Macknow Lisboa ................................................ 469
Alexander Mackenzie’s Voyages: Indians, the fur trade and Northwest
expansion
Robert Sayre ........................................................ 483
Rewriting travel literature: a cosmopolitan critique of exoticism in
contemporary Latin American fiction
Rosario Hubert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 495

V. As Ilhas Britânicas: viajando em, para e de. Imagens, discursos


de viagens, identidades: do século XIX até ao presente
Introduction Luísa Maria Flora ....................................... 507

Camões the Traveller


Landeg White ........................................................ 511
Travelling in the short story: sketching, reporting and storytelling
Alda Correia ......................................................... 525
Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World: A voyage towards hope
Adelaide Meira Serras ................................................ 535
A taste of the “Spicy Subcontinent”: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s
The Mistress of Spices
Ana Cristina Mendes .................................................. 549
Património e paisagem nos relatos de viagem: o Alentejo no século XVIII
Antónia Fialho Conde ................................................. 561
4 CD CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS

India Calling: Relatos de viagens na autobiografia de Cornelia Sorabji


Cristina Baptista ..................................................... 573
Percursos em Diálogo: o Ensaio Ficcional de Virginia Woolf
Joana Vidigal ........................................................ 585
An involuntary apprenticeship in the interpretation of Japan
Maria José Pires ..................................................... 595
The revealing voyage of Jaime Batalha Reis in the fin-de-siècle England
Vanda Rosa .......................................................... 607

VII. Mapping the voyage: cartography as Travel Narrative


Introduction Francisco Contente Domingues ........................... 615

Looking for the land in the sky and the sea: Early 16th century Portuguese
Roteiros and Diários de Navegação and the recognition of Southern
African Coast
Ana Cristina Roque ................................................... 621

VIII. Modos, géneros e discursos da Literatura de Viagens de Língua


Portuguesa
Introdução A. P. Laborinho / J. D. Pinto Correia ........................ 649

Dos Estados Unidos da América ao Oriente: as viagens de Mendonça


e Costa no início do século XX
Ana Cardoso de Matos / Elói de Figueiredo Ribeiro ....................... 653
Conto “A Viagem” de Sophia de Mello Breyner: a orfandade do desejo
na diáspora dos lugares
Gilda Nunes Barata ................................................... 667
Miguel Torga: a África colonial e a sua percepção do outro
Isabel Maria Fidalgo Mateus ........................................... 677
A “Mala para o Brasil” — correspondência eciana na imprensa carioca
(1880-1882)
Isabel Trabucho ...................................................... 697
O descobrimento dos sentidos na Peregrinação
Maria Alice Arruda Ferreira Gomes ..................................... 709
Paisagens femininas nos orientes de Wenceslau de Moraes
Marta Pacheco Pinto .................................................. 727
Gabriela: esporos do Novo Mundo no Portugal contemporâneo
Roque Pinto ......................................................... 743
CD CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS 5

IX. Travelling as requirement and instrument of labour — Forms


of transhumance, conveyance and mobility around space-time
in the making of science and of art
Introduction Anabela Mendes ........................................ 761

Mobility in knowledge through translation in Medieval and


Renaissance Europe
Ana Maria Bernardo .................................................. 765
Neptuno contra Vulcano? Representação estética e geognósica em
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe e Alexander von Humboldt
Anabela Mendes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 779
Diasporic spaces: an exile’s view of Brazil – Richard Katz’s Brazilian
Travel Books
Jennifer E. Michaels .................................................. 791
O mundo natural das Índias nos relatos dos viajantes medievais:
o testemunho de Jordan Catala de Sévérac
Teresa Nobre de Carvalho ............................................. 803

X. Real, fictional and fantastic geography in the ancient and the


modern world
Introduction Marília P. Futre Pinheiro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 817

Colin Thubron’s Journey Into Cyprus; or a journey into the tunnel


of greek-cypriot and turkish-cypriot tension
Eroulla Demetriou / José Ruiz Mas ..................................... 821
O sentido da demanda e da viagem na Epopeia de Gilgameš
Francisco Caramelo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 831
A viagem iniciática de Lúcio n’ O burro de ouro
Leonor Santa Bárbara ................................................. 841
Curiositas e mirabilia n’ As Maravilhas de Além Tule de António Diógenes
Vítor Ruas ........................................................... 849

XI. Línguas Navegantes


Introdução Ivo Castro ............................................... 861

Espacios exóticos: el Libro del Infante Don Pedro – Motivos y circulación


Carmen Mejía Ruiz / María Victoria Navas Sánchez-Élez .................. 865
Un bárbaro en Asia, el viaje a Oriente de Henri Michaux
Rocío Peñalta Catalán ................................................ 887
6 CD CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS

XII. Dialogues across borders: discovering the other, rethinking space


Introduction Isabel Fernandes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 901

Four shipwrecks: travelling as an image of life in “The Wanderer”,


“The Seafarer” and Hopkins’s “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
and “The Loss of the Eurydice”
Fernando Barragão ................................................... 903
White lies and black peril: traveling women in southern Africa
Margaret Hanzimanolis ............................................... 915
Sir Walter Raleigh and Guiana: a mysterious search, a metaphorical
discovery
Maria de Jesus Crespo Candeias Velez Relvas ............................ 929
I

África e Portugal — viagens e topografias


identitárias: deslocamentos, errâncias
e representações discursivas
Introdução

E
ste simpósio sobre África e Portugal — viagens e topografias identitárias:
deslocamentos, errâncias e representações discursivas, pensado no
âmbito do Congresso Internacional DO BRASIL A MACAU: NARRATIVAS DE
VIAGENS E ESPAÇOS DE DIÁSPORA, pretendeu introduzir a vertente africana
no movimento que levou Portugal, e em última instância a própria Europa, a
(r)encontrar-se com outros homens, outras culturas, outros espaços e outras,
numa constante reinvenção de si e desses outros mundos. Participando da
intenção dos organizadores do Congresso em potenciar a transdisciplinaridade e
a diversidade temática, buscou-se neste simpósio introduzir a discussão sobre
viagens e injunções identitárias, daí decorrentes, para dar conta das relações
entre os espaços literários africanos e portugueses que se actualizam, tanto nas
literaturas africanas de língua portuguesa, como nas relações que estabelecem
com os espaços literários em português. Neste contexto, o que se pretendeu é
que neste painel se pudesse reflectir sobre os modos de inscrição literária dessas
espacialidades e temporalidades, nos seus deslocamentos (viagem, exílio,
evasão, intersecções, trânsito) e suas representações discursivas.
Mais de três décadas depois do fim do império português em África e, em
alguns casos, no rescaldo do reagenciamento pós-bélico decorrente de dinâmi-
cas pós-coloniais nem sempre celebrativas, a literatura dos países que viveram
a experiência colonial (como colonizador e como colonizados) continua a busca
e a (re)construção da imagem do Outro e do Próprio/Mesmo. Neste contexto,
e porque as cicatrizes podem lembrar-nos onde estivemos, mas não têm necessa-
riamente de dizer para onde vamos, as inscrições espaciais são entendidas
diferentemente, quer como formas de vivência de lugares (a vários níveis da
consciência humana e de injunções pessoais e colectivas em relação ao passado
84 Inocência Mata

e ao presente), quer como formas de tornar dialéctica a representação da


diversidade e da heterogeneidade.
Com efeito, se não se pode pretender que o “encontro” colonial seja univer-
salmente celebrado, vale lembrar Homi Bhabha que, na sua reinterpretação da
teoria fanoniana, afirma a simultaneidade da inscrição da violência em ambos
os actores: “O preto [leia-se colonizado africano] escravizado por sua inferiori-
dade, o branco escravizado por sua superioridade”1. O certo é que a descoberta,
essa, foi certamente bilateral e não uma “uma acção intransitiva”, como a de
Colombo2, e no reconhecimento desse resultado histórico deve residir um dos
locus da (re)interpretação do passado e da inscrição da história nas relações do
presente e na construção da harmonia convivial.
Organizado em quatro painéis — a saber: 1º) África e Portugal: Desloca-
mentos; 2º) África e Portugal: Errâncias; 3º) África e Portugal: Configurações
Discursivas I: a Questão do Género; 4º) África e Portugal: Configurações
Discursivas II: A Construção de Imaginários — e com um primeiro acervo de
quinze inscrições, as onze comunicações apresentadas deram conta das múlti-
plas percepções de espaço que os textos actualizam na sua demanda pelos
meandros dos “vestígios” deixados pelo/no contacto entre as culturas africanas
e portuguesa.
Três ensaios compõem o painel dedicado aos DESLOCAMENTOS. O primeiro
é o texto de Ana Luísa Teixeira (ISCTE/FLUL) que em “Memórias na partida e no
regresso: a (re)Construção de aspectos físicos e identitários em Os Retornados:
Um Amor Nunca se Esquece”, de Júlio Magalhães e “Era uma Outra Guerra”,
de Lília Momplé”. No seu texto, Ana Luísa Teixeira problematiza os conceitos
de “partida” e de “regresso” e de representatividade do esquecimento e da me-
mória, intentando desvendar possíveis intertextualidades entre a voz ficcional
e a documental da descolonização enquanto desvenda, por outro lado, a cons-
trução de um novo conceito de retorno ao espaço outrora colonizado. Fá-lo
confrontando dois textos separados por dez anos: Os Retornados: Um Amor Nunca
se Esquece (2007), de Júlio Magalhães, em que a partida dos portugueses na
sequência do processo de descolonização de Angola, enquanto deslocação no
espaço físico, é acompanhada pelo empenhamento em anular a memória indivi-
dual e colectiva de um espaço identitário em desconstrução histórica e política,
e “Era Uma Outra Guerra” (Os Olhos da Cobra Verde, 1997), da moçambicana
Lília Momplé, em que um casal português regressa a Moçambique numa viagem

1 Homi Bhaba. O Local da Cultura (1994). Belo Horizonte: Editora da UFMG, 1998 (p. 74).
2 Tzvetan Todorov. A Conquista da América: a Questão do Outro (1982). São Paulo: Martins
Fontes, 3ª ed., 2003 (p. 17-18).
África e Portugal — viagens e topografias identitárias 85

que se materializa fisicamente e se desenrola através da revisitação de memó-


rias. Segue-se o texto de Lola Geraldes Xavier (Escola Superior de Educação de
Coimbra/Centro de Línguas e Culturas da Universidade de Aveiro), “A viagem
como criação de sentido: topografias do Sul”, uma reflexão sobre o tema da
viagem e as injunções literárias que daí decorrem a partir de Hinyambaan,
“novela burlesca” do escritor moçambicano João Paulo Borges Coelho publicada
em 2007 — a viagem como factor desencadeador da construção da imagem do
Outro e do Próprio/Mesmo, bem como do embate do olhar do local (no caso a
cultura tsonga) com o olhar do estrangeiro (no caso a cultura africaner). Note-
-se que esta reflexão se fez numa altura em que continuavam presentes as
consequências das agressões xenófobas que ocorreram na África Sul contra imi-
grantes somalis, zimbabueanos, nigerianos e da região dos Grandes Lagos —
portanto, contra imigrantes africanos. Neste contexto, a pertinência do ensaio
de Lola Xavier reside também no facto de reflectir sobre as relações identitárias
que se estabelecem no Sul, a partir do olhar do próprio Sul. Este painel sobre
“Deslocamentos” fecha com o ensaio de Maria Zilda Ferreira Cury (Universidade
Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil) intitulado “Raízes e asas: topografias discursivas
em A Árvore das Palavras, da escritora portuguesa Teolinda Gersão”, em que a
partir das reflexões sobre os conceitos de lugar, deslocamento e diáspora,
recorrentes contemporaneamente no campo das Ciências Humanas, a estudiosa
analisa as representações discursivas de Portugal e Moçambique no romance A
Árvore das Palavras, romance de 1997 de Teolinda Gersão.
O segundo painel, sobre ERRÂNCIAS, abre com o ensaio de José Luís Pires
Laranjeira (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Coimbra) em que (em “Ida
e volta: os brancos viajam, os negros deslocam-se, nas literaturas africanas de
língua portuguesa”, comparando alguns dos textos literários que têm Portugal e
África como cenários e espaços de habitabilidade e sociabilidade) se estudam
deslocações, movimentações de personagens, para concluir que certos autores,
brancos, partem de uma perspectiva ocidental (a viagem como turismo, investi-
gação, pose, aventura, experimentalismo ou exotismo), enquanto outros autores,
esses negros, partem de uma perspectiva endógena, trazendo para a cena
literária sujeitos que se deslocam por necessidade de sobrevivência, emigração,
trabalho temporário ou forçado, fuga à guerra). Segue-se a reflexão de Roberto
Francavilla (Universidade de Siena, Itália): em ‘O mundo e o cais: “cosmopoli-
tismo periférico” na literatura cabo-verdiana’, Roberto Francavilla discute
algumas questões relacionadas com a história da cultura cabo-verdiana a fim de
estabelecer, dentro dos parâmetros de uma epistemologia pós-colonial e no
âmbito dos estudos literários, a incidência da insularidade (e as suas consequên-
cias: mobilidade demográfica, emigração, viagem, partida e regresso, diáspora),
não apenas como tema, mito ou símbolo, mas também como verdadeiro para-
86 Inocência Mata

digma de um “cosmopolitismo periférico”. Finalmente, nessas “Errâncias” Sheila


Khan (então pós-doutoranda e investigadora associada: University of Manchester/
CES, Universidade de Coimbra/CICS, Universidade do Minho) centra a sua reflexão
à volta de conceitos de retorno e viagem, não só como um deslocamento físico
e territorial, mas, pelo contrário, abordando estes dois constructos teóricos na
perspectiva de uma desterritorialização emocional, mnemónica, metafórica e
metonímica, e partindo das contribuições de narrativas de vida de moçambicanos
e moçambicanas na diáspora europeia e urbana (Lisboa e Londres). Partindo de
uma expressão utilizada pelo escritor e crítico Eugénio Lisboa, em “Moçambique
Mon Amour3: o mito do eterno retorno”, Sheila Khan considera que ainda que o
retorno seja uma terra almejada para aqueles homens e mulheres moçambicanos
que deixaram para trás a vida do seu “paraíso perdido”’ e se tornaram seres
migrantes com a independência de Moçambique, as suas vidas presentes têm
vindo a escrever-se com outras linguagens, outros vocábulos e outros signos que
já não encontram uma feliz correspondência e identificação com a sociedade de
origem da qual foram partindo.
Em CONFIGURAÇÕES DISCURSIVAS I: A QUESTÃO DO GÉNERO, inserem-se três
textos sobre a errância e deslocamentos de sujeitos femininos. Primeiramente
Débora Leite David (então doutoranda da Universidade de São Paulo) estuda,
em “A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos de guerra: uma leitura
comparada entre A Costa dos Murmúrios, de Lídia Jorge, e Ventos do Apocalipse,
de Paulina Chiziane”, a trajectória das personagens femininas principais dos dois
romances supracitados, observando como a viagem e o deslocamento se insti-
tuem, afinal, como descobrimento de si próprias e do Outro. Desse movimento
segue-se a busca pela reconstrução do “eu” esmagado pela guerra, na tentativa
de emergir e transpor uma realidade de dupla opressão que é a condição da
mulher inserida no contexto do conflito armado, a “guerra colonial”, no primeiro
caso (a portuguesa Lídia Jorge), e a guerra civil no segundo caso (a moçambicana
Paulina Chiziane). Por seu turno, em “Mulheres cabo-verdianas em Lisboa. Cons-
truindo narrativas em viagem — re(construindo) imagens de si”, Celeste Fortes,
doutoranda do Centro de Estudos de Migrações e Minorias Étnicas, Departamento
de Antropologia / FCSH-UNL, traz para este fórum parte do seu trabalho de inves-
tigação em Estudos de Migrações e Minorias Étnicas, reflecte sobre a importância
do género enquanto princípio organizador dos fluxos migratórios, quebrando com
a concepção androcêntrica prevalecente. Celeste Fortes, que considera que a
nova era das migrações tem evidenciado uma feminização das migrações, estuda

3 Título retirado de empréstimo de uma reflexão apresentada pelo escritor e crítico Eugénio
Lisboa, na Revista Colóquio Letras.
África e Portugal — viagens e topografias identitárias 87

narrativas de viagens de mulheres cabo-verdianas em Lisboa que apontam, tanto


para estratégias de (re)construção de imagens de si no contexto migratório portu-
guês, quanto para a vivência da migração como um “ritual de passagem” que
leva ao redimensionamento do olhar sobre si, enquanto mulher, cabo-verdiana,
mãe, filha, trabalhadora, estudante, “independente”, “autónoma” e ainda para
a idealização do regresso como um projecto a ser cumprido. Vicky Hartnack (da
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa) traz, em “On another road:
women travelling to other centres” [Em outra estrada: mulheres que viajam para
outros centros], uma novidade neste fórum: outras áfricas, deslocando o eixo
destas reflexões para outros espaços africanos, diferentes dos de colonização
portuguesa, a fim de que se possam estabelecer comparações. Vicky Hartnack
começa por considerar que desde o século V AC, quando a bacia do Níger viu a
partida dos povos Bantu para o sul e para o leste, a África Subsariana tem vivido
mum estado de constante vaivém. Por isso, a autora considera que há muitos
séculos que o pluriculturalismo e o plurilinguismo têm sido um modo de vida
entre os povos africanos, que cruzaram fronteiras naturais e artificiais, a caminho
de algum outro lugar. Mas, com raras excepções, considera ainda a autora, esses
deslocamentos sempre foram definidos dentro de um contexto de estruturas
hierárquicas e de género. Com o advento das independências políticas, ardua-
mente conquistadas pelos povos africanos, houve a percepção de que se assistiria
a uma mudança de paradigmas na relação hierárquica entre os géneros, dado o
contínuo êxodo para a cidade nos últimos 50 anos e, consequentemente, para
outros ambientes sociais e culturais que se pensou poderem proporcionar uma
oportunidade para a emergência de outra voz, que, porém, até agora só se tem
ouvido intermitentemente, pois a tradição tem ajudado a mantê-la como corren-
te subterrânea. Esta sua comunicação visa, assim, estudar a forma como algumas
mulheres africanas têm, na sua escrita, explorado a sua própria identidade,
muitas vezes em ambientes hostis, convocando as suas próprias memórias, expe-
riências e lutas em contextos colonial e pós-colonial.
O quarto painel, que reedita o tema das CONFIGURAÇÕES DISCURSIVAS II:
A CONSTRUÇÃO DE IMAGINÁRIOS, trabalhando, agora, os seus nexos simbólicos
e imaginários, conta com dois ensaios: o primeiro, de Marisabel Almer (douto-
randa: University of Michigan, USA), intitulado “Remembering Angola: Cuban
Memories of the Intervention in Angola” [Lembrando Angola: memórias cubanas
da intervenção em Angola], e o segundo de Elisabeth Batista (Universidade do
Estado de Mato Grosso), “Literatura e imprensa nas relações Ibero-Afro-
-Brasileiras. Percurso de uma escritora viajante”. O ensaio de Marisabel Almer
parte das memórias dos soldados cubanos que participaram na intervenção
cubana em Angola (que de 1975 a 1991 envolveu cerca de 400.000 militares) para
explorar ideias de raça e sexualidade moldadas por essa experiência de guerra
88 Inocência Mata

na África lusófona. Marisabel Almer analisa narrativas de guerra que enfatizam


ideias sobre a sexualidade feminina angolana, as hierarquias raciais, os tropos
de virilidade e superioridade cubanas, as raízes religiosas e culturais e outros
encontros com o Outro. A reflexão, que é parte da sua pesquisa de campo,
fornece evidências etnográficas recolhidas em vários locais e lugares, para
documentar as histórias orais dos militares envolvidos na maior “empresa
internacionalista” cubana desde a sua revolução de 1959 e para fundamentar as
ideias correntes sobre os espaços e os sujeitos da diáspora. Por seu turno,
Elisabeth Batista pretende, no seu ensaio, reconhecer e dar visibilidade à diversi-
dade cultural brasileira gerada nas relações ibero-afro-brasileiras, a partir do
século XX, período em que, segundo a autora, se estratificou a imagem do Outro.
Através da obra de Maria Archer, que viveu parte de sua vida entre Portugal e
África, não raro em situação de verdadeiro exílio, inconformada com os padrões
de feminilidade previstos — deveria dizer prescritos — para a mulher portuguesa
pela ideologia do Estado Novo, o texto de Elisabeth Batista propõe-se recuperar
o modo como a produção criativa de Maria Archer, ao criar abertura para um
diálogo entre a literatura e a imprensa, circunscreveu, na construção da imagem
do outro, as relações entre as sociedades imaginadas
Nos ensaios deste simpósio sobre deslocamentos, errâncias e representações,
em que a viagem aparece como elemento transversal, estudam-se as represen-
tações discursivas das diferentes configurações identitárias que emergem de
relações sempre tensas entre espaços de/para, metáforas metonímicas de rela-
ções de poder que se estabelecem e de que a literatura (ou outras textualidades,
como os depoimentos, nos casos dos ensaios de Sheila Khan e de Marisabel Almer)
é repositório privilegiado. Neste contexto, a literatura veicula esse processo de
busca e de construção identitária do relacionamento em que o Outro, duplo do
Mesmo e por isso entidade incontornável, vai ganhando foros de cidadania
enquanto sujeito de uma história que se vai conformando nem sempre através
de uma percepção prismática, como seria desejável.

Inocência Mata
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
Centro de Estudos Comparatistas
A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos
de guerra: uma leitura comparada entre A Costa
dos Murmúrios de Lídia Jorge e Ventos do Apocalipse,
de Paulina Chiziane

DÉBORA LEITE DAVID*


Universidade de São Paulo — Brasil

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


* À época do congresso doutoranda bolsista CNPq
Introdução
A partir da leitura comparada entre os romances A costa dos murmúrios, de Lídia
Jorge e Ventos do apocalipse, de Paulina Chiziane pretendemos apontar os cami-
nhos trilhados pelo sujeito feminino em tempos e espaços de guerra representa-
dos nestas narrativas. Um trânsito feminino em que percebemos mais do que um
só caminho. A partir do deslocamento físico, são variadas as incursões trans-
gressoras que as personagens femininas fazem em território interdito da guerra.
Espaço privilegiado do homem — do guerreiro e do herói—, a guerra, sob o olhar
feminino, recebe uma perspectiva outra que é a da margem, pois o sujeito femi-
nino em relação aos jogos de força e de poder encontra-se comumente na zona
dos vencidos, dos ausentes, a quem cabe a voz que é silenciada. Entre a agonia
do fim da dominação colonial portuguesa e o desalento trágico da guerra civil
em Moçambique, e através de olhares críticos oriundos de pólos plurais e
dialéticos entre si, estas narrativas nos colocam frente a tópicos incontornáveis
e amiúde, presentes nas literaturas contemporâneas que são as reflexões acerca
das identidades e dos mitos.
Muito embora tenha havido um enfraquecimento das fronteiras nacionais no
decorrer do último século, em virtude de uma dinâmica globalizante decorrente
do capitalismo financeiro, muitos acreditam que a nacionalidade ainda é uma
referência identitária muito forte e presente. Podemos dizer que espelha essa
perspectiva a presença no romance contemporâneo das reflexões acerca das
identidades e da sua construção continuada, o que permite, entre outros aspec-
tos, perceber a nação refletida na escrita do sujeito como um dos grandes temas
da modernidade. Deste modo, o contorno do próprio ser seria possível através
da escrita que persegue a definição e o sentido para o indivíduo e para a sua
coletividade passando no mais das vezes pela idéia de pertencimento a uma
comunidade política imaginada consubstanciada na imagem de comunhão e de
companheirismo (ANDERSON, 1989).
No caso dos romances eleitos para a presente análise percebemos a existên-
cia da busca pela compreensão de si próprio e da sua coletividade num mesmo
espaço, que é Moçambique. As situações diferenciadas em que se desenvolvem
as narrativas das escritoras Lídia Jorge e Paulina Chiziane, especialmente no
tocante a provável datação histórica dos acontecimentos — antes e depois da
92 Débora Leite David

Independência de Moçambique ocorrida em 25 de junho de 1975, não impedem


o diálogo concernente ao questionamento das identidades. Contrapondo-se à
tradição da construção dos relatos de guerra e atos de heroísmo que partem do
olhar do homem, do herói, estes romances privilegiam a perspectiva feminina e
destacam vozes plurais que contam a guerra. Estas narrativas descrevem as
guerras a partir de um olhar que está à margem do campo de poder e parecem
ser duplamente contrastadas pelo distanciamento crítico que se coloca em razão
da voz à margem da ideologia hegemônica e da alternância do foco narrativo.
Evita quando procura o caminho da denúncia explicitamente se coloca:
Não sou parva, percebo tudo, sei com as vistas largas que a África do Sul
quer que a extrema do poder branco passe pelas colónias portuguesas,…
vou dizer o que penso dos jornalistas que sabem que se está a cometer
um crime público, calculado, sem que ninguém levante a voz. (JORGE,
2004. p.133)
Em relação ao romance moçambicano, destacamos Minosse que demonstra
momentos de extrema lucidez, ainda que em meio a atitudes de completo alhea-
mento perante o grupo de sobreviventes da aldeia de Mananga: “Minosse pensa
nos mistérios da vida. Nos destinos dos homens. A força do pensamento coloca-
-a no centro do mundo” (CHIZIANE, 1999.p.255). É notável o modo como as per-
sonagens se colocam perante os acontecimentos que lhes rodeiam, conscientes
da posição que lhes é imposta, mas também das possibilidades de transgressão
e ruptura com a ordem estabelecida, permitindo-lhes a reconstrução de suas
identidades.
A costa dos murmúrios conta a história de uma jovem portuguesa, Evita, que
vai para Moçambique casar-se com seu noivo alferes, Luís Alex. Este será enviado
para o combate em Cabo Delgado, ao norte do país. A missão tem como objetivo
rechaçar as forças revolucionárias locais e impedi-las de alcançarem o restante
do território. Enquanto isso a jovem esposa aguarda o regresso do alferes, ao
lado de outras mulheres e famílias de oficiais portugueses. Esta seria uma primei-
ra leitura superficial que por certo se moldaria perfeitamente a um discurso
oficial na sua conveniência e placidez. A exatidão e a veracidade do “cheiro e
do som” dos fatos que compõem o relato, como Eva Lopo descreve, espelham
ironicamente as verdades inventadas para o discurso oficial. Ao questionar
imagens e idéias estereotipadas desta versão oficial, a personagem narradora
propõe uma releitura dos fatos, e nesta ruptura o romance assume um destino
provocativo e instaurador de respostas e novas questões. Esse movimento revolu-
cionário da narrativa permite a redenção pela palavra expondo a real dimensão
de algumas verdades que pertencem a todos.
Do exíguo espaço do quarto de hotel para as ruas periféricas da cidade da
Beira, Evita empreende uma série de transgressões que culminam na ruptura
A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos de guerra 93

maior que se dá pelo adultério. Trata-se de um percurso revelador do início ao


fim do romance em que a personagem mergulhada na solidão do quarto de
tabique ou na companhia do jornalista Sabino desautoriza o discurso identitário
salazarista, e descobre a si mesma ao se distanciar do noivo e das verdades
impostas pelo regime ditatorial. Regressando ao passado, Eva descortina o mundo
de Evita e aponta para a sociedade portuguesa em ruínas que produz tipos como
Forza Leal e Alex. A narrativa não possui uma ordenação linear e segue um ritmo
próprio, de característica subjetiva ordenada pelo fluxo de memória, ao contrário
do que ocorre na primeira parte do romance, “Os gafanhotos”, que possui uma
ordem temporal linear. Esse conflito temporal existente entre as duas narrativas
que compõem o romance parece apontar para a necessidade da personagem Eva
em regressar ao passado e revisar a sua identidade através do questionamento
do seu casamento e da sua presença em África. E numa perspectiva ampliada
dessa observação, acreditamos poder dizer também que está sendo questionada
a função dos portugueses em África e a identidade nacional portuguesa, que a
partir de então terá de ser repensada apenas nos parâmetros geográficos do
continente europeu, e não mais voltada para o além-mar.
É de se notar a construção da narrativa em que o primeiro relato dos aconte-
cimentos é realizado por uma voz masculina, a do jornalista Sabino, exausti-
vamente questionada por Eva Lopo, a voz feminina que conduz a narrativa da
segunda parte do romance. A partir de uma visão intermediada da Guerra
Colonial por meio de seu relacionamento com Helena de Tróia e do exame das
fotografias obtidas em operações militares, Eva expõe e explora outras frentes
de combate, permitindo ao leitor uma perspectiva instauradora de um novo
contar.
Por sua vez, Ventos do apocalipse conta a história da fuga dos sobreviventes
de uma aldeia no interior de Moçambique, após sofrer um massacre de um grupo
armado. Como num caleidoscópio, as personagens se alternam pela narrativa
permitindo uma leitura abrangente das experiências plurais da guerra, o que
dificulta a determinação de uma personagem que protagonize uma única história
no romance. Na verdade são variadas histórias contadas ao longo do romance e
que se sobrepõe ao fio narrativo. Estas pequenas histórias são como numerosos
fios que unidos formam o tecido da sociedade moçambicana com as suas tradi-
ções e seus conflitos. Entendemos nesta dinâmica uma forma de centralizar as
atenções do leitor sobre os próprios “ventos do apocalipse” que podem ser lidos
como o terror da guerra, a violência desmedida até mesmo entre irmãos, a fome
e as desgraças multiplicadas rapidamente por todos os caminhos.
Para realizar a análise do romance consideramos como fio narrativo princi-
pal a história de Minosse, última mulher do régulo Sianga, cujas desventuras e
desgraças acompanhamos em meio à trágica carnificina que se abate sobre a sua
94 Débora Leite David

aldeia, Mananga. Este seria o pagamento devido pelo pecado do esquecimento


dos antepassados e das tradições. O poder usurpado pelos jovens revolucionários,
o desrespeito aos mais velhos e aos rituais são alguns dos elementos de ruptura
da tradição que permeiam a narrativa. Depois do massacre, os sobreviventes da
aldeia de Mananga iniciam a busca por uma terra prometida em que possam
resgatar a sua dignidade e os seus valores, mas que acabará por trazer-lhes um
destino trágico. Ao longo de toda a narrativa podemos encontrar diversas tentati-
vas de conciliação entre o velho e o novo, ou podemos dizer, entre a tradição e
a modernidade. Mas essa ansiada conciliação resulta infrutífera, pois que
interrompida pelas sucessivas tragédias.
Diferentemente do romance de Lídia Jorge, Ventos do apocalipse traz a visão
de um sujeito feminino que está muito mais próximo do combate. Com imagens
literárias prenhes de cor, cheiro e som como diz Eva Lopo, deparamo-nos com
variadas situações de guerra. Enquanto na narrativa portuguesa temos uma visão
indireta através de fotografias e relatos, na narrativa moçambicana o leitor é
colocado na linha de tiro, participando como espectador privilegiado de cada
cena. Ressalvadas as instâncias possíveis da metaficção historiográfica e do
romance histórico, as cenas de guerra transmitem uma visão desses tempos histó-
ricos e dos supostos "heróis" que os construíram. O romance moçambicano vai
além, trazendo para junto do leitor mais do que mulheres que são reconhecidas
apenas numa perspectiva coletiva e anônima. Trata-se de um sujeito feminino
que também luta ainda que com mãos nuas e quebra os elos do ciclo da vida,
interrompendo a linha da renovação e do renascimento de que é guardião.

1 Os estilhaços identitários
A dinâmica que podemos encontrar nas narrativas em cotejo, em que se
alternam permanentemente a desconstrução de figuras e discursos hegemônicos
e a sua reconstrução a partir da perspectiva da margem em que está inserido o
sujeito feminino, parece-nos um movimento instaurador para a recriação do mito
e sua possível relação com a reinvenção da tradição e das identidades.
A par da desconstrução da figura do herói que ocorre nas duas narrativas, as
figuras femininas participam de modo nuclear nas respectivas tramas. Em comum,
existem as mulheres consideradas coletivamente e aquelas anônimas que se
denominam por seu pertencimento a um marido ou por uma particular condição.
Uma espécie de distorção imagética em que as mulheres — como figuras em
borrão, são deslocadas de suas próprias referências identitárias. No entanto, ao
longo das narrativas ocorre a reconfiguração dessas identidades que coexistem
e dialogam ativamente com as situações sociais que lhes servem de referência.
Nesse percurso de revelação e afirmação identitárias estão, por exemplo, as
A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos de guerra 95

personagens Eva Lopo e Helena de Tróia, em A costa dos murmúrios, Minosse e


Mara, em Ventos do apocalipse. Como exemplo dessa denominação desperso-
nalizada das mulheres encontramos no romance português algumas expressões
como “as mulheres do Stella”, “as raparigas de cabelo passado a ferro”, ou ainda,
“uma mulher de alferes”, “a mulher do major”, entre outras. No romance
moçambicano, por sua vez, vemos que a denominação que despersonaliza é ainda
acompanhada de uma carga negativa como se percebe na expressão “mulheres
rebeldes” ou ainda, “a mulher é a causa de todos os males do mundo; é do seu
ventre que nascem os feiticeiros, as prostitutas”.1
Este aspecto da ausência de nomeação, de atribuição de nome próprio às
personagens femininas em determinados trechos das narrativas, parece mostrar,
outrossim, a iniciativa de destacar a exclusão, o apagamento do indivíduo que
está sendo colocado à sombra, e assim a imposição do silenciamento de sua voz.
Corrobora esta impressão a colocação feita por Lévi-Strauss, em que o nome
próprio é formado pela fragmentação da espécie e pelo levantamento de um
aspecto parcial. Deste modo, o nome próprio caracteriza-se por ser uma marca
de individualização ao identificar o sujeito que é nomeado. Além desse aspecto,
o nome próprio indica, outrossim, o pertencimento do sujeito a uma classe pré-
determinada (família, classe social, clã, meio cultural, nacionalidade, etc.), ou
seja, a sua inclusão em um grupo específico.2 Por isso, o nome próprio é a marca
lingüística pela qual o grupo toma posse do indivíduo e a falta desta marca
importa em exclusão, em banimento, destacando a supremacia da autoridade e
poder do grupo. Ainda refletindo acerca da importância dos nomes, é de observar
características psicossociais na própria nomeação das personagens centrais dos
romances — Eva Lopo e Minosse, pois convergem para as mesmas, sistemas de
atributações que se explicitam no nome a elas atribuído pela enunciação.
Eva Lopo, a mulher portuguesa que acompanha o alferes para se casar no
ultramar, carrega em seu nome duas referências fortes. A primeira delas é a
referência bíblica da primeira mulher — Eva, que deve a sua existência à costela
do primeiro homem, Adão. O nome do gênero feminino por excelência em sua
origem e tradição judaico-cristã e ocidental, mas também na sua condição
inferior, frágil e de dependência, e porque não dizer, também na sua condição de
culpa e desgraça eterna pelo pecado original e conseqüente expulsão do Paraíso.
É interessante notar a transformação em maturidade e consciência sugerida pela
alteração da nomeação da personagem central em A costa dos murmúrios.

1 CHIZIANE, Paulina. Ventos do apocalipse. Lisboa: Caminho, 1999, p. 92.

2 LÉVI-STRAUSS, Claude. La pensée sauvage. Paris: Pocket, 2002.


96 Débora Leite David

Jovem, crédula e alheia às razões e aos desmandos do Império Português, a


personagem é tratada pelo diminutivo de seu nome — Evita, no relato que inicia
o romance, intitulado “Os gafanhotos”. Como todas as outras mulheres, é
também mulher de alguém, no caso, do alferes Luís Alex. No entanto, ao fim do
referido relato passa a ser tratada por “Eva Lopo”, diminuindo a despersona-
lização presente na primeira parte do romance. Essa é uma das características
marcantes da crescente afirmação identitária feminina que podemos encontrar
ao longo do romance.
No caso da personagem Minosse, em Ventos do apocalipse, ainda que Paulina
Chiziane atribua a inspiração desta personagem a uma das vítimas da Guerra Civil
na aldeia de Mananga ao norte de Moçambique, ocasião em que obteve grande
parte do material que lhe serviu de referência para a escrita do romance, é
inegável a coincidência com bases históricas de outra tradição na nomeação
dessa personagem. Minosse é também a designação na língua italiana de Minos
— rei de Creta, que encomendou a Dédalus a construção de um labirinto para
encerrar o filho de sua esposa Pasífae, o Minotauro. Fato este que nos remete ao
adágio contido no prólogo do romance moçambicano, designado como “ditado
dos tempos do velho Império de Gaza”, que diz: “mata, que amanhã faremos
outro”, referindo-se à imposição que se coloca à mulher para matar os próprios
filhos pequenos que choram e denunciam ao inimigo a localização dos fugitivos.
Minosse sobrevive a inúmeras desgraças e vê morrerem seus filhos, seus
netos e o seu senhor. Sem nenhum laço que a prenda ao mundo dos vivos, Minosse
contempla livremente os sobreviventes de sua aldeia, que na fuga empreendida
conhecem condições que os fazem desacreditar em sua própria identidade como
ser humano. A caminhada que durará vinte e um dias, torna-se uma descida ao
inferno da existência humana, e tudo se quebra: a fidelidade aos defuntos, as leis
da tribo, o orgulho do homem, todas as normas mais elementares da vida humana.
Isolada em uma realidade mágica que lhe aparta dos terríveis sofrimentos,
Minosse retornará a sua plena consciência e ao convívio com os demais sobre-
viventes apenas quando encontrar um menino órfão a quem, com desvelo cuidará
e embalará contando “historiazinhas fantásticas”.

Conclusão
Estas duas figuras femininas centrais dos romances A costa dos murmúrios e
Ventos do apocalipse, que são Eva Lopo e Minosse, representam a busca pela
reconstrução do “eu” esmagado pela guerra, na tentativa de emergir e transpor
uma realidade de dupla opressão que é a condição da mulher inserida no contexto
do conflito armado. No tocante à construção formal dos romances, a represen-
tação fragmentada apresenta-se fortemente ligada às questões de sobreposição
A viagem na reconstrução das identidades em tempos de guerra 97

temporal e o caráter testemunhal do narrador. A existência das personagens


femininas no âmbito dos romances estudados difere em razão da especial relação
que cada uma tem com o decorrer do tempo da narração. Estas personagens
vivem no presente da narração, muito embora voltadas sempre para um passado
perturbador ou envolvidas por um devir utópico, um futuro melhor fortemente
desejado. O presente assim está permeado pela insignificância e pela insatisfa-
ção, numa interminável construção, o que leva a uma leitura negativa da situação
destas personagens femininas que não alcançam um êxito final. A sobreposição
temporal, que carreia consigo uma ruptura à existência linear, promove então
uma relação dialética entre as faixas temporais e suas peculiaridades. Esse movi-
mento parece proporcionar a problematização e a reconstrução das identidades,
na medida em que o passado é revisitado e revisado para compreender o presente,
mas também para reformular valores éticos, comportamentos e atitudes, e assim
permitir ao menos a discussão continuada da situação do sujeito feminino e suas
identidades.

Bibliografia
ANDERSON, Benedict. Nação e consciência nacional. São Paulo: Ática, 1989.
CHIZIANE, Paulina. Ventos do apocalipse. Lisboa: Caminho, 1999.
JORGE, Lídia. A costa dos murmúrios. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2004.
LÉVI-STRAUSS, Claude. La pensée sauvage. Paris: Pocket, 2002.
Literatura e imprensa nas relações Ibero-Afro-
-Brasileiras: percurso de uma escritora viajante.

ELISABETH BATISTA*
UNEMAT/CNPq

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


* Doutora na área de Estudos Comparados de Literaturas de Língua Portuguesa pela FFLCH da
Universidade de São Paulo (2007). Professora Pesquisadora (CNPq 2007-2009) em regime de
Dedicação Exclusiva. Literatura e imprensa como fatores de aproximação cultural nas relações
Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras, com textos publicados e cursos ministrados na área. Professora da área
de literatura no Departamento de Letras— Campus Universitário de Cáceres da Universidade
do Estado de Mato Grosso, Av. São João s/n, Fone (005565) 8121-5070 e /ou 3223-0261.
lisbatys@uol.com.br
A
o longo do século XX, o Brasil foi receptor de grandes fluxos migratórios,
dentre os quais se destaca em número, pela sua dimensão o que tinha
Portugal como país de origem. No percurso de relações fraternas e também
político-ideológicas entre os portugueses e brasileiros, o Brasil foi um dos princi-
pais portos de acolhimento de imigrantes políticos opositores ao regime salaza-
rista. Haja em vista, o notável apoio que o grupo de intelectuais portugueses
exilados em São Paulo, na década de 50, recebeu da parte de Júlio Mesquita, do
Jornal O Estado de S. Paulo1, que mantinha amplas relações de amizade com
João Sarmento Pimentel, Jaime Cortesão e Antonio Sérgio.
O diretor de OESP, durante o período em que era difícil denunciar no Brasil
o regime de Salazar, abriu colunas do jornal e acabou admitindo no seu quadro
funcional, muitos intelectuais e jornalistas imigrantes exilados, sobretudo no
período mais áspero da opressão do Estado Novo: os anos 50 e 60.
Jornais e revistas especializadas constituíram-se em lugar de inscrição de
textos de imprensa produzidos por esses intelectuais que, assim, além de seus
exercícios profissionais, desempenharam também, cumulativamente, funções
específicas de jornalistas.
O presente trabalho coloca-se como mais um esforço no sentido de reco-
nhecer e dar visibilidade à diversidade cultural brasileira geradas a partir das
relações Ibero-afro-brasileiras, a partir do século XX, período em que se estrati-
ficou as sociedades imaginadas e a conseqüente construção da imagem do outro,
neste sentido, esta comunicação dá notícia da pesquisa que venho desenvolvendo,
junto ao Grupo de Pesquisa Questões históricas e Compreensão da Literatura
e Cultura Brasileira, associado ao CEPLIT— Centro de Pesquisas em Literatura
da UNEMAT— Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso.
Há uma grande movimentação no meio acadêmico e jornalístico, em várias
regiões do Brasil, em torno da preparação do bicentenário da Imprensa Brasi-
leira, em 2008. Trata-se de uma iniciativa importante para agendar o debate
sobre um dos mais significativos fenômenos da humanidade — a Imprensa e suas

1 A partir de agora, ao nos referirmos ao jornal O Estado de S. Paulo utilizaremos as iniciais


OESP.
102 Elisabeth Batista

especificidades no Brasil. Nosso intento pretende apontar algumas reflexões


sobre as interfaces entre literatura e imprensa nas relações entre os países que
mantêm o português como língua de comunicação.

Depois de se sentirem no centro dos acontecimentos em Portugal, em uma


conjuntura de repressão maiúscula à liberdade de expressão do pensamento,
o exílio foi, para as gerações de 1950 a 1970, a ruptura com uma realidade e
o desenraizamento do universo de referências que dera sentido à luta contra o
regime de Salazar.
A aparente derrota de um projeto político e pessoal perante a ditadura
Salazarista, o estranhamento em relação à cultura brasileira, as dificuldades de
adaptação à nova sociedade, em conjunto contribuíam para subverter a imagem
que o exilado tinha de si mesmo, desencadeando as previsíveis crises de identi-
dade. Acrescente-se a tudo isso, os entraves sociais.
A situação social do “imigrante político” após a Segunda Guerra é observada
por Douglas Mansur da Silva em sua Dissertação de Mestrado em Antropologia
Social. Aí se analisa a ambiência social que envolvia os exilados portugueses, nem
sempre isenta de alguma hostilidade por parte de conterrâneos residentes em
terras brasileiras, com ligações expressas ao Regime vigente.
Algo do ambiente com que se defrontam, neste momento, é também uma
reelaboração do período anterior à guerra. É o caso da “guerrilha velada”
aos exilados anti-salazaristas, travadas por representações consulares
e algumas associações da colônia, como a Federação das Associações
Portuguesas (fundada em 1931), que atuam como verdadeiros agentes do
regime. Esse é também o caso, em São Paulo, da Casa de Portugal (fundada
em 1935) e do consulado português dessa cidade.

Tendo nascido no limiar do século XX (1899), Maria Archer viveu parte de sua vida
entre Portugal e África. Contactou direta ou indiretamente com as correntes de
pensamento que influenciaram ou afetaram de forma intensa o ambiente cultural
português até meados dos anos cinqüenta. Nosso trabalho intenta recuperar
como a produção criativa da autora, ao criar abertura para um diálogo entre a
literatura e a imprensa circunscreveu-se na construção da imagem do outro nas
relações entre as “sociedades imaginadas”.
Depois de uma viagem de dez dias a bordo do navio Santa Maria, veio Maria
Archer a desembarcar, no porto de Santos, em 15 de julho de 1955, para cumprir
uma longa estada de 22 anos no Brasil. No Consulado Geral do Brasil em Lisboa,
recebeu o visto temporário com validade por 90 dias na categoria de turista, que
a impedia de vir a exercer qualquer atividade remunerada no Brasil.
A lusitana viajada, jornalista, tradutora, conferencista, que viveu em Angola,
Guiné-Bissau, Niassa, Luanda transfere-se para a outra margem do Atlântico,
Literatura e imprensa nas relações Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras: percurso de uma escritora viajante 103

aonde vem a fixar-se a partir de então. O sentimento de novidade que acompa-


nha a viajante, ao se deslocar para uma paisagem diferente, não logrou dissipar
o sentimento de inadaptação dos primeiros tempos e as vicissitudes de um
passado recente.
Seis meses após o desembarque, em entrevista ao jornal carioca Diário de
Notícias, na edição datada de 15-01-1956, descreve o ambiente hostil e opressivo
de Portugal e falou do motivo do seu exílio no Brasil:
Vim para o Brasil, tendo chegado dia 15-07-1955, porque já não podia
viver em Portugal. A ação da censura asfixiou-me e tirou-me os meios de
vida. Apreenderam-me dois livros publicados, assaltaram-me com policiais
a casa e levaram-me um original que ainda estava escrevendo, violência
inédita em países de civilização européia. (Diário de Notícias, 15-01-1956)
Uma vez no Brasil, Maria Archer inconformada com o modelo cultural que encerra
o padrão da feminilidade previsto para a portuguesa na época do Estado Novo,
padrão este que apóia na teoria de que a dependência e a subserviência são
inerentes à condição feminina, escreveu e publicou obras voltadas para a di-
vulgação da cultura dos países em que viveu e que mantêm o português como
língua de comunicação. Mais ainda, produziu artigos em jornais, sementes de
contestação ao domínio salazarista em Portugal, discursos, crônicas e palestras
radiofônicas.
Em Portugal, a escrita de Maria Archer tem pouca visibilidade, mesmo a
família, não se preocupou, na época em preservar a “memória” da autora. Assim
é o caso para se refletir porquê essa autora e as suas obras de inegável qualidade
foram apagadas na memória de um tempo crivado de silêncio e relegada ao mais
completo esquecimento.
Através desta vida passam também, necessariamente, a vida de uma época:
o espaço humano, existencial, cultural e geográfico do qual Maria Archer é, para
este trabalho, o centro.
Não se pode ver a sua obra fora da época que a produziu, fora do clima
cultural que tanto em Portugal como em São Paulo deram origem às grandes revo-
luções políticas e culturais, e que registra os nomes de Adolfo Casais Monteiro,
Sidónio Muralha, Jorge de Sena, Castro Soromenho, Maria Archer, Mário Henrique
Leiria, para não falar de muitos outros que não foram certamente menos impor-
tantes na história das idéias e da construção da imagem do outro nas relações
Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras em nosso país. Mas naturalmente, a par da história, este
trabalho abre as janelas das suas páginas sobre as imagens da história política
de Portugal escritas do outro lado do Atlântico, onde se poderá ler o Estado Novo,
o Salazarismo, a partir do olhar da escritora: uma comentadora atenta, anti-
conformista, extremamente viva e participante: A finalidade desta pesquisa,
encontra-se circunscrita também, no esforço de recuperação da contribuição
104 Elisabeth Batista

de Maria Archer para a crítica ao regime do seu país de origem na imprensa


brasileira.
Partimos de um diversificado painel de pontos de interesses aparentemente
divergentes, no conjunto da produção literária e das crônicas para os jornais nos
países de língua portuguesa, cujas obras transcendem as fronteiras nacionais e
étnicas —África/Portugal/Brasil — e, pudemos encontrar um farto repertório
temático à disposição dos leitores, consubstanciado na maior riqueza de gêneros,
desde livros infantis, novelas de cunho sentimental, romances, ensaios, crônicas,
relatos de viagens, até teatro e traduções.
Interessa-nos identificar, na fértil iniciativa criadora no período do exílio em
nosso país, o princípio estruturante da construção da imagem do outro nas
relações Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras, sob o olhar desta escritora lusitana alí radicada,
por duas décadas.
O estudo aprofundado de sua contribuição para o desenvolvimento da cultura
nos países que se comunicam através da Língua Portuguesa contribui para
entender a forma como a escritora se adapta à realidade cultural portuguesa e
brasileira. A classificação e descrição analítica dos artigos publicados na imprensa
no Brasil permitem identificar se o conteúdo, bem como suas contribuições à
imprensa local podem ser consideradas essenciais ou subsidiárias.
Este percurso, que teve seus primeiros passos a intenção de catalogar toda
contribuição da autora à imprensa brasileira, levou-nos, conseqüentemente a um
inventário de sua atuação junto ao núcleo de exilados portugueses no Brasil.
Os textos de Maria Archer dialogam entre si e com outras esferas culturais
numa feliz expressão da riqueza do pensamento crítico e de olhar atento sobre
a modernidade. E ainda, os encontros Portugal/Brasil/África passam a ser de
interação pelas experiências compartilhadas e, nas suas peculiaridades, tratam
da maneira como a Europa, o Continente Africano e a América do Sul se vêem,
se imaginam e se mesclam, pois “a convivência com o diverso leva ao diálogo
com o outro eu”, segundo Benjamin Abdala Jr.
Consideramos a trajetória, o árduo caminho percorrido por Maria Archer, um
protótipo do percurso oneroso da mulher que se quisesse escritora em meados
do século passado. Contudo, a despeito de todos os obstáculos à mulher na
condição de escritora, seus textos comunicam sentimento de vida e transmitem
a sua consciência social.
Percebemos um considerável número de textos empenhados na peculia-
ridade criativa e trato com a linguagem que a literatura de autoria feminina do
século XX, ainda pouco estudada apresenta com marcante evidência e que
provoca um dos mais fortes diálogos entre as literaturas brasileira, portuguesa e
africana. Mas a autora motiva pesquisas, também, em outras perspectivas, como
a questão da exclusão, das contingências históricas, políticas e culturais.
Literatura e imprensa nas relações Ibero-Afro-Brasileiras: percurso de uma escritora viajante 105

Sendo Portugal a metrópole comum colonizadora do Brasil e da África tão


elucidada nas obras de Maria Archer, buscamos desenvolver reflexões esclare-
cedoras sobre as soluções estéticas que esses universos culturais têm interagido
no âmbito das produções criativas da autora.
Com este trabalho esperamos ter aguçado a curiosidade de leitores sobre a
obra da escritora, exilada por mais de duas décadas em São Paulo nunca antes,
estudada no Brasil e assim chamar a atenção para mais um nome da literatura
de autoria feminina pouco estudado nos países que têm o português como língua
de comunicação. Para além da investigação, a pesquisa poderá constituir um
contributo tanto para o conhecimento da escritora como para o das relações
literárias entre Portugal e Brasil, que urge aprofundar.
De Muhipiti a “Lisabona”: a Inadiável Viagem
da Poesia

JESSICA FALCONI
Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


D
e Muhipiti a “Lisabona” cumpre-se a inadiável viagem da poesia de Luís
Carlos Patraquim «quando — como ele próprio diria — os arquipélagos de
ser dizem barco», e é em Barcos Elementares que o seu olhar poético viaja
à procura de perguntas, para explorar o território das margens, aqueles espaços
brancos e vazios que, para Anne McClintock, podem ser lidos como marcas iró-
nicas e reveladoras da falácia dos mapas (27-28): aqueles espaços brancos que
perturbam os cartógrafos e convidam os poetas. É para troçar desse falso sossego
dos espaços brancos que a poesia se faz viagem e tenta substituir velhos e novos
mapas, fazendo das margens um lugar de interrogação, de busca estética e
identitária no intuito de reinterpretar os mapas, nas palavras de Graham Huggan,
já não «as a means of spatial containment or systematic organization, but as a
medium of spatial perception which allows for the reformulation of links within
and between cultures» (356).
N’Os Barcos Elementares1, conjunto de fragmentos que cruzam as fronteiras
entre poesia e prosa, desconstruindo, para além dos mapas, também os géneros
literários, sobrepõem-se múltiplas viagens, e a sua evocação é a estratégia para
construir um novo itinerário: é evidente, de facto, o jogo intertextual e antropo-
fágico com outro livro que experimenta o cruzamento de linguagens diferentes.
Referimo-nos ao diálogo entre poesia e fotografia que compõe A Ilha de Próspero.
Roteiro poético da Ilha de Moçambique de Rui Knopfli, que por sua vez evoca e
reiventa as viagens dos portugueses a África, dialogando, via Tempestade, com
Os Lusíadas e Mensagem.
Publicado no ano de 1972, entre o fim do Império e o surgimento da Nação,
A Ilha de Próspero de Rui Knopfli é mais uma História Trágico-Marítima da
expansão portuguesa que, de alguma maneira, tenta preencher os espaços vazios
dos mapas e das histórias coloniais ao recuperar fragmentos e vozes de uma intra-
-história do tempo colonial em Moçambique. Ao reconstruir o mosaico histórico
e cultural da Ilha de Moçambique, ecoando as reivindicaçoes identitárias de
quantos ali viveram e morreram, Rui Knopfli prefigura e anuncia os conflitos da
futura ex-colónia e a crise da identidade pós-imperial. A Ilha é representada, de

1 A secção Os Barcos Elementares encontra-se no terceiro livro de poemas de Luís Carlos


Patraquim, Vinte e Tal Novas Formulações e Uma Elegia Carnívora.
110 Jessica Falconi

facto, como lugar de desencontros, onde entre Próspero e Caliban não há vence-
dores nem vencidos, porque cada um dos segmentos sociais e culturais presentes
reivindica a sua hegemonia no espaço colonial, o seu papel na História, recriando
uma polifonia linguística e arquitectónica que traduz a polifonia identitária e
desafia e desconstrói as próprias noções de identidade, autenticidade e pertença.
É assim que Próspero e Caliban não resolvem, para Knopfli, as complexidades
presentes no espaço colonial moçambicano, representadas através de persona-
gens como os pedreiros de Diu, vindos para trabalharem para a edificação do
Império; o Governador dom Estévão de Ataíde, «que mal percebia as indistintas
feições do reino», Jorge Mariz, voz trágica da expansão ou ainda Luís de Camões,
que fugia, «por certo, ao brasido de S. Sebastião/até ao outro extremo, na Ponta
da Ilha»2.
Herdeiro de Rui Knopfli e da sua viagem, Luís Carlos Patraquim traça o seu
roteiro no espaço já pós-colonial com uma partida que é já um regresso. Da Ilha,
e para a Ilha, a viagem começa mas nunca acaba. No poema “Muhipiti”, a Ilha
aparece na sua dimensão mítica de lugar de pacificação: «É onde deponho todas
as armas. Uma palmeira/ harmonizando-nos o sonho. A sombra./ Onde eu mesmo
estou. Devagar e nu. Sobre as ondas eternas». Mas logo, este mesmo espaço torna-
-se o teatro de uma profunda e total desestabilização do Eu e da sua identidade:
O teu nome que grito a rir do nome./Do meu nome anulado./As vozes que
te anunciam./E me perco. E estou nu./Devagar. Dentro do corpo. […]
É onde sei a maxila que sangra. Onde os leopardos/ naufragam. O tempo.
O cigarro a metralhar/ nos pulmões. A terra empapada. Golfando. (33)

Se, como afirma Margarida Calafate Ribeiro, Os Lusíadas celebram a viagem como
descoberta e afirmação da identidade portuguesa, por oposição ao Outro (34), a
poesia de Rui Knopfli e de Luís Carlos Patraquim, pelo contrário, remete para
aquela dimensão subversiva da viagem que, para além de desconstruir os mapas
e as narrativas coloniais, desafia e põe em crise a unidade e a estabilidade do
Eu. Para Eric J. Leeds, de facto, «travel is clearly subversive of the assumption
implicit in all social structures that an individual has one, real, consistent persona
and character» (p. 276), tal como John Phillips afirma que a narrativa de viagem
«concerns situations in which the stability of the self is often challenged» (p. 64).
Assim, no poema “Through the looking glass” Rui Knopfli corre atrás da sua própria
imagem e da história da Ilha através dos espelhos, interrogando-se sobre a sua
realidade e permanência:

2 No poema “Esclarecimento a certo passo obscuro de uma biografia”, Knopfli imagina a estada
de Camões na Ilha de Moçambique e sua frequentação do bairro da Ponta da Ilha, onde
costumava morar a população não-branca da Ilha.
De Muhipiti a “Lisabona”: a Inadiável Viagem da Poesia 111

Imobilizado um instante entre o paralelismo/ dos espelhos persigo o


ziguezague/da imagem fugidia ressoando/entre caixilhos que, progressi-
vamente, vão/diminuindo até ao minúsculo ponto/que a vista não abarca
ou determina […] Irei a tempo ainda de alcançar/ algo desses vestígios
residuais/ que se diz permanecerem na memória/ em prata e vidro dos
espelhos? (73).

De maneira semelhante, n’Os Barcos Elementares, a viagem de Luís Carlos


Patraquim torna-se errância e peregrinação interrogante nesse lugar originário,
matricial, «primeiro tema para cantar», onde se encena uma confrontação do
Eu com a História e com a memória do passado colonial, que explica e revela as
contradições da identidade no presente. Se a viagem implica a busca identitária,
o encontro com as origens, na Ilha de Moçambique, gera uma dimensão de ambi-
guidade em que o Eu se debate entre a conciliação e a luta, entre a pacificação
e a recusa, a rebeldia contra essa mesma identidade, a perda do Eu e o des-
norteamento:
Não me digam nada. Esqueçam-me, anónimo, sem história, aqui peixe
emerso, cardume denso fazendo-me no dia-a-dia imperativo de meus
plânctones inglórios. […] Sei as circunvalações das vidas que fui, cúmplice
de senhores mas escravo, coral que me perderam. Peixe de mim conci-
liado. … porque aqui me esqueço do que me querem. Da história que me
fizeram e fui. (43)

É esse mesmo desnorteamento que protagoniza mais uma viagem à Ilha, recente
e feminina, para a qual se pede um passaporte, o do coração. Mais um roteiro
poético e identitário é o Passaporte do Coração de Ana Mafalda Leite, “passageiro
em livre transito” para quem a Ilha é uma declinação de memórias íntimas e
literárias: «de tanto sentir os teus lugares imaginei-os algures fora dos mapas
e perdi-me nos caminhos procurando cartas de achamento» (31). Subvertendo
o tópico ocidental da Penélope que aguarda, a poesia de Ana Mafalda Leite
empreende um novo mapeamento da paisagem física e simbólica da Ilha de
Moçambique, reconstruindo cheiros, sabores, lendas, tecidos, línguas, cores
entre os quais o Eu se perde numa sinfonia dos sentidos orquestrada pelo coração:
«vou neste desprendimento que é quase cegueira visto-me da claridade da noite
da aspereza dos dias da terrível orfandade de ser» (46).
Se para Ana Mafalda Leite o desnorteamento e esta espécie de orfandade
identitária são representadas como condições de liberdade proporcionando um
encontro descomplexado com a polifonia cultural da Ilha de Moçambique e de
todo o país, com a memória literária e com o passado, na poesia de Luís Carlos
Patraquim, entre Os Barcos Elementares e O Osso Côncavo, o desnorteamento e
a perda do Eu são estratégias para questionar constantemente a relação entre o
centro e a periferia do ex-Império português.
112 Jessica Falconi

Assim, um percurso não linear, uma viagem de regressos inconcluídos põe


em relação a antiga capital da colónia, Ilha de Moçambique, com o antigo suposto
centro do Império, “Lisabona”. Longe de serem centros homogéneos estrutura-
dores de identidades unitárias, ambas as cidades são construídas como lugares
da diferença, do desencontro, da contradição. Através da evocação e
sobreposição de diferentes tempos históricos, Luís Carlos Patraquim cruza e
desafia, ao mesmo tempo, o antigo universalismo imperial, a retórica da unidade
nacional e a recente noção de lusofonia, mostrando as cumplicidades e os nexos
ideológicos que ligam essas ideias pela releitura que faz desses lugares. De facto,
ao evocar a antiga capital da colónia, Os Barcos Elementares cumprem um acto
de desmistificação da missão imperial e da sua retórica da unidade, recuperando
e pondo em evidência, por um lado, a violência colonial, por outro, a força de
resistência ao poder por parte de elementos culturais outros que permanecem
até ao presente, o discurso desmistificatório realizando-se através do diálogo
com a própria Ilha, pelo qual a poesia verbaliza as histórias inscritas no espaço:
De oriente a oriente flagelaste o interior da terra. De Calicut e Lisboa a
lança que o vento lascivo trilou em nocturnos, espasmódicos duelos e a
dúvida retraduzindo-se agora entre campanário e minarete. Muezzin
alcandorado, inconquistável. Porque ao princípio era o mar e a Ilha.
Sindbad e Ulisses. Xerazzade e Penelope. Nomes sobre nomes. Língua de
línguas em Macua matriciadas. (52)

“Ilha de nomes tantos” diria Francisco José Tenreiro, Muhipiti macua, Mulbaiuni
árabe, Moçambique lusa e índica, essa Ilha de Próspero que Luís Carlos Patraquim
herda de Rui Knopfli configura-se como espaço onde se desfaz qualquer imagem
de unidade cultural, social ou linguística, tal como qualquer noção de autenti-
cidade. A Ilha de Patraquim é o lugar onde se entrecruzam diferentes e possíveis
narrativas do passado e do presente; narrativas em português, em macua ou
swahili, que vão preenchendo os espaços deixados em branco ao passo que
corroem a imagem de unidade veiculada antes pelo discurso colonial e depois
pela retórica oficial do Estado-nação independente. Frente a estes discursos
homogeneizadores, a viagem à Ilha proporciona ao sujeito poético a oportunidade
de convocar outra memórias, outras referências geográficas e culturais, outras
línguas para, nas palavras do poeta, «afugentar as sinuosas narrativas que mal
me disseram, confundiram» (47). É através da sobreposição dos elementos,
no conjunto das máscaras («máscara kabuki», diz Patraquim, «máscara de m’siro,
máscara desnudando máscaras, a oriente prenhe planta significando os séculos,
as linguagens», 46), e no conjunto das falas e das línguas que a Ilha toma corpo
como lugar da diferença, centro e periferia de si própria, antigo centro da
colónia, nova periferia da nação a que pertence.
De Muhipiti a “Lisabona”: a Inadiável Viagem da Poesia 113

“Do lado de cá” do Império, no seu suposto centro, a viagem da poesia


descobre e constrói outro espaço cultural e linguísticamente heterogéneo3: a
«Branca Lisabona emborcada a copos de três» (Patraquim, O Osso Côncavo 127),
onde, num jogo de sobreposições que nos lembra As Naus de António Lobo
Antunes, o olhar poético entrelaça e confunde o tempo do Império com o pre-
sente, a antiga metrópole «das abóbadas e dos arcos» com a cidade pós-colonial.
Nessa mistura de tempos históricos os próprios lugares sobrepõem-se, isto é, a
sincronia temporal dilui-se numa simultaneidade ao mesmo tempo geográfica
onde surgem lugares chamados «Queluz-Catembe» e o próprio “centro” chega a
ser «Lisabona de Luanda e Maputo». Assim, Lisboa aparece povoada por micaias
e imbondeiros, pelas «almadias e o grasnar das aves do Zambeze» (128), pelos
machimbombos de Moçambique. O espaço-tempo do poema torna-se então
espaço ambíguo de unidade e diferença, de uma unidade aparente em que as
diferenças não se resolvem. O tempo e o espaço do império e do seu fim, o centro
e a periferia, a colónia e a pós-colónia, longe de recriarem uma dimensão de
unidade acolhedora, remetem para o desnorteamento, a desestabilização, o
conflito. Como observa, de facto, Ana Mafalda Leite, esta sincronia cénica e
temporal funciona como construção de uma «sintaxe de reflexão sobre a diáspora
e as lusofonias»4, sobre antigos retornos e recentes imigraçoes. Se esta aparente
unidade espaço-temporal leva alguns estudiosos como Adelto Gonçalves a definir
Luís Carlos Patraquim como «poeta da lusofonia», a leitura que aqui se propõe
vai em direcção contrária.
O elemento que poderia perpetuar uma ligação e uma moderna versão de
unidade dos tempos e dos espaços é, de facto, a Língua. A Língua, que já foi o
centro ideal do Império, do Minho a Timor, do Brasil a Macau, e é hoje funda-
mento do discurso da lusofonia, na viagem da poesia entre Muhipiti e Lisabona
acaba, pelo contrário, estilhaçada. É precisamente no uso da Língua, na explo-
ração de diferentes espaços, tempos, estilos e registros da língua portuguesa, e
nas referências que a ela se fazem, que o texto de Patraquim denuncia a inexis-
tência dessa suposta unidade. Através da justaposição de elementos linguísticos
que quebram toda a hipótese de um espaço partilhado, a língua portuguesa,
suposta “pátria comum” em que apagar os antigos desencontros, torna-se o
verdadeiro espaço da diáspora e da diferença, território actual de tensões e
exílios, tal como a Lisboa dos recentes arrastões. «Em verdade, ó estuário largo,
tu é que és a ultramarina enseada» diz Patraquim, e apela, em jogo intertextual

3 O poema em análise é “Lisabona”, em O Osso Côncavo e Outros Poemas.


4 Posfácio a O Osso Côncavo e Outros Poemas, p. 184.
114 Jessica Falconi

com Camões, para que a própria cidade se abra «à turba que chega, canora e
não belicosa, vadia como tu, Língua que te empoas de gramáticas de castelão
devasso»(129). A língua portuguesa e a cidade de Lisboa funcionam assim como
os falsos centros do Império e da actual ideia da lusofonia, através dos quais
denunciar a permanência de conflitos e desencontros. E tal como para a cidade,
a voz poética de Luís Carlos Patraquim apela para que a Língua de Camões se
torne lugar de criatividade e de encontro, deixando de se imaginar como centro
para se abrir ao trabalho de reinvenção feito pelas “margens”: «O camoniano
fado, em verdade rasga-me esses versos por aí, tenórios/ e leva-nos co’as pragas
e a massinguita das Ethiópias perdidas,/ Ao mal-cozinhado, ao tempero finíssimo
de oitavos e tercetos…».
Trata-se de reformular os mapas das actuais relações no ex-Império português,
das novas formas de “apagamento autista da distância”, citando Antonio Manuel
Hespanha, que perpetuam representações homogeneizadoras que repropõem os
espaços em branco para onde relegar a alteridade . A isto, parece responder
Patraquim com os últimos versos do poema: «E limpa-me esse branco tão sujo,
ó ultramarina cidade, Lisboa alvoroçada!».
Entre Muhipiti e Lisabona, portanto, a viagem da poesia constrói a sua pró-
pria narrativa de diáspora, inscrevendo, nestes antigos centros, novas relações
e uma reflexão identitária não apenas pessoal, mas colectiva, apontando para
os perigos de velhas e novas ideologias, sobretudo recusando os velhos e os novos
mapas, para talvez dizer, com Fernando Pessoa: “Viajar! Perder países”.

Obras citadas
Gonçalves, Adelto. Patraquim, Poeta da Lusofonia. Storm Magazine, Instituto do Livro e
Das Bibliotecas, http://www.stormmagazine.com/novodb/arqmais.php?id=398&
sec=&secn=
Knopfli, Rui. A Ilha de Próspero. Lisboa: Edições 70, 1989 (1ª Ed. Lourenço Marques:
Minerva. Central, 1972)
Huggan, Graham. “Decolonizing the Map” The Post-colonial Studies Reader. Bill Ashcroft,
Gareth
Griffith and Helen Tiffin. London & New York: Routledge, 1995.
Leeds, Eric J. The Mind of the Traveler. New York: Basic Book,1991.
McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context.
London & New York: Routledge, 1995.
Leite, Ana Mafalda. Passaporte do Coração. Lisboa: Quetzal, 2002.
Patraquim, Luís Carlos. Vinte e Tal Novas Formulações e Uma Elegia Carnívora. Linda-a-
-Velha: ALAC, 1991.
De Muhipiti a “Lisabona”: a Inadiável Viagem da Poesia 115

———. O Osso Côncavo e Outros Poemas. Lisboa: Caminho, 2004.


Phillips, John. “Lagging Behind: Bhabha, Post-colonial Theory and the Future”. Ed. Steven
Clark. London: Zed Books, 1994.
Ribeiro, Margarida Calafate. Uma Viagem de Regressos. Porto: Afrontamento, 2004.
A viagem como criação de sentido: topografias
do Sul

LOLA GERALDES XAVIER


Escola Superior de Educação de Coimbra

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


«É através de Moçambique que eu vejo o mundo».
João Paulo Borges Coelho, Expresso África, 13/04/2006.

Pretende-se reflectir sobre o tema da viagem e sobre as injunções literárias que


daí decorrem a partir do escritor moçambicano João Paulo Borges Coelho,
sobretudo do último livro publicado, Hinyambaan. Numa altura em que conti-
nuam presentes as consequências xenófobas sul-africanas, parece pertinente
reflectir sobre as relações identitárias que se estabelecem no Sul, a partir do
olhar do próprio Sul.
Esta «novela burlesca» de João Paulo B. Coelho será o pretexto para a análise
da viagem enquanto factor desencadeador da construção da imagem do Outro e
do Próprio/Mesmo, bem como do embate do olhar do Local (no caso a cultura
tsonga) com o olhar do Estrangeiro (no caso a cultura africânder). O viajar,
enquanto deslocamento interior, só porque se é visitado, assim como a impor-
tância dos cheiros, dos sabores, dos costumes, etc. acentuam a representação
do convívio na diversidade entre a família branca sul-africana que viaja e os
negros moçambicanos que vai encontrando no caminho.

Tema clássico da literatura ocidental, a viagem esteve, quase sempre, arrai-


gada a uma forma de olhar o diferente, o Outro, direccionada a uma cartografia
geográfica e cultural distinta da realidade do ‘Eu’ que observa. Aliando uma
função informativa a uma função estética, a narrativa de viagens abre os
horizontes ao multiculturalismo e ao diálogo entre identidades. Muitas vezes a
procura multicultural torna-se revelação de si-próprio, porque a integração, a
assimilação ou o esforço de compreensão do Outro, a partir dos padrões de
valores culturais daquele que viaja, permite-lhe construir um discurso marcado
pelo interculturalismo. Este interculturalismo surge muitas vezes fruto de trocas
ao nível do léxico e da significação das relações exóticas ou humanistas entre
protagonistas, como processo de interpretação do que é descoberto no Outro.
O viajante define as suas relações com o Outro a partir das suas próprias
referências culturais. O real descoberto age sobre ele e desencadeia as suas
120 Lola Geraldes Xavier

memórias e reminiscências, interpela os seus sentimentos e interroga os seus


conhecimentos. Isto traduz-se num discurso de analogias, comparações, controvér-
sias e polémicas, solicitando ao narrador diversos papéis, estatutos e situações.
Isso permite também vários tons e modos narrativos em que a memória tem papel
relevante.
Pela analogia e pela comparação faz-se apelo a diversas fontes e domínios
do conhecimento, em que os sujeitos literários expõem o seu multiculturalismo
por uma espécie de «mise en abyme» da cultura estrangeira na sua própria. É
por isso que as narrações de viagem são uma espécie de «melting pot», em que
a geografia comunga com a história, a moral, a política, a religião, as artes, etc.
As narrações de viagem são, assim, por excelência o espaço da descrição do
Outro, é o espaço em que as impressões e sensações de descoberta se dão a ler
e a ver. É o espaço da subjectividade de um «eu» que de som em som, de imagem
em imagem, de odor em odor, constrói a imagem do Outro. É a representação
textual do Outro, em que o problema de alteridade é uma questão de perspec-
tiva, logo de subjectividade.
Esta subjectividade acompanha o olhar das personagens sul-africanas da
novela Hinyambaan, que viajam de Joanesburgo até Inhambane, em Moçambi-
que. São personagens que, a partir do olhar do Sul, constroem o sentido topográ-
fico e cultural sobre outro sul que visitam, em parte tão diferente de si próprias.
Esta é uma novela de João Paulo Borges Coelho, autor que nasceu no Porto,
em 1955, mas adoptou a nacionalidade moçambicana. Professor de História na
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, em Maputo, estreou-se na escrita em 2003 com
o livro As Duas Sombras do Rio. Em 2004, recebeu o Prémio José Craveirinha,
com o livro As Visitas do Dr. Valdez. Desde então tem publicado em média um
livro por ano, na Editorial Caminho.
O tema da viagem está presente em várias obras de João Paulo Borges
Coelho. Em As Visitas do Dr. Valdez, está presente o tema da viagem ao passado
através da memória, como evasão do presente. É um passado que tenta justificar
um presente de apatia e sem esperança para as duas irmãs, Sá Amélia e Sá
Caetana, em que a única lufada de ar fresco nas suas vidas vem do criado,
Vicente. A viagem ao passado faz-se através de uma narrativa fragmentada em
que as analepses invadem a narração e dão vitalidade à estória. Esta viagem
mental constitui, assim, um refúgio imaginário de um quotidiano marcado pela
quase imobilidade física das personagens.
No romance de 2007, Campo de Trânsito, o topos da viagem apresenta-se
numa narrativa mais complexa, em que a indeterminação do espaço e do tempo
afastam a narrativa da referencialidade. A alegoria da condição humana entre a
injustiça e a falta de liberdade, dá corpo a uma narrativa que faz lembrar o mito
da caverna de Platão, no que de metafórico tem o romance. J. Mungau é o prota-
A viagem como criação de sentido: topografias do Sul 121

gonista, que preso sem saber o motivo, se vai conformando com a sua situação,
fazendo lembrar a atmosfera de alienação e de absurdo de L’Étranger, de Camus,
com as devidas diferenças: Mungau não parece pertencer a uma categoria de
assassino, ainda que o texto não esclareça devidamente esse aspecto. É, pois,
uma escrita que indaga a condição da natureza humana numa viagem ao encontro
do limbo em que se encontra o ser humano incapaz de agir, alienado e submisso.
A viagem, no sentido com que estamos mais familiarizados, encontramo-la
sobretudo no último livro deste autor, Hinyambaan, de 2008. Acompanhamos a
viagem de férias da família dos bóeres Odendaal, uma família branca da classe
média urbana (da África do Sul até Moçambique, mais precisamente de
Joanesburgo até Inhambane). O destaque recai sobretudo na viagem entre a
fronteira da África do Sul com Moçambique, em Komatiport, até Inhambane,
numa distância de aproximadamente 600 quilómetros percorridos em dois dias,
com uma paragem no Moçambique rural, onde fazem camping.
O destino, Inhambane, a que Hermann e Henrietta Odendaal teimam em
chamar de Hinyambaan, é bem definido desde o começo. O título dá-nos ab initio
o objectivo da viagem empreendida e remete para a dinâmica de criação termi-
nológica, resultante do contacto com novas realidades, na tentativa de apropria-
ção dessas realidades derivadas do contacto com o Estrangeiro, com o Outro, no
caso com outra língua. É um contacto inicial difícil na apropriação dos nomes,
não só de locais, como Inhambane e Maputo («Mapiutou», p. 22), como da
pronúncia de nomes próprios como o de Djika-Djika.
No entanto, a língua não se torna um verdadeiro obstáculo entre aqueles
que viajam e os que são visitados. Para isso, muito contribuem as traduções do
jovem Djika-Djika, o moçambicano a que a família branca dá boleia a partir de
uma parte do percurso e que se torna numa espécie de guia pelo interior do país,
que de outra forma estaria vedado à família sul-africana. Este moçambicano não
é apenas o tradutor linguístico, mas é também o tradutor entre duas realidades,
a «ponte entre os dois mundos» (p. 75). A proximidade desta personagem com a
família sul-africana é facilitada, porque já não representa somente a ruralidade
moçambicana, pois já se urbanizou.
No entanto, as traduções do jovem são muitas vezes invenções, como se
percebe pelos contextos descritos e nos comentários do narrador: «São assim as
traduções: corajosamente, atravessam caminhos pejados de armadilhas para
conseguir unir muito mais do que o mero sentido das palavras» (p. 85). A con-
fluência de línguas é facilitada pelo ambiente festivo do jantar proporcionado
pela numerosa família do jovem moçambicano: «Alegres e gordurosas palavras
ditas em mais do que uma língua, angulosas e bruscas as dos estrangeiros, enrola-
das e ariscas as dos locais» (p. 66). Daqui se constata que o que é estrangeiro é
áspero e incompreensível, porque desconhecido, e se depreende a importância
122 Lola Geraldes Xavier

da refeição para quebrar o gelo entre estranhos e abrir as portas ao convívio


cultural, atenuando as diferenças.
É a jovem personagem que permite também o contacto com a ruralidade,
pois, na verdade, a família Odendaal não está apenas a viajar por um território
mais pobre e com menos recursos do que estão habituados, mas também enfrenta
o contraste entre a urbanidade, de onde provêm, e a ruralidade em que são
mergulhados na primeira noite que passam em Moçambique, graças a Djika-Djika.
No final, o objectivo da viagem é atingido − chegam a Inhambane −, no
entanto é graças à boleia que dão a Djika-Djika que os objectivos secundários
são cumpridos: «ver culturas e paisagens, experimentar as novas sensações que
os contactos proporcionam» (p. 92). A viagem da família de bóeres permitirá,
então, o convívio com outra cultura, em que as autoridades, o comércio à beira
da estrada, a culinária e os odores têm as suas peculiaridades.
Como em todas as viagens a proximidade com o Outro causa estranheza e
faz aflorar os preconceitos e os estereótipos, através de comentários mordazes
sobre «uma cultura diferente da deles, que encontram eivada de limitações»
(p. 50). Acontece assim com a cidade de Maputo, que a família não visita, mas
continua a fomentar a ideia de uma «maldita cidade» (p. 25), pois «aquilo não é
propriamente uma cidade, é antes um amontoado de lixo, assaltantes e polícias
corruptos» (p. 22). A polícia é, de facto, vista como corrupta e os seus agentes
como analfabetos que «estão sempre a arranjar pretextos para (…) extorquir
dinheiro» (p. 38). Apesar de a família sul-africana não ter desembolsado dinheiro
com as autoridades, a verdade é que as experiências que teve com as patrulhas
policiais foram no mínimo descoordenadas e vão, em parte, ao encontro destes
estereótipos.
Esta novela apresenta os moçambicanos pelos olhos dos Odendaal, mino-
rizando-os através do léxico usado, pois são os «coitados» (p. 18, p. 41), os
«coitadinhos» (p. 26); os «analfabetos» (p. 12); é a «inexpressiva funcionária»
(p. 12); é o «preto» (p. 31). É destacado o papel da tradição e a importância dos
mais velhos, como a Vovó Thum; sobressai o respeito pela autoridade, a curiosi-
dade pelo que é estrangeiro. Para além da relação Eu−Outro, o fosso estabelece-
-se também entre ruralidade e urbanidade. É uma ruralidade que ora causa
surpresa e admiração, pela «facilidade com que [os habitantes] apreendem a
novidade» (p. 64) e se recupera a ordem («É este o milagre do mundo rural onde,
atrás de uma arrastada confusão, se esconde afinal a mais perfeita ordem»,
p. 64); e é uma ruralidade que ora causa estranhamento e afastamento, pois é
o «estranho mundo» (p. 56) onde há «esse irritante costume que os rurais têm
de acordar cedo e bem dispostos» (p. 89).
A nova cultura é apenas ignorada pela jovem Hannah, que com os seus
headphones postos se alheia da realidade por que passa. À medida que decorre
A viagem como criação de sentido: topografias do Sul 123

a viagem, a percepção da realidade torna-se mais positiva e a oposição «na minha


terra» (p. 39), «aqui» (p. 10) / «nesta terra» (p. 16) vai-se desvanecendo. Os pais
e o filho Odendaal vão estando atentos e interagem com os autóctones: compram
flores, cajus, máscaras e descem para apreciar os odores da fruta vendida à beira
da estrada, enquanto na paisagem sobressai o castanho do mato e do capim. A via-
gem vai-se tornando propícia ao despertar dos vários sentidos (audição/olfacto/
visão/paladar).
Assim, para Hermann o caju que compra na beira da estrada é «produto de
primeira qualidade» (p. 32). Por outro lado, a comparação com a realidade da
África do Sul põe a nu as fragilidades que essa sociedade também tem, em que
a violência e o crime são uma realidade (cf. p. 34)1. Analogias feitas, em que a
certeza de que a sociedade de onde provêm também não é o melhor modelo, as
personagens vão adequando-se à realidade do Outro. Henrietta é a personagem
que maior esforço faz para compreender o país que atravessam, mostrando uma
atitude politicamente correcta e compassiva. No entanto, o contacto com a
família de Djika-Djika desorienta, no início, este casal de bóeres.
Hermann faz um esforço para se integrar. Esforço que culmina com a troca
de bebidas, a partilha da cerveja sul-africana pela bebida do caju moçambicano
e na consequente embriaguez do Odendaal. Também a comida moçambicana
oferecida pela família de Djika-Djika causa no início estranhamento e o piri-piri
torna-se uma barreira à integração da família estrangeira. É, no entanto, uma
barreira que rapidamente é ultrapassada e este episódio do jantar vem compro-
var que o convívio à mesa é uma óptima forma de quebrar barreiras e aproximar
culturas, desde que o Estrangeiro esteja disposto a experimentar outros sabores
e odores.
O narrador omnisciente apresenta, no entanto, também a visão do Outro
sobre o estrangeiro, ainda que de forma mais reduzida. É com estranhamento
que a família de Djika-Djika observa a forma de comer dos estrangeiros (p. 67).
É igualmente com estranheza que constata a diferença do estatuto da mulher
nas duas culturas: as mulheres estrangeiras falam «muito alto para os homens,
como se fossem todos a mesma coisa» (p. 88).
Não podemos terminar sem interrogar a pertinência da designação geno-
lógica inscrita na capa do livro, que o caracteriza como «novela burlesca». Se não

1 O filme Tsotsi (que recebeu em 2006 o Óscar para o melhor filme estrangeiro) retrata a miséria
física e moral que grassa nessas aglomerações de gente sem emprego nem futuro que crescem
nas periferias das grandes cidades desde o fim do apartheid, devido ao êxodo rural e o fluxo
de imigrantes vindos sobretudo dos países vizinhos (Moçambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe). Os imi-
grantes têm vindo a substituir a minoria branca no papel de «inimigo principal». Cf. África
21, nº 18, Junho 2008, pp. 44-46.
124 Lola Geraldes Xavier

há dúvidas que seja uma novela, o adjectivo ‘burlesco’ causa algum estranha-
mento. Não vemos aqui a aplicação da terminologia clássica, no sentido de
‘paródia de textos clássicos de assunto sério’. A visão que nos é dada da socie-
dade na novela também não ridiculariza as personagens, costumes, valores, etc.
A perspectiva da realidade social é crítica, como não poderia deixar de ser numa
narrativa em que o fio condutor é o da viagem, no entanto, verifica-se alguma
condescendência quer pelas personagens no contacto com o ‘diferente’, quer
pelo narrador na descrição das situações, fruto da subjectividade daqueles que
olham, maioritariamente a família branca. É sobretudo a ironia que está presente
e que culmina no final quando os Odendaal deixam Djika-Djika junto do seu
«patrão», o dono da roda do atrelado que o jovem carregara desde que lhe deram
boleia. Se desde o início da narrativa Hermann Odendaal recorria à memória
através das opiniões do amigo Joss du Plessis para interpretar a realidade que o
circundava com base na subjectividade do amigo sem deixar interferir a sua pró-
pria avaliação dos acontecimentos, com repetidas frases como «O Joss du Plessis
diz que..» (p. 19); «O Joss du Plessis disse-me que…» (p. 22); «Como diz o du
Plessis…» (p. 31); percebe agora que a análise da mulher em relação ao amigo
estava correcta (p. 87). O casal amigo tinha progredido social e economicamente
em relação aos Odendaal e desculpam-se, inventando que partiriam mais tarde
para não fazerem em conjunto as habituais férias. A novela começa com a
referência à amizade das duas famílias e termina com o episódio do encontro
entre elas, desmascarando a mentira dos du Plessis, logo augurando o rompi-
mento dessa amizade.
Os momentos em que Djika-Djika intervém são imbuídos de algum burlesco,
é certo. É o caso do encontro no posto de polícia com os Odendaal, em que
devido ao seu depoimento irrealista a família pôde seguir viagem (p. 46); é o
caso da forma como consegue «manipular», aparentemente de forma ingénua,
esta família e levá-la a realizar os seus objectivos: consegue boleia para si e para
a roda de atrelado; consegue que os Odendaal se metam num caminho sinuoso
de terra batida para o levarem a casa e finalmente consegue a boleia final até
Inhambane. Esta manipulação é facilitada também pela cultura urbana de Djika-
Djika, que o torna expedito na forma como se apresenta e age e que, em parte,
se afasta da sua família rural para se aproximar da família sul-africana. O
episódio em que Djika-Djika traduz para os seus familiares, que se acotovelam à
porta da tenda dos Odendaal, antes de dormir, o que se diz dentro da tenda,
pela forma como inventa é um outro exemplo (p. 88). Deixa os familiares com
boa impressão dos estrangeiros, mas simultaneamente incrédulos por «os estran-
geiros usarem palavras tão ríspidas» para descrever as sensações de agradabili-
dade e beleza traduzidas por Djika-Djika (p. 88).
A viagem como criação de sentido: topografias do Sul 125

Perguntamos, então: que diferença há entre este olhar sul-africano da


cultura moçambicana e o olhar de um ocidental? Se tivermos em consideração a
dependência económica que ainda existe dos países do sul de África em relação
126 Lola Geraldes Xavier

à África do Sul, os olhares dos brancos sul-africanos sobre a realidade moçam-


bicana não parecem assim tão distantes dos olhares que o Norte lança sobre o
Sul. Daqui não poderemos concluir que o olhar cultural é determinado pelo olhar
económico e não a partir do lugar (de enunciação) de onde observamos o Outro?
Claro que o narrador desta novela é criação de um autor moçambicano —
até que ponto João Paulo Borges Coelho conseguirá o distanciamento que um
autor realmente sul-africano teria em relação à realidade de Moçambique?
Até que ponto este autor consegue perspectivar o olhar de um sul-africano sobre
um moçambicano?

Bibliografia
COELHO, João Paulo Borges, Hinyambaan. Lisboa: Caminho, 2008.
———, «É através de Moçambique que eu vejo o mundo», Expresso África, 13/04/2006,
http://macua.blogs.com/moambique_para_todos/2006/08/joo_paulo_borge.html
(1/9/2009).
———, «A actividade científica é apenas uma das maneiras de dar conta da realidade»,
Público, 9/10/2004.
SEIXO, Maria Alzira et al. (ed.), The Paths os Multiculturalism. Travel writings and
postcolonialism. Lisboa: Edições Cosmos/International Comparative Literature
Association, 2000.
O mundo e o cais. “Cosmopolitismo periférico”
na literatura caboverdiana

ROBERTO FRANCAVILLA
Universidade de Siena

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


(na lembrança de Luciana Stegagno Picchio)

“O homem do mar, habituado aos horizontes largos, tem a alma grande;


os olhos afeitos à vastidão dos elementos, e na sua alma reflete o mes-
mo sentir da grandiosidade, a mesma dolência, e o igual ritmo quebrado
das ondas”.

Começo com estas palavras de Artur Augusto1, citação que contém alguns
elementos paradigmáticos (inclusive do ponto de vista retórico) para o assunto
que eu queria tratar: o elemento humano que é “homem do mar” e que corres-
ponde ao eu poético de muita literatura caboverdiana, põe-se em relacionamento
dialéctico com o elemento natural, que é o mar. Existe uma correspondência
empática (alma grande / vastidão dos elementos; dolência da alma / ritmo das
ondas) cuja sublimação desencadeia o acto da criação literária.

O objectivo deste meu contributo é o de debater algumas questões relacio-


nadas com a história da cultura caboverdiana a fim de estabelecer, dentro dos
parâmetros de uma epistemologia pós-colonial e no âmbito dos estudos literários,
a incidência da insularidade (e as suas consequências: isolamento, mobilidade
demográfica, emigração, viagem, partida e regresso, diáspora) não apenas como
tema, mito ou símbolo, mas sim como verdadeiro paradigma de um possivel
“cosmopolitismo periférico” em que uma certa “ambiguidade ontológica” sirva
para a construçao dum espaço de negociação, segundo o entendido de Homi
Bhabha e do seu chamado third space.
A literatura, neste sentido, veicula a construção e a procura duma forma
nacional plasmada em volta do relacionamento com a dimensão marítima, com
a viagem entendida na dialéctica secular entre o “querer ficar e ter que sair” do
emigrante e o seu avesso como postura intelectualizada: o arquipélago, mesmo
na persistência duma imagologie exotista fixada no campo semântico do isola-
mento e do abandono, tem-se revelado como dinâmico cruzamento de ideias e

1 “Claridade” n. 3, Mindelo, março de 1937, p. 4.


130 Roberto Francavilla

pensamentos especialmente entre os anos ’30 e ’40: como veremos, o Modernis-


mo português, a reflexão sócio-antropológica e o romance regionalista brasileiro,
e até (de maneira algo excéntrica) o romance neorealista italiano (além do
romance russo), entrecruzaram-se no ambiente intelectual do arquipélago dando
vida a um interessante movimento cultural, por alguns aspectos em nítida
antecipação no que diz respeito a outros contextos bem menos “periféricos”.
Ao mesmo tempo, sempre através do relacionamento com o universo
geográfico, o nacionalismo das “narrativas heróicas”, por citar Edward Said, de
herança romântica, formula a própria representação a partir do léxico e do imagi-
nário oceânico (a contemplação da terralonge, o epos dos marinheiros cabover-
dianos, a resistência contra o desafio da natureza) mas em nítida oposição às
formas do nacionalismo mítico da linha que em Portugal entrelaça um certo
Saudosismo ao fascismo e ao colonialismo de Salazar. A insularidade fixa-se como
elemento de base no projecto dum nacionalismo cultural crioulo (naquela altura
por razões, digamos, de terminologia colonial, era preferível chamá-lo regiona-
lismo) ao qual mais tarde, inevitavelmente, fatalmente, teria-se sobreposto o
projecto dum nacionalismo politico. Cosmopolitismo periférico: até poderia
parecer um oxímoro.
Pelo que diz respeito ao título desta comunicação sou devedor dum ensaio
de Katie Trumpener Cosmopolitismo periferico: la Scozia, l’Irlanda e il romanzo
‘inglese’ 2 que se abre com estas palavras (a citação original seria em italiano e
a tradução é minha): “Em 1773, enquanto se encontravam nas Highlands esco-
cesas, Samuel Johnson e James Boswell ficaram admirados por encontrar obras
da literatura na aldeia remota de Anoch. ‘Havia alguns livros: um tratado contra
o alcolismo traduzido do francês, um volume do «Spectator», um volume da
Connexion do Prideaux, e os Cyrus’s Travels. Macqueen disse que possuia outros
e o nosso espanto pelo facto que ele tivesse livros pareceu ferí-lo no orgulho”.
Un viajante que tivesse chegado nas ilhas de Cabo Verde entre os anos ’30
e ’40 teria muito provavelmente sentido a mesma admiração. O arquipélago teria
podido perfeitamente descrever a ideia de contexto periférico: isolamento
geográfico, condição de subalternidade decretada pelo status de colônia (ainda
por cima colônia de um regime totalitário em ascensão), país africano e portanto
incluido no corpus do chamado “terceiro mundo”. Mesmo assim, algo animava-
se e dava vida a uma decidida viragem cultural cujo manifesto era a revista
“Claridade”. O primeiro número de “Claridade” foi publicado no Mindelo, na ilha
de S. Vicente, em março de 1936.

2 AA.VV, Il Romanzo, Vol. III, Torino, 2002, pp. 205-228


O mundo e o cais. “Cosmopolitismo periférico” na literatura caboverdiana 131

Quando Gilberto Freyre desembarcou no porto do Mindelo, estamos em


meados dos anos ‘40, teve provavelmente o mesmo tipo de admiração dos nossos
escritores ingleses nas Highlands. Mesmo assim, preferiu limitar-se a uma leitura
bastante superficial do arquipélago, provocando, aliás, um vivo desapontamento
entre aqueles jovens inelectuais que se inspiravam nas suas teorias julgadas —
naquela alura — revolucionárias, e que o esperavam como um Messias. Existem
depoimentos interessantes sobre aquela disilusão e sobre a polémica que causou.
Se tivesse insistido duma forma mais atenta sobre o que em Cabo Verde se
estava a produzir, Freyre teria encontrado um brilhante paradigma para as suas
teorias luso-tropicalistas. As suas intuições já estavam a seguir uma linha pouco
propensa à verificação e ao dado histórico e antropológico e construídas mais à
volta dum texto de matriz paternalista (uma das grandes objecções feitas a
Freyre pela comunidade cientifica brasileira) e politicamente impraticável se
não como bandeira ideológica útil dum lado à pretensa instituição da famosa
“democracia racial” de Getúlio Vargas e doutro lado ao regime de Salazar para
disfarçar até o ultimo, frente à comunidade internacional, as reais ambições do
projecto colonial português em África. Mesmo assim, se o considerarmos mais
num plano rigorosamente cultural, a junção freyriana entre o arquipélago de
Cabo Verde e o paradigma luso-tropicalista propõe algumas sujestões interes-
santes mesmo à luz duma nova reflexão sobre os relacionamentos entre centro
e periferia e sobre as influências da matriz cultural (também mitográfica) “lusa”.
E aqui reside o perigo duma instrumentalização por parte da metrópole: a
ideia de nacionalidade baseada na integração humana podia levar em direcção
da auto afirmação política, mas podia também ser usada para propagandar o
"successo" da política ultramarina portuguesa. Um bom exemplo desta segunda
vertente é Pedro de Sousa Lobo que escreve no último número de "Claridade":
“Admirável simbiose que é a criação, em pleno trópico, de mais uma autêntica
província de Portugal”3.
Sempre entendemos, erroneamente, a dialéctica entre centro e periferia
como um dos eixos de base na nossa maneira de compreender o mundo e as suas
culturas, inclusive a suas representações (e portanto a literatura) dentro do siste-
ma binário em que se desenvolvem os paradigmas do pensamento. O pós-estrutu-
ralismo, os estudos culturais e nomeadamente a maioria das teorias pós-coloniais
têm retomado o que já os filosofos da antiguidade tinham comprendido e defi-
nido: se na dicotomia centro / periferia está implicado um sistema de poder, um
relacionamento entre uma subjectividade dominadora e uma dominada, a própria

3 Pedro de Sousa Lobo, "Claridade", 9, Mindelo (Cabo Verde), dezembro de 1966, p. 64


132 Roberto Francavilla

estrutura que fica na base desta dicotomia é passível de uma continua elaboração
de experiências como negociação, imitação, parodia e, obviamente subversão e
até revolução. Em termos bachtinianos (e considerando que esta minha
contribuição refere-se ao campo literário) poderiamos falar então de formas de
dialogismo.

Cabo Verde como modelo do que quis chamar “cosmopolitismo periférico”


antecipou (e muito) aquele tipo de comunidade formada por indivíduos nascidos,
como lembra Appadurai “dum duplo movimento: o da disjunção, por vezes
forçada, por vezes conseguida através da pertença a um espaço ao mesmo tempo
universal e homogéneo, e o da diferença como ontologia, come violência episté-
mica inapagável, como fronteira entre maiorias e minorias”4. Cabo Verde, pois,
sinónimo de desterritorialização, de translocalismo polimorfo, segmentado nas
rotas duma diáspora quase infinita.
Na crioulização e no hibridismo do local participa a discussão dos modelos:
a língua, o canon literário. Isto não significa nem justifica algum tipo de processo
distrutivo, como ao contrário acontece, por exemplo, no que diz respeito à
arquitectura colonial — monumental ou menos — no momento da violência. Mas
obviamente é mais fácil praticar a destruição agindo fisicamente sobre tijolos
do que sobre a sintaxe ou sobre a tradição poética.
Cabo Verde corresponde, também graças ao seu hibridismo “ontológico” à
possibilidade de fuga da visão dum colonialismo totémico, lido como categoria
totalizante a priori e a posteriori “aplicado” a cada caso de estudo. A ambigui-
dade que diferenciou Cabo Verde na formação antropológica da sua sociedade
nos seus relacionamentos com o Brasil, com a África, até com a Guiné-Bissau, se
pensarmos no peculiar percurso partidário de libertação, constitui um exempio
válido — além do que útil — daquela complexidade que fica na base da ideologia
colonial e influência qualquer mecanismo de crítica e deconstrução.
Em 1967, Manuel Ferreira escreve A aventura crioula, análise sócio-antro-
pológica da cultura caboverdiana, onde desenvolve algumas teses que ajudem a
entender os principais mecanismos da sua formação. A principal destas teses, a
da originalidade do caboverdiano, em aparente contradição com quanto dissemos
até agora, insiste na unidade étnica do crioulo, na sua alta homogeneidade
cultural. Afirma Manuel Fereira: “O homem caboverdiano é uma simbiose de duas
culturas em trânsito para uma perfeita harmonia, para um equilíbrio cultural
obtido primeiro pelo choque e depois pelo encontro das culturas em contacto:

4 Cfr. Appadurai, A., Modernity at large. Cultural dimension of globalization, Minneapolis,


London, Minnesota University Press, 1996
O mundo e o cais. “Cosmopolitismo periférico” na literatura caboverdiana 133

africana e europeia. Hoje Cabo Verde é um país independente, liberto do colonia-


lismo, e cujo projecto na sua qualidade de nacção se traça no contexto africano
antes de inscrever-se no contexto universal. Mas, diremos, ainda,quer num caso
quer no outro, ele esta situado como uma personalidade socio-cultural autónoma,
definida, singular”5.
O sincretismo cultural caboverdiano, vivido amiúde como um compromisso,
sobre tudo nos anos da renascença cultural (anos '30 e '40), gerou uma tensão
entre duas opostas tendências (predominância da África vs predominância de
Portugal) dentro da nova simbiose crioula. Intelectuais como Gabriel Mariano
deram mais importância à presença histórica do elemento africano, ao contrário
dos escritores da "Claridade" (pelo menos na primeira fase). Afirma Mário de
Andrade: “Ao examinarem o "processus" de aculturação em Cabo Verde, os
animadores de "Claridade" e outros autores afirmaram que as contribuicões da
cultura africana tendiam a reduzir-se a nível de sobrevivências ou a diluir-se em
função do grau de instrução e de urbanização do meio, enquanto os valores
europeus, possuidores de uma maior capacidade de resistência, se empunham e
se generalizavam”6.

Como já disse o campo da minha análise é a literatura e mais em geral os


estudos culturais. Interessa-me tentar uma reconstrução de alguns momentos
culturais em que não apenas a ambiguidade de que se falou há pouco torna-se
evidente, mas também os relacionamentos que regulam a suposta dicotomia
“centro / periferia” anulam-se ou encravam-se mesmo por causa de falsas ou
até inexistentes correspondências entre termos de um paradigma ideológico pre-
definido. O cais representa o lugar simbólico onde se concentra a investigação
mítica, literária, epistemológica sobre o arquipélago dum lado e sobre Portugal
matriz colonial do outro lado (sem esquecer que dum cais ideal, para retomar a
Ode Maritima de Pessoa, de uma essência de cais africano, sarparam os navios
negreiros que, nas rotas do tráfico, levaram para as ilhas uma parte conspícua
da sua população).
A partir do discurso psicanalítico, Homi Bhabha elabora uma sorta de
protocolo da ambiguidade em que a participação da fantasia e do desejo (mais
uma vez dados essenciais do percurso elaborado por Fanon e depois por Said)
desenham as coordenadas para uma lenta embora inesorável corrosão das regras
do domínio e para a transformação do hibridismo num terceiro espaço conotado
por uma forte tensão política.

5 Ferreira, M., A aventura crioula, Lisboa, Platano, 1985, p.111


6 Mario de Andrade, Antologia tematica da poesia africana, Lisboa, Sà da Costa, 1977, p. 5.
134 Roberto Francavilla

É fácil intuir a realização deste projecto nas páginas das revistas cabo-
verdianas dos anos ’30 e ’40. A utilização do texto como sistema de controle:
combater o inimigo com as suas mesmas armas. Parece clara a posição de
“Claridade”, mais uma vez não apenas na sua vertente mais literária (poesia e
narrativa, com a proposta dos primeiros capítulos de Chiquinho de Baltazar
Lopes, que será publicado só dez anos mais tarde) mas sim na vertente da
pesquisa antropológica que, graças a um olhar “do interior”, ou seja do sujeito
sobre si mesmo, apropria-se dum dos instrumentos mais utilizados pela cultura
colonial: a reportagem sobre o folklore, o ensaio pseudo científico de inspiração
naturalista o geográfica; a recolha de mitos e lendas. Com os estudos sobre a
tabanca publicados por Felix Monteiro a partir do numero 6 de “Claridade”, em
1948, a etnografia crioula põe em acto uma nítida diferenciação no que diz
respeito aos modelos, provocando um processo consciente de resistência (lembro
também o artigo de Teixeira de Sousa “A estrutura social da ilha do Fogo em
1940”, no quinto numero, e mais, no ambito da linguística “Notas para o estudo
da linguagem das ilhas” de Baltasar Lopes, no numero 2).
“Claridade” corresponde na realidade a um processo de auto-mitificação do
caboverdiano, uma vez saldada definitivamente a dívida com a matéria que tinha
animado a geração anterior, a do Caboverdianismo. As fontes eruditas — e excên-
tricas! — dos poetas das ilhas no final do seculo XIX remontavam para a teogonia
esiodeia e para o ciclo de Éracles para construir uma mitologia das origens: ilhas
de Atlándida onde vivem as ninfas do pôr-do-sol, filhas da noite, as Hespérides
guardiãs do jardim onde crescem maçãs douradas. Segundo a concepção antro-
pológica do mito (penso em Malinowski) poderiamos afirmar que o mito funciona
como acto institutivo da ordem social e proporciona um modelo retrospectivo
para a individuação de valores morais, para a ordem sociológica (além das
crenças mágicas), com o objectivo de consolidar a tradição e de lhe conferir
prestígio através da importância dos eventos inciais.
O evento inicial, o “descobrimento” na poesia de Jorge Barbosa “Preludio”,
em que é evidente o intertexto brasileiro da Carta de Pero Vaz de Caminha,
representa um início da disseminação, mesmo convergindo no eixo telúrico da
creoulidade como resposta ao domínio lusitano. A escolha de abrir o primeiro
numero de “Claridade”, em 1936, com “Lantunas e dois motivos de finaçom”
(ou seja o batuque) alimenta esta nítida tomada de posição, na consciência da
própria condição de subalternidade.

Em “Preludio” há uma presença por subtracção no que diz respeito ao mito


do descobrimento (Pedro Alvares Cabral como símbolo da epopéia dos Des-
cobrimentos): nas ilhas não havia ninguém. Apenas a terra vinculada ao mar,
à espera.
O mundo e o cais. “Cosmopolitismo periférico” na literatura caboverdiana 135

A quem se dirige o poema de Jorge Barbosa? Para quem cria a origem, o pró-
prio povo, o específico Volkgeist e no fundo, ainda “in nuce” o ideal de nação?
Para que um texto exista num nível colectivo é necessário que a matéria utilizada
tenha pontos de referência. O leitor reconhece a comunidade (como por exem-
plo no caso do romance burguês) e cresce o seu sentido de pertença. A contru-
ção duma literatura nacional é a elaboração desta rede de segmentos reconhe-
cíveis. Temas, sintaxe, mitos, representações, símbolos, léxico: tudo conflui
nesta completa e polimorfa matéria da qual, em vários planos, alimenta-se o
texto.
A areia das ilhas trasforma-se numa esponja que absorve tudo. Até um tema
tão endógeno como a seca, duma forma é importado do Brasil. Os poetas e os
narradores de “Claridade” acolhem o Brasil de Manuel Bandeira, Jorge Amado
de Jubiabá e Mar Morto, José Lins do Rego de O menino do engenho e di Bangue,
Graciliano Ramos de Vidas Secas e moldam-no segundo uma estética e uma
adesão quase empática ao telúrico ilheu (enquanto a geração anterior, a do cabo-
verdianismo, inspirava-se mais nos parnassianos, em Olavo Bilac, nos románticos
como Gonçalves Dias o Castro Alves). O mesmo acontece com o Modernismo por-
tuguês antes e com o Neo realismo depois. Até a leitura (de certeza esporádica,
talvez casual, mas pregnante) do Elio Vittorini torna-se fundamental para a
elaboração dum canon em que se inspirar: o do intelectual engagée e cosmopo-
lita como por exemplo o português Augusto Casimiro (já do grupo da “Renascença
portuguesa” com Raoul Proença e depois director de “Seara Nova”, desterrado
para Cabo Verde), que escreve Portugal crioulo em 1940.
No relacionamento entre “cais” e “mundo”, da simples contemplação — que
poderia bem alimentar uma poiesis de signo simbolista e mesmo decadentista —
toma forma ao contrário um discurso imaginoso baseado na construção da
viagem, na ideia de desafio também físico e geográfico (pensemos por exemplo
no epos dos navios baleeiros do New England e dos valiosos marinheiros crioulos).
Se è verdade que muita da poesia caboverdiana — mas especialmente a
ligada à primeira fase de “Claridade” e a “Certeza”, adia-se voluptuosamente
no ritual do adeus, é verdade também que o dado poético realiza-se no momento
seguinte, nuna dimensão de luta (pela elevação social no plano material, pela
liberdade no plano político, pela construção do retorno para a Heimat no plano
íntimo, sentimental), numa dimensão “futura” e “realizada” embora, obviamen-
te, cheia do outrotanto endógeno aparato nostálgico.

Na realidade o cosmopolitismo representa a condição de quem se coloca


além de qualquer forma de nacionalismo. Em aparência, portanto, há aqui um
paradoxo, porém a categoria da ambiguidade a qual se referia Homi Bhabha
permite-nos de deslindar este equivoco aparente.
136 Roberto Francavilla

Num ensaio recente com título Cosmopolitism, Ethics in a world of strangers7,


o intelectual de origem ghanesa Kwame Anthony Appiah introduz as suas consi-
derações eligindo como exemplo de cosmopolitismo Sir Richard Francis Burton,
explorador e linguista inglês, poliglota. Burton traduziu o Kamasutra do sanscrito,
As mil e uma noite do árabe (em 16 volumes, com um ensaio final que era uma
pesquisa transcultural sobre a homossexualidade ainda hoje actual!) e os Lusíadas
do português. Burton é um óptimo exemplo mas a sua dinamicidade e a sua
abertura cultural são sujeitas a uma condição de que pode sempre desfrutar,
uma espécie de ontologia: a mobilidade geográfica.
A imobilidade caboverdiana, ao contrário, constrói o seu cosmopolitismo
como reacção, como maneira de ultrapassar as suas boundaries, ou seja o limite
geográfico, em direcção dum universalismo transnacional que nos lembra a figura
do estrangeirado, tipologia da cultura portuguesa, e na esteira da tradição do
cosmopolitismo pós-iluminista (sem esquecer os precursores do Humanismo como
Damião de Góis): há aqui o desenvolvimento duma progressiva receptividade,
hospitalidade para com a arte, as literaturas e em geral os costumes de outras
culturas. A ideologização desta atitude, como óbvio, insinua o risco de praticas
exotistas e paternalistas.
É no híbrido, portanto, e na absorção, que a literatura caboverdiana constrói
a própria imagem. É interessante reparar, na linha de Fanon, que não só o universo
colonial é o produto duma estratégia e o resultato duma complexa elaboração
cultural correspondente a uma ideologia, mas também muitas das categorias
do “aqui”, do ocidente entendido como subjectividade dominadora, enquanto
produzidas com o objectivo de representar modelos, acabaram por se enraizarem
por sua vez dentro das próprias matrizes culturais graças ao reflexo no espelho
da colônia. O resultado desta espécie de inopinado “feedback” é que a identida-
de européia foi produzida pelos paises colonizados, acabando por ser considerada
uma invenção do chamado “terceiro mundo”.

7 W.W. Norton & Company, New York — London, 2006


Moçambique Mon Amour*: O Mito do Eterno Retorno

SHEILA KHAN**

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


* Título retirado de empréstimo de uma reflexão apresentada pelo escritor e crítico Eugénio
Lisboa. Veja-se Lisboa, Eugenio. “Carta de Moçambique, Eugenio Lisboa, Londres: Moçambique
mon amour…”. Colóquio — Letras, n.110/11, Julho-Outubro, 1989:13-18.
** Pós-Doutoranda no Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Manchester e
Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra. Investigadora Associada do Centro de
Investigação em Ciências Sociais, Universidade do Minho e, à data do congresso internacional,
investigadora convidada no Department of Social Anthropology, University of Trondheim.
1. Enquadramento Teórico: A Condição Pós-Colonial de Portugal

Se aos filhos não pudermos falar da vida e da nossa terra,


que coisas iremos nós ensinar aos filhos da Europa,
que não seja uma qualquer teoria,
ou a arte e a manha,
a artimanha de todos nos considerarmos fingidamente europeus?
João de Melo, O Homem Suspenso

No seu artigo “Uma História de Regressos: Império, Guerra Colonial e Pós-


-Colonialismo” (2003), Margarida Calafate Ribeiro, propõe a ideia de que o
colonialismo português só pode ser entendido como sustendo-se à luz de um
“império como imaginação do centro” (Calafate 3). Esta assunção baptizou-a a
autora, partindo da proposta teórica de Boaventura Sousa Santos (1994), ao
referir que Portugal sempre habitou numa localização semi-periférica face a uma
Europa que olhava para este pedaço à beira-mar plantado como periferia, e só
perante o império africano, o território nacional se imaginava como centro. De
facto, nas palavras do sociólogo encontramos esta definição, ao salientar a
natureza semiperiférica portuguesa do seguinte modo: “enquanto identidade
nacional, Portugal nem foi nunca semelhante às identificações culturais positivas
que eram as culturas europeias, nem foi nunca suficientemente diferente das
identificações negativas que eram, desde o século XV, os outros, os não europeus”
(Santos 133). Desse modo, observa Boaventura Sousa Santos, “a manifestação
paradigmática desta matriz intermédia, semiperiférica, da cultura portuguesa
está no facto de os Portugueses terem sido, a partir do século XVII, o único povo
europeu que, ao mesmo tempo que observava e considerava os povos das suas
colónias como primitivos ou selvagens, era, ele próprio, observado e conside-
rado, por viajantes e estudiosos dos países centrais da Europa do Norte, como
primitivo e selvagem” (133). No fundo, o pensamento do sociólogo pretende
discutir o colonialismo de expressão portuguesa, como um rosto bifurcado,
possuidor de uma dupla personalidade: por um lado, a de um Próspero pelo facto
de arrogar-se centro, através das suas colónias africanas e de, por outro lado,
140 Sheila Khan

suportar a imagem de Caliban, pela representação de um colonizador menor,


que outras potências europeias tinham dele. Desta dualidade, resultou esta
obsessiva necessidade de Portugal se ancorar, como bem observa Margarida
Calafate Ribeiro, à crença de “um império como imaginação do centro” (Calafate
3). No entanto, esta orientação teórica que proponho para, solidamente, pensar
a presente proposta de trabalho, requer o apoio de um conceito, peculiarmente,
valioso para a análise do que foi o colonialismo, e do que é o pós-colonialismo
de expressão portuguesa. Refiro-me ao conceito de exílio.
Segundo Edward Said (2003), o exílio é a perda da solidez da terra, dos laços
comunitários e territoriais, um abandono em que o retornar atrás pode significar
perigo, ameaça, e insegurança. Nas palavras de Said, “o pathos do exílio está na
perda de contacto com a solidez e a satisfação da terra: voltar para o lar está
fora de questão” (Said 52). Esta definição oferecida por Said, permite-nos pensar,
metaforicamente, a trajectória que o Portugal colonial ‘como imaginação do
centro’ teve de percorrer para se imaginar como tal. Relembremos as constantes
desterritorializações do império para o Brasil, posteriormente para África, que
produziram, como bem salienta Calafate Ribeiro, esse movimento de um
translatio imperii1, dito de um outro modo, “a ideia de que o centro do império,
enquando sinónimo de espaço de irradiação de poder e cultura, se vai trans-
ferindo, ou “transladando”, de um lugar para o outro” (Ribeiro 3). O que este
descentramento nos recorda, ou nos indica, é, no fundo, um processo de exílio,
ou reflexo constante da necessidade premente de sobrevivência de uma pátria e
da sua identidade nacional2. Esta busca sintomática, ou este exilar-se territorial
sinaliza, a meu ver, aquilo a que Said se reporta quando nos fala de exílio, ou da
característica de um exilado, ao dar ênfase à assunção de que: “os exilados
sentem uma necessidade urgente de reconstituir suas vidas rompidas e preferem

1 Sobre este conceito ver Curtius (1979); Garin (1989); Green (1969); e Abellan (1979-1984).
2 No brilhante romance de João de Melo, O Homem Suspenso (1996), encontramos a narrativa
do exílio da nação, da pátria portuguesa que se enuncia mediante o solilóquio da personagem
principal, mediante o qual se transfere para a superfície da diegese registos bem esculpidos,
por um lado, sobre a questão do exílio pátrio: “o pai perdeu o tempo, ainda que pense tê-lo
guardado como se guarda ou se esconde uma certeza no bolso. Perante ele, possuo apenas a
minha infância, nenhum outro conhecimento. De certa forma, vim ao encontro do meu pai,
do meu velho doente vencido e desmemoriado pai, porque só no bolso dele continuam guarda-
dos o tempo e o sentimento de um país anterior, de um país que ambos gostávamos de invocar
— e isso era ele voltar a ser o homem e eu voltar a ser o doce belo diligente menino dele”
(Melo 162). E, por outro lado, sobre o problema do exílio identitário na pós-colonialidade
portuguesa: “Perdi o mapa e o território daquilo em que aprendi a acreditar: o amor o casa-
mento o trabalho o meu país, o destino de um mundo a que bem se pode dar o nome de pátria,
digo, de exílio [sublinhado meu] no sentimento de família” (49).
Moçambique Mon Amour: O Mito do Eterno Retorno 141

ver a si mesmos como parte de uma ideologia triunfante ou de um povo restau-


rado” (Said, 2003: 50). Esta ‘ideologia triunfante’, assim como, este ‘povo
restaurado’ assemelham-se à vontade contundente de Portugal exultar-se como
‘império como imaginação do centro’, e que por isso, sujeitou-se ao itinerário
de auto-exilar-se, desterritorializar-se, para que pudesse realizar a sua viagem
imaginária, ‘triunfante’ ao centro. Penso que uma aproximação cuidada entre
as observações de Boaventura de Sousa Santos e Margarida Calafate Ribeiro, por
um lado, sobre a natureza semiperiférica de Portugal e, por outro lado, as refle-
xões de Said, no que diz respeito, à perda da solidez da terra, à urgência que o
exilado tem em compensar a sua perda, e a sua história comunitária e nacional,
apoia-me no argumento de que o colonialismo português era, segundo este eixo
teórico, um colonialismo com imaginação de centro, em constante exílio quer
territorial, quer identitário. Por outras palavras, Portugal só pôde ser centro,
porque quis escapar à sua condição de periferia, ao estigma negativo que outras
nações europeias alimentavam, mas para tal, teve de se assumir como perso-
nagem principal desta peça real que é a vivência e o rosto do exílio. Por conse-
guinte, foi preciso reconstruir-se, refazer-se, “romper barreiras de pensamento
e da experiência” (Said, 2003: 58), para outorgar-se o direito de se imaginar
como centro. Contudo, o exílio a que Portugal se dispôs trouxe com ele ambigui-
dades, dualidades, ambivalências, que fez deste um Próspero calibanizado
(Santos, 2001), um centro periférico, que colocou Portugal, em meu entender,
numa determinada trajectória de exílio identitário, pois, como bem observa
Boaventura de Sousa Santos: “em termos simbólicos, Portugal estava demasiado
próximo das suas colónias para ser plenamente europeu e, perante estas, estava
demasiado longe da Europa para poder ser um colonizador consequente” (Santos,
1994: 133). Desta pouca consistência colonizadora, desta postura de forte
presença imperial mas periférica, deste exilar constante, e do desconhecimento
total de si é o pós-colonialismo português herdeiro. No entanto, permanecem
por resgatar ao silêncio empoeirado das memórias, as visões e representações
de um património forjado por “cinco séculos de relações entre povos e culturas
diferentes” (Castelo, 1998: 191), e imbuídos ou alojados nas narrativas de vida
e, nomeadamente, de identidade daqueles que, por via de uma história de colo-
nizadores e colonizados, de pós-colonizadores e pós-colonizados são, também
hoje, narradores do colonialismo e do pós-colonialismo de expressão portuguesa,
e herdeiros, como poderemos ver mais adiante, de um exílio identitário, também
ele, de expressão portuguesa3.

3 Ainda que, por razões de economia de espaço, não seja possivel calcorrear as várias reflexões
teóricas e propostas de trabalho desenvolvidas sobre os conceitos de colonialidade do poder
142 Sheila Khan

2. ‘Casas’ Identitárias Itinerantes


Diz Gaston Bachelard no seu livro The Poetics of Space (1994) que a “casa é
um dos grandes poderes de integração dos pensamentos, memórias e sonhos da
humanidade. (…) Sem ela, o homem seria um ser disperso. (…) Ela é corpo e
espírito. É o primeiro mundo do ser humano” (6-7)4. Este espaco doméstico pode,
em contextos de desterritorialização territorial e cultural, tornar-se sujeito a
todo um processo de imaginação e reconstrução subjectiva, ainda que uma certa
visão fotográfica desse mesmo universo doméstico, permaneça presente na trajec-
tória quer individual, quer social no espaço e tempo das emigrações/imigrações
pos-coloniais. No entanto, a perversidade da colonialidade do ser e do saber não
terminou na cronologia que definiu a independência política das antigas colónias
africanas. Nesse sentido, remanescências dessa colonialidade do ser e do saber
(Maldonado-Torres 2007), encontram-se, ainda, imbuídas nas narrativas de vida
e de identidade daqueles que testemunharam e viveram a idiossincracia política,
cultural e social da presença portuguesa em África, neste caso específico, em
Moçambique. No âmbito desta mesma preocupação, Paulo de Medeiros, no seu
artigo ‘Memórias Pós-Coloniais’(2005), ainda que explanando a sua posição crítica
partindo da produção literária pós-colonial de expressão portuguesa, alerta para
situação real de que a aposta pós-colonial continua aquém das suas metas
previstas, ao rebuscar, copiosamente, a hermenêutica do passado colonial para

(Anibal Quijano 2007, 2000), colonialidade do ser e do saber (Nelson Maldonado-Torres 2004,
2007), de-colonial thinking e border-thinking (Walter Mignolo 2007; Mignolo e Tlostanova 2006;
Ramon Grosfoguel 2007); importa salientar, nomeadamente, a fecundidade dos conceitos de
colonialidade do poder (Quijano, 2000), por um lado, e por outro, o de colonialidade do saber
(Maldonado-Torres 2007), para um melhor entendimento da sobrevivência, até aos nossos dias,
do espectro do colonialismo e dos discursos modernistas (Dussel 2002) sobre a superioridade
da Europa face aos territórios conquistados pelo ímpeto imperialista e colonialista. Nesse
sentido, segundo Mignolo e Tlostanova (2006) “the logic of coloniality is one side (the hidden
and darker side) of imperial governance. Imperial governance was and continues to be
predicated on the rhetoric of modernity (reluctant imperialism, light imperialism, e.g.
justification for the invasion of Iraq). The rhetoric of modernity is a rhetoric of salvation
(conversion, civilization, development, market democracy) while the logic of coloniality is the
logic of land appropriation, exploitation of labour, control of gender and sexuality, of
knowledge and subjectivity” [sublinhado meu] (219). No epicentro teórico destas abordagens
conceptuais e metodológicas, torna-se claro que os estudos coloniais e pós-coloniais têm de
tomar em consideração que, quer a modernidade, quer o imperialismo/colonialismo das nações
europeias deixaram reminiscências bem presentes e vivas, pois, como asseveram Mignolo e
Tlostanova (2006) “today the shaping of subjectivity, the coloniality of being/knowledge is
often described within the so-called globalization of culture, a phrase, which in the rhetoric
of modernity reproduces the logic of coloniliaty of knowledge and of being” (208).
4 Bachelard, 1994: 6-7; tradução de Paulo de Medeiros, citado por Medeiros, 2003: 134.
Moçambique Mon Amour: O Mito do Eterno Retorno 143

melhor compreender e mesurar o presente5. Desse modo, observa Paulo de Medei-


ros: “longe de se constituir como uma revisão radical dos processos de opressão
cultural vigentes, tal como prometera, a teoria pós-colonial, em grande parte,
tem servido para reafirmar a dicotomia entre colonizador e colonizado (…).
No caso específico quer de Portugal, quer das literaturas africanas de expressão
portuguesa, essa situação é por demais evidente” (Medeiros 29-30).
Por conseguinte, imigrando as anteriores reflexões para o presente trabalho,
a ‘casa’ identitária, refúgio do imaginário do retorno, e do exílio pátrio e identi-
tário, torna-se numa linha de continuação, e constante revisão do passado, pois o
corte umbilical torna-se impossível na sua tessitura ontológica. Contudo, não dese-
jando contrariar as observações propostas pelos vários estudiosos da pós-
-colonialidade, já aqui analisados (e.g. Medeiros 2005), considero importante
prender a minha atenção à existência daqueles que habitam o quotidiano do
tempo e espaço da pós-colonialidade portuguesa. Sujeitos pós-coloniais dos
processos de imigração na Europa, importa, então, perceber os seus silêncios
humanos, as margens sociais e culturais que mesmos indivíduos representam. No
fundo, não desmerecendo todo o trabalho de análise literária, crítica, histórica
e antropológica realizada no âmbito dos estudos pós-coloniais em língua portu-
guesa, penso que será necessário quebrar barreiras, muros que tornam outras
realidades e vivências humanas invisíveis, inaudíveis (Mata 2006) e, erronea-
mente, entendidas como periferias ou ausências epistemologicamente criadas
pela racionalidade ocidental (Santos 2002, 2008)6. Perturbar a hegemonia dos

5 Madina Tlostanova no seu ensaio crítico sobre a premência metodológica de descolonizar os


estudos pós-coloniais, sublinha a incapacidade dos postcolonial studies, como tradição teórica
e epistémica, de realizarem um corte com uma certa visão imperial e colonial, actualmente,
resistente. Por conseguinte, observe a autora “the postcolonial studies remain blind to the
fundamental task that stands today before the humanities and social sciences. This task can
be defined in decolonial project’s terms, as the shift to geo- and body-politics of knowledge
and the decolonization based on arguing from a new perspective that comes from the very
phenomena we seek to define and is often in fact their product. The postcolonial studies
would not even formulate their task like this. Because they remain “studies”, i.e. confined
within the typical for modernity division into subject and object and taking scholarship
basically down to descriptivity. The postcolonial studies do not alter the inherent discourses
of progress and development fundamental for the myth of modernity as it is. http://www.
jhfc.duke.edu/globalstudies/Tlostanova_how%20can%20the%20decolonial%20project.pdf
6 Boaventura de Sousa Santos propõe para uma resistência epistémica face à predominância da
modernidade ocidental, a abordagem teórica que o sociólogo denomina como sociologia das
ausências (2002, 2008). Neste sentido, a força teórica e metodológica desta sua proposta reside
na convicçãao de que: “a sociologia das ausências parte da ideia de que a racionalidade que
subjaz ao pensamento ortopédico ocidental é uma racionalidade indolente, que não reconhece
e, por isso, desperdiça muita da experiência social disponível ou posíivel no mundo” (2008,
20). Para reforçar esta sua postura epistemológica, Boaventura de Sousa
144 Sheila Khan

conceitos de centro e periferia será premente7, pois, este pós-colonialismo conti-


nua desconhecido de si, exilado de si, ao centrar-na ideia de uma Europa coesa
e maior, ignorando, desse modo, as vidas e experiências daqueles que também
são (d)este Portugal e, que, acima de tudo, respiram e habitam o dia-a-dia, a
quotidianeidade portuguesa. Estes homens e mulheres que são pensados como
periferias humanas (Mata 2006; Magalhães 2001) podem ajudar-nos a melhor
mesurar em que medida, ou não, a condição pós-colonial está, em si, curada de
exílios. Por razões de economia de tempo, farei uso de, apenas, dois registos
narrativos compilados durante o meu trabalho de doutoramento8 e pós-dou-
toramento9 — este último, ainda, em curso. Esta minha opção prende-se com a
vontade de acompanhar, segundo uma lente etnográfica, a vida de alguns dos
entrevistados, pensando, através dos testemunhos narrativos por eles partilha-
dos, o pós-colonialismo português do quotidiano, e o espectro do exílio identitá-
rio na pós-colonialidade portuguesa e, inclusivamente, daqueles que do ‘império
como imaginação do centro’ foram personagens secundárias e herdeiros. Defino
esta abordagem, que designo de pós-colonialismo do quotidiano, como o estudo
e análise de narrativas de vida, de identidade, memórias, emoções, vivências e
experiências humanas captadas de um modo espontâneo, mediante a utilização
de meios audiovisuais (documentários, gravadores, etc), e que devem ser
pensadas como propostas espontâneas de reflexão e compreensão do prefixo
‘pós’ no universo de expressão portuguesa.

Santos salienta que: “É sobretudo a diversidade epistemológica do mundo que causa incer-
teza no tempo actual. O saber que ignora é o saber que ignora os outros saberes que com ele
partilham a tarefa infinita de dar conta das experiências do mundo” (2008, 27).
7 Construtos teóricos impulsionados e glorificados pela modernidade ocidental. Como bem
salienta, Enrique Dussel “Modernity appears when Europe affirms itself as the ‘center’ of a
World History it inaugurates: the ‘periphery’ that surrounds this center is consequently part
of its self definition” (citado por Mignolo, 2007: 453; veja-se reflexoes sobre a questao da
relacao entre modernidade e colonialidade em Enrique Dussel, 1995, 2000 e 2002).
8 O trabalho de entrevistas durante o meu projecto de doutoramento, com o titulo ‘African
Mozambican Immigrants: Narrative of Immigration and Identity, and Acculturation Strategies
in Portugal and England’, foi efectuado em Londres, entre 2000 e 2001. Durante este período
de trabalho, entrevistei moçambicanos e moçambicanas que tinham imigrado para Portugal
após a independência de Moçambique e, posteriormente, para Londres, após a entrada de
Portugal na União Europeia.
9 Actualmente, encontro-me no meu projecto de pós-doutoramento, sob uma perspectiva pós-
colonial, cujo o objectivo é definir o rosto da pós-colonialidade portuguesa, a partir de
narrativas de vida e de identidade de moçambicanos habitantes, apenas, em Portugal. Este
projecto tem como título, ‘African Mozambican Immigrants in the former ‘motherland’: The
portrait of a postcolonial Portugal’.
Moçambique Mon Amour: O Mito do Eterno Retorno 145

2.1 O Mito do Eterno Retorno: Novos ‘Centros’– Identitários


‘How far you gonna go, before you loose the way back home’
U2

Os testemunhos que, aqui, gostaria de partilhar resultam de uma selecção


de entrevistas realizadas a dois moçambicanos. Renato10, moçambicano, e
ladrilhador, encontra-se em Portugal desde os seus 14 anos, chega a Portugal em
1994. Por seu lado, Daniela, moçambicana, saiu de Mocambique em 1977. Depois
de uma longa vivência em Portugal, foi viver e trabalhar para os Estados Unidos,
e em 1997 imigrou para a Inglaterra, onde à data da sua entrevista (2001),
encontrava-se num cargo de chefia numa agência de viagens, sediada em Londres.
Renato e Daniela sao dois moçambicanos, que se encontram em duas cidades
distintas, Lisboa e Londres, desterritorializando através das suas narrativas de
vida e de identidade a sua terra-mãe, Moçambique. Para estes dois entrevistados,
a ‘casa’ territorial moçambicana continua bem esculpida nas suas memórias,
onde perduram as suas percepções e imaginário do que foi viver em Mocambique,
durante o tempo colonial. Todavia, em ambos os contextos subjectivos, a itine-
rância identitária em busca de um ‘centro’ reflexo de um esplendor emocional,
social e cultural, mostrou-se bem evidente ao longo das nossas conversas,
resultado da suas vivências pós-coloniais de emigração/imigração. Contudo, esta
procura incessante de tornar rica as suas identidades partiu, sempre, do enten-
dimento de que esta riqueza só seria adquirida através do contacto com outros
novos mundos, novos saberes, outras experiências culturais, enfim outros
centros-identitários. Atente-se aos seguintes registos:
Daniela: “eu considero-me europeia, nao me considero moçambicana,
não me considero portuguesa. Porque, saí do meu país ainda tão novinha,
e muito magoada pela maneira como saí do pais. …considero que uma
pessoa para ser feliz não tem de estar no seu país, tem de se sentir bem
onde estiver. …sim, tenho passaporte português, sim nasci em Moçam-
bique, mas não me considero nem uma coisa nem outra”.[sublinhado
meu]
Renato: “Para te ser sincero, nem sei o que sinto. Acho que, português
não me sinto, de certeza. Mas, ya, moçambicano, ainda sinto. Convivo
muito pouco com moçambicanos. Inventei que a minha terra era o
Brasil. Porque o Brasil é terra dos mulatos, é terra dos mestiços, é terra
da mistura. Aqui [refere-se a Portugal] mandam-nos para África, em
África mandam-nos para aqui. Como é que eu me sinto? Eu não sinto
nada, qualquer dia nem sequer sei quem sou”. [sublinhado meu]

10 Os nomes reais dos entrevistados foram substituídos por outros nomes, pela intenção de manter
protegida as suas identidades.
146 Sheila Khan

Guardando algum tempo de reflexão para a leitura destes breves registos,


permito-me enfatizar o meu argumento de que tal como Portugal, que para se
sustentar na sua colonialidade teve de se imaginar na pele de um ‘império como
imaginação do centro’ (Ribeiro 2003), e na sua pós-colonialidade teve de transfe-
rir esse imaginário para a Europa (Santos 1994)11, também os seus testemunhos-
-herdeiros se envolvem nas mesmas itinerâncias e deslocações identitárias e
imaginárias, na esteira, nao de África, mas desse velho Brasil luso-tropical, ou
dessa Europa cosmopolita, global e trans-moderna (Dussel 2002), retomamdo o
movimento anterior, fazendo uso das palavras de Margarida Calafate Ribeiro
(2003), de um translatio imperii. Estendo esta minha assumpção para um
universo não só nacional (Calafate 2003), mas também, subjectivo, ao pensar
que os sujeitos-protagonistas e narradores daquele ‘império como imaginação
do centro’, são, actualmente, continuadores dessa imaginação constante e dinâ-
mica, deslocando, subjectivamente, o seu centro-identitário que era Portugal,
para outros centros-identitários, realizando, mimeticamente, esse mesmo movi-
mento de transferência, de exílio, de deslocação, enfim, de desterritorialização,
não só geográfica e física, mas também, como o fez outrora Portugal, de identi-
ficação e apropriação ontológica de outras referências e universos culturais.
De facto, será, nos dias que correm, inegável pensar-se na identidade como algo
fixo, inamovível e primordial. Bem, pelo contrário, “as identidades culturais não
são rígidas nem, muito menos, imutáveis. São resultados sempre transitórios e
fugazes de processos de identificação. Identidades são, pois, identificações em
curso” (Santos, 1994: 119).

3. Breve Reflexão Conclusiva


Pensar as percepções e representações itinerantes destes entrevistados é,
metonimicamente, olhar para dentro da condição quer colonial, quer pós-colonial
portuguesa. Mais do que uma reflexão aos conceitos de exílio, e de retorno, este
trabalho permitiu, ainda que de um modo conciso, mesurar as novas roupagens

11 Retomando o paralelismo entre esta minha reflexão e o romance de João de Melo, O Homem
Suspenso (1996), gostaria de sublinhar que, mesmo ao nível de um registo literário, o escritor
tece observacões assaz pertinentes no que concerne a postura geopoltica e identitária de
Portugal, no espaço e tempo da sua pós-colonialidade: “A Europa chegou aqui, entrou, perdeu-
-se da vista e do coração de quem já antes a amava; correu a fechar-se e a trair-nos, trancada
a sete chaves no aquário rosado do Centro Cultural de Belém. Ela dar-nos-á uma nova bússola,
o sextante, as naus e o silêncio da renúncia, da traição, do consentimento” (26); “A condição
humana de Lisboa é o murmúrio destes anos e anos para cima e para baixo, da periferia para
o centro e do centro para a periferia, com regresso diário aos dormitórios mais feios, tristes
e desabrigados do mundo” (65).
Moçambique Mon Amour: O Mito do Eterno Retorno 147

e posturas deste prefixo ‘pós’, em que deixa claro a sobrevivência dos espectros,
ou fantasmas de um passado ainda remanescente nos registos narrativos de vida
e de identidade dos sujeitos pós-colonizados, no tempo e espaço do pós-colo-
nialismo de expressão portuguesa. Mais do que construtos teóricos, olhar para a
realidade humana do retorno e do exílio leva-nos a uma consciência lúcida da
vida, e que Edward Said soube tão sabiamente explanar nas seguintes palavras:
“grande parte da vida de um exilado é ocupada em compensar a perda desorien-
tadora, criando um novo mundo para governar. O exilado sabe que, num mundo
secular e contingente, as pátrias são sempre provisórias. O exilado atravessa
fronteiras, rompe barreiras do pensamento e da experiência” (Said, 2003: 54
e 58).

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On another road: women travelling to other centres

VICKY HARTNACK
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


“I have learned something in my awkward journey through womanhood.
The lessons are few but enduring”
J. Nozipo Maraire

Introduction
Journeying has been a constant throughout African history. Ever since 1500
BC when the Niger Basin saw the departure of the Bantu peoples southwards and
eastwards, Sub-Saharan Africa has been in a constant state of coming and going.
What is relatively new however, is recording for posterity in written form the
sagas of these journeys. There has been a long history of recording movement and
migrations in graphic form as the symbolic language of, for example, the Zulu
peoples shows. In his film, Pau de Sangue (1996), Flora Gomes, the film director
from Guinea-Bissau, ends off his narrative of the clan’s migration and return to
where it began, by showing a mural to depict the journey in visual language. It
acts as a statement, legitimising the history of the clan and its will to survive
radical change as well as threats to its livelihood. Furthermore, although the
mural is drawn by a deaf mute, considered the token village idiot, but who
characteristically perceives and understands more about human nature when
faced with the threat of globalisation than the clan’s leadership, it is a small girl
who explains the mural to us (viewers) and lets us know that somehow the clan
will survive in a new world order partly through her good offices. The combi-
nation of the textual record of the journey of discovery, the cohesion of the clan
and the voice of the girl is a good introduction to what this paper hopes to show.
My aim, therefore, is threefold: to understand that the history of Africa is
the history of migration — mobility, and that women on the move today is a most
important phenomenon in understanding Africa’s dynamic; to look at the way
some women have broken their double subaltern silence and journeyed out in
post-colonial times to explore their own identities as African women (in order to
do so, they have been forced to move — to migrate); and finally, to see how the
stories they are telling are no longer tales told around the village fire. Rather,
they are written down in the language of the former colonisers (English and
152 Vicky Hartnack

Portuguese, for example). In writing them down, these women are legitimising
the history of their struggle to be heard as African women the world over1.

Setting the scene


All Africa’s history is made up of migration; historians have set between 3000
and 1500 BC as the settlement of the Bantu peoples in the Niger Basin, where
the first wave of migrants started off to the south-east as from 1500 BC, while a
second wave moved south-west2. It was a slow, small sporadic movement of clans
bringing iron and smelting technology with them from West Africa as they came.
They settled in the Congo Basin in about 500 BC but over the next one and a
half thousand years, a last phase of migration began where clans pushed on
steadily southwards eventually meeting up with the San people in South Africa.
Pluriculturalism and plurilinguism has therefore been a way of life for many
centuries as peoples crossed natural and manmade boundaries on their way to
somewhere else. But, with rare exceptions, the journeying was always made
within a context of hierarchical, gendered structures of community life. The
patriarchal head of the clan or the group of families leading the way established
the community’s laws and decided when it was time to uproot and move again.
The reasons were generally due to an expanding population in the area and the
risk of war over land rights, a scarcity of resources either due to overgrazing or
poor climatic conditions and a scarcity of water, or the desire to find better living
conditions bringing more opportunities and improving the clan’s standard of
living. Later on, migration was enforced for more sinister reasons due to the
threat of the Arab-run and then the Western-European slave trade, as well as

1 To some readers, what I am about to write may be suspect and there could be questions raised
about my own competence to broach the topic because I am writing as an outsider: African
born and raised to be sure, but a Westerner, a descendent of the colonizer. However, it is
hoped that my condition as a woman and my own origins and life in Africa will not invalidate
the claims I am about to make.
See Audre Laud’s Sister Outsider, Crossing Press, 1984 where she vehemently argued in favour
of the difference among women, seeing the struggle waged by black women as distinct from
that of white women. Also see Jukiana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi, Chapter 1 when she discusses
the difference between Western feminism and African feminism. She asserts that due to widely
different ethnic/racial, historical and cultural factors, it is difficult for a Westerner to perceive
many phenomena affecting the emancipation of African women.
2 Cf.Heine, B. & Nurse, D. (2000): African Languages — An Introduction, Cambridge, CUP, Ch. 2
& 11;
Also: Asante, Melefi Kete (2007). The History of Africa — The Quest for Eternal Harmony,
London, Routledge, Parts 2 & 3; Phillipson. D.W. (2005) African Archaeology, Cambridge, CUP,
Ch. 7 & 8; and D.W. Phillpson (1979) in B. Davidson (1966), Guide to African History,
Northampton. John Dickens Publishing. Chs. 1-5
On another road: women travelling to other centres 153

the 19th and 20th century colonial process. But there is an additional factor about
women on the move in this patriarchal system: upon her marriage, it was normal
for the young wife to leave her own family and go and live with her husband’s
family. It was always the woman to uproot and strike out in a new direction
whether she liked it or not. She was obliged at an early age to confront new
realities and live through new experiences often alone, despite the presence of
other women around her. The tradition continues in rural Africa, which all said
and done still makes up more than 40% of more highly urbanised Southern Africa
and 60%-80% in Northern Sub-Saharan Africa3.
The reasons above are of course valid today for the individual migrant and
more particularly since the early 1960s. When African countries achieved their
hard-won independence, it was believed that many of the woes hitherto suffered
would automatically disappear as new political and social orders took root. The
fact that this has not happened in most cases, and the tendency leading to
urbanisation in a globalised world as rural communities are unable to cope
economically, has given rise to a non-stop exodus to the cities over the last 50
years and hence to other social, economic and cultural environments. However
many negative factors this economic migration has caused in the unruly sprawling
cities of developing Africa, the new setting has nevertheless provided the chance
for another voice, another presence to emerge, hitherto only heard intermittently
as an undercurrent. It has given women the chance to be heard in some small
way. It is not so much writing back to the empire — a man’s world, all said and
done (whether we are talking about the former white colonial masters or those
wielding the power today) — as striking out along a different path to self-
discovery, self-assertion and emancipation.
What is new in the profile of the migrant is the lone woman migrant or groups
of women who migrate within the same country and to/from other, mostly neigh-
bouring, countries. The reasons for women migrating are also largely economic.
According to a 2006 UN study, women make up one third of all the regular
migrants to richer African states4. They are usually married and older, or more

3 See: UN Habitat Report: http://ww2.unhabitat.org/habrdd/africa.html; The World Bank Report


on Poverty: www.4.worldbank.org/afr/poverty/measuring/indicators/discussion_en.htm;
UNICEF and World Health Organization, (2008) A Snapshot of Drinking Water and Sanitation in
Africa, Egypt, Cairo; and Global Trends: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/
region/home/tags/africa; World Bank. 2006. Global Economic Prospects on Migration; “Women
on the move: Gender and cross-border migration to South Africa" by Belinda Dodson for the
Southern African Migration Project, Migration Policy Series No. 9
4 UN-INSTRAW/SAIIA: (2008): In Southern Africa, women are changing the face of Migration.
http://www.saiia.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=170:in-southern-
africa-women-are-changing-the-face-of-migration&catid=45:press-room&Itemid=85
154 Vicky Hartnack

experienced single women. Their main aim is sending remittances back regularly
to their homes and communities so as to feed and educate their children, provide
health care, and generally improve the living standards of their loved ones left
behind. These migrant women work in traditionally ‘female’ occupations (such
as domestic work, care-giving and informal trading) and as a result earn lower
wages, enjoy fewer social benefits and services and are forced to accept worse
working conditions than male migrants. They are also exposed to higher HIV-AIDS
risks and suffer more unemployment than their male counterparts. Moreover,
they are often self-employed and, as many have entered neighbouring countries
illegally and are undocumented, their living conditions are extremely precarious.
This is not to mention the fact that 50% of all cross-border refugees are women
and children (where cases of rape, hunger and infectious sexually-transmitted
diseases are high) and that 80% of the human trafficking involve women and girls
(of whom, 50% are children). Finally, a word should be said about highly educated
African women who have migrated. Their movement is mostly going abroad in a
veritable brain drain. They figure largely among the legal 20,000/year highly
educated African immigrants mostly heading towards Europe and the USA5.

A choice of women writers


How is this migratory movement involving women reflected in creative
writing? Personal history seen in the light of one’s own views and interpretations,
memories, recollections and imaginings of what one — as an individual — has
passed through over the years, is very distinct from a nation’s collective history,
which is the accepted constructed version of an entire community’s history. New
history books are being written to give other interpretations of a historical
process (for example seen from the colonized point of view and not the coloniser’s;
the victim’s version and not the ones in power, etc.). Often «official» versions of
history are remote cultural symbols and iconography that are drummed into
schoolchildren as being a part of their heritage. They are neither fully grasped
in all their multiple interpretations and levels of meaning, nor do they penetrate
the imagination of people. Instead, what individuals remember and what triggers
off their imagination is based upon what they have understood of their commu-

5 Taken from “African Immigrants in the United States are the Nation's Most Highly Educated
Group” in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26. (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61.
http://www.nigeriaknowledgecenter.net/mybboard/Upload/attachment.php?aid=6
Nearly 8 million women migrated in 2000 (about 47% of the total African migration that year).
Source: United Nations press release — 3 march 2005 — Beijing at Ten: http://www.un.org/
womenwatch/daw/Review/documents/press-releases/Beij_Migration_stats_Eng_1.pdf
On another road: women travelling to other centres 155

nity’s history. What is transformed into signifying representations and practices


is what has touched them and involved them personally. This is the stuff legends
are made of — as well as autobiographies and fiction. They recount personal
experience, hardship and triumph sometimes within the community, sometimes
in isolation— usually involving their own lives and their close community’s.
Memory is only really fired into imagination (that may be given form in personal
writing) when events and occurrences touch upon and affect our personal lives
positively or negatively. Then the stories of the self involving the other begin.
Looking over the books on my bookshelf one day, I singled out thirteen
African women authors whom I have read over the previous 15 years and whose
narratives were either wholly autobiographical or had marked autobiographical
influences. Some of the writers are little known because unless they have been
accepted and acclaimed by Western publishers and academia — authors such as
Bessie Head, Paulina Chiziane, Buchi Emecheta, Yvonne Vera or Marjorie Macoye
— it is very difficult to find such books except in the authors’ countries
themselves or in university bookshops abroad. What struck me first was that all
the writing was entrenched in representing life, the women’s own and their
communities’ together with all that was meaningful and life-giving to them. Much
of it could be called engaged literature where there was a concern also for the
greater political and socio-cultural picture of their times. According to their
generation, they cover the colonial period of Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,
the apartheid years in South Africa and post independence/post-apartheid of all
six countries6. The means of portraying this engagement with the life-struggle
varied and called upon different aesthetic choices and combinations often at at
variance with the aesthetic claims made by Western canonical literature. If one
had to make any links at all, then it would be closer to Durkheim’s sense of
denouncing social facts in real life by using personal accounts and fiction, for as
Achebe said: “art is, and was always, in the service of man”7.
Another point that called my attention was the similarity of these women’s
stories despite regional social and cultural differences and the importance

6 Cf: Three scholars and novelists from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya who defend engaged
writing in African literature are: M.W. Serote (2000), C. Achebe (2000) and N. wa Thiong’o
(1986).
7 Taken from: Morning Yet on Creation Day— Essays by Achebe (1975), London, Heinemann.
As regards Durkheim’s theories, I do not mean here the interpretation moved by the nostalgia
for an earlier, simpler, and more cohesive age and neither his positivist stance relying on
observable empirical knowledge. Rather I refer to Durkheim’s belief that people mostly act
according to the standards and rules already laid down by the society in which they live and
interact with each other, although subjective choice and free will also play their part.
156 Vicky Hartnack

that journeying played in their different struggles for emancipation. I therefore


decided to go deeper into the question of moving away from the centre, whatever
that centre might be, to find out how memory and the act of writing down their
recollections helped to create new identities and a sense of belonging in a new
scenario.
The authors come from six different countries and cover three generations
of women: four are South African (Ellen Kuzwayo; Miriam Tlali; Sindiwe Magona
and Zazah Khuzwayo); three are Zimbabwean (J. Nozip Maraire, Yvonne Vera and
Tsitsi Dangarembga); there are two authors each from Nigeria (Buchi Emecheta
and Chimamanda Adichie) and Kenya (Marjorie Macoye and Margaret Ogola), one
from Mozambique (Paulina Chiziane) and an author from Botwana (Bessie Head).
The publications of the three generations of authors extend over a period of nearly
40 years, from the early 1970s up to 2008 although some authors, like Ellen
Kuzwayo started writing late in life and some authors like Bessie Head and Yvonne
Vera were cruelly cut short by their untimely deaths. Some are newcomers to the
world of writing, like the little-known South African writer, Zazah Khuzwayo, and
are yet to prove themselves, while others have found new creative outlets such
as Tsitsi Dangarembga who is also a film-maker. Yet others, like J. Nozip Maraire,
Margaret Ogola and Sindiwe Magona exercise very different professions, such as
in neurosurgery, paediatrics and diplomacy, but have found the time to write.
Only three authors live outside their own countries which they visit regularly
for professional or private purposes: Buchi Emecheta residing in England, and
Chimamanda Adichie and J. Nozip Maraire who are both doing post-graduate work
at Yale University while respectively teaching and practicing medicine.
The question could be raised about dealing with so many apparently
different genres in this exercise, even if united around the subjects of gender
and journeying. Why mix autobiographies, autobiographical novels and memoirs
(South Africans, Ellen Kuzwayo (1985) Call me Woman and Sindiwe Magona in
two volumes: To my Children’s Children, (1990, 1992) and Forced to Grow (1993),
Bessie Head’s autobiographical allegory/parable, A Question of Power (1974) and
memoirs (Zazah Khuzwayo Never Been Home (2006)) with works of fiction that
are a different genre even if they are heavily autobiographical. Magona writes
as “a Xhosa Grandmother” with the deliberate aim of telling her grandchildren
who she is so that they may know who they are (cf. Preface (1990)), but like her
fellow authors, she has also selected events, chose certain historical facts and
philosophised upon realities and aspirations touching upon her own existence,
her clan’s survival and her country's life. In common with many of the non-
autobiographical narratives, there is a lot of political commentary and factual
information demonstrating the heinous nature of the Apartheid regime so
that the writing becomes almost pedagogical in nature, unlike Zazah Khuzwayo’s
On another road: women travelling to other centres 157

memoir — a strictly personal narrative relying heavily on the fictionalised


artefact of direct speech as she records memories of her psychotic father and
his consistent physical, mental and sexual abuse of his daughters and wife.
Surprisingly, in addition to being extremely personal and individualistic writing,
Bessie Head’s autobiographical allegory-cum-parable — and I use this term in the
sense that is a cross between J. I. Onkonkwo’s definition of African allegory and
Frederic Jameson’s explanation of it as something far wider than the Western
genre — would seem to make it the most politicised of the novels8. It is an
allegorical a jigsaw (like Sello, one of the protagonists inside the heroine’s head)
where the author/Elizabeth’s own personal narrative intertwines with symbols,
classical mythological figures (e.g. Medusa), reality “clips” (e.g. Dan’s and his
numerous concubines seductive behaviour) and parables about South African
history seen via its politics of racism and repression. It counteracts Elizabeth’s
desire for reconciliation and racial harmony on a wider scale.
Similar to the fictional narratives, the autobiographies also contain African
myths and legends, going back to a past that has come down to present genera-
tions through word of mouth and traditional story-telling — an art fast disap-
pearing in urbanised Africa, as the younger writers reveal. But perhaps all the
biographical publications are really biomythographies — where the writers
recreate themselves through their writing. According to Ted Warburton,
“Biomythography is the weaving together of myth, history and biography in epic
narrative form, a style of composition that represents all the ways in which we
perceive the world around us”9. In addition to this, the autobiographies,
allegories, memoirs, fictional narratives and epistles are all vehicles in which
the authors recreate themselves under different names and settings. They are
heavily reliant on their own trajectories in life and their personal experiences;
they borrow anecdotal episodes intermeshed with personal interpretations of
representations which give way to fictional aspects, myth, folklore, considera-
tions about the creative process itself, etc.

8 J.I. Onkonkwo’s definition of African allegory stresses the edifying, moral aspect of it and the
relevance of symbols. According to Aijaz Ahmad (1987), Frederic Jameson’s explanation of
allegory, distinct from the Western concept of allegory as something fixed and eternal, implies
fluidity and breadth, covering a wide range of subjects that all point to a national allegory
covering political, social and cultural aspects.
9 Basing his definition on Audre Lauds’s new genre when describing her writing process in, Zami:
A New Spelling of My Name (1983), see Ted Warburton, Theater Arts Department, University
of California, Santa Cruz, http://www.nyu.edu/classes/gilbert/collaboration/pdf/newarts
praxis.pdf
158 Vicky Hartnack

On the other hand, mythobiographies are a combination of relationships with


artistic creation and actual experience so as afford a space in which the author
philosophises about life, writing, art, and even language. Moreover, they also
give their thoughts about the «real» people and events which played a part in
their lives. Some of the novels, as for instance Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous
Conditions (1988, 2001), Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (2004) and Buchi
Emecheta’s Kehinde (1994), seem to me to be mythobiographies, where there is
an attempt to recreate events and people (real and imagined) from the author’s
own past in order to recreate the authors themselves. Lesotho-born Miriam Tlali,
in Between Two Worlds (2004) changes her name to Muriel but builds her identity
not only through a convincing account of an episode in her own professional life
as an office worker but also through her political commentary and speculation
about the nature of racism, the use of language as a pluricultural tool and the
idiosyncrasies of human nature10. Margaret Ogola — the paediatrician when she
is not writing, may well be Dr. Wandia Sigu in The River and the Source (1994),
with her family history retold “for her future grandchildren” in much the same
way as Sindiwe Magona had told her history. As Laura Miller-Purrenhage has said:
“In short, [the author] seeks to mythologize herself. Thus her prose is bound
together not so much by a chronological reading of the events in her life, as it is
by theme, image and sound.” For who is to say what the truth is? Commenting
upon this fact in their different ways, writers as far apart as the contemporary
Mozambican novelist, Mia Couto, and the 19th-century American poet, Emily
Dickenson, both wrote: “Literature is a lie that does not lie…” and mythologizing
oneself is but truth told at a slant11.
But despite this interweaving of sources, most of these narratives are
composed of — to use Pires Larangeira’s words — "demonstrative writing, pre-
senting a crystal-clear, linear argument of a piercingly tragic nature, that even
when at its most mocking, appeals to the reader’s compassion” (my translation)12.

10 Miriam Tlali first published the book under the title Muriel at Metropolitan in 1975 with Raven
Press, and was obliged to make substantial cut to the original. The 2004 edition is unabridged.
11 Mia Couto in an interview in Colina 8, November 2008 (attached to Público 5/12/08) — “A
literatura é uma mentira que não mente. Enquanto escritor eu sou verdadeiro na medida em
que não escrevo senão aquilo que invento”.
Emily Dickinson’s poem: Tell all the Truth but tell it slant (Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
/ Success in Circuit lies / Too bright for our infirm Delight / The Truth's superb surprise / As
Lightening to the Children eased / With explanation kind / The Truth must dazzle gradually /
Or every man be blind—). Source: http://nongae.gsnu.ac.kr/~songmu/Poetry/TellAllThe
TruthButTEllItSlant.htm .
12 In “O feminine da escrita. Espinhoso marfim” in I.Mata & L. Padilha (Eds.) 2008, p.532.
On another road: women travelling to other centres 159

There are however, exception to this clarity and linear quality. Like Bessie Head’s
allegorical biography, the Zimbabwean author, Yvonne Vera’s allegory, Under the
Tongue (1996), is highly symbolic with the river and the inability of both Zhizha
and her grandmother to liberate their trauma by formulating torrents of words
to flow seaward. Furthermore, it in no way mythologises the author. And in this
way, it shares something in common with Kenyan author, Marjorie Macoye’s
Coming to Birth (1986). Rather, both narratives seem to reflect upon themes that
have long been taboo. In writing about their heroines, they give voice to the
unspeakable (incest and rape in Under the Tongue; a wife’s adultery and male
sterility in Coming to Birth).
Similar taboo topics that have yet to be broached on a broader scale by
African writers, are dealt with by the courageous Mozambican author, Paulina
Chiziane in her two novels studied here: Niketche: Uma História de Poligmia
(2002) and O Alegre Canto da Perdiz (2008). Chiziane refuses to call herself a
novelist (romancista), thus demarcating her writing from Western genres. She
states that she is a story-teller. In the same way, Zenzele’s mother in the episto-
lary novel Zenzele (1996) by J. Nozip Maraire takes on the role of the traditional
story-teller of tales and parables in the letters she writes her daughter, studying
medicine at Harvard (like Maraire herself). While Chiziane’s irony is in flagrant
contrast with the earnest, almost self-righteous tone of an Ellen Kuzwayo or the
intense lyricism of Yvonne Vera, she verbalises for all to hear, what has been
common, although unpublicised, knowledge among people in this part of the
world13; she ironically forces recognition of the old patriarchal rationale of
polygamist practices which has its codes of behaviour and responsibility in
contrast to the immune urban philandering and avoidance of family duties Rami’s
husband Tony has been guilty of. She subverts the idea of kuchinga, that brings
Rami sexual gratification and she opens new avenues in making the niketche —
an initiation dance heralding womanhood — the symbol of female sexuality in a
new urban setting. Furthermore, in O Alegre Canto she takes up Fanon’s premise
involving the perverse collaboration between the colonised victim and the
colonial power, and miscegenation as an ironical way out — not to speak of
prostitution and the mythical matriarchal system of the Zambezi women

13 Cf. This account: “During her time in the northern region of Mozambique, one Danish
anthropologist observed that unlike her own experiences learning about women’s sexuality in
a European, Christian context, sexualities were openly discussed and expressed in Mozam-
bique society. A woman’s sexuality was something of her own, part of her personality and
identity as a woman, not defined in relation to, or ‘opened up’ by men” in: African Women
Writers — Yvonne Vera — http://africanwomenwriters.typepad.com/my_weblog/sexualities/
160 Vicky Hartnack

producing a so-called bastardised race to serve imperial interests. This is a theme


— miscegenation — that Bessie Head takes up. It is represented in the person of
Elizabeth (read Bessie herself), a mestiça, a hybrid, who fits in nowhere due to
racial prejudice both in Apartheid South Africa and in independent Botswana;
not only is she too akin to the San people, who are vilified, but she provokes
suspicion in the Batswana community because of her educated Western ways.
All said and done, in contemporary African women’s prose writing, and at
least in the books studied here, the common ground linking the different genres
— which, in themselves, are more flexible here than in Western prose, is far more
extensive than the narrow straits separating them. The heavy biographical
weighting in them seem to shed light on the predicament in which (African)
women find themselves in terms of subalternity, to use Spivak’s term. Not only
is there the burden of past practices and representations to understand and sort
out, but a reassessment and recreation of personal identities needs to be made
away from the traditional centres. The power to be true to oneself and yet
integrate into a community brings peace of mind but it seems it can only be
achieved through migrating away from the source of subjugation. Moreover, self-
realisation and mythologizing that brings about a state of inner harmony may
only be obtained by seeing these stories set in writing in the new centre.

Breaking out from the inner centre


A woman’s identity within the traditional inner centre causes no confusion
— she knows her place in the patriarchal community upheld by the colonial
system where, as Ellen Kuzwayo complained, if a woman wants a passport she has
to ask written permission from her male child if she has no husband. Nevertheless,
a woman has a certain autonomy within this community, (for example, farming
her own patch of ground, keeping her own herd and contributing to the family’s
wealth if she lives in the country side. Here we have an example in Nervous
Conditions where Tambudzai’s mother supports her family largely based on her
dexterity in cultivating her land. In an urban environment where traditional
values and close-knit community links still prevail, a woman may have a job in
the informal sector or in a local school and she may even study at night as we
find with Sindiwe Magona, Zazah Khuzwayo’s mother, Kehinde’s sister or some of
Paulina’s women friends in Marjorie Macoye’s narrative. But the relations she has
within her unit are not symmetrical — she is beholden to male authority, even if
he is a distant relative. A woman knew who she was in the traditional community,
what was expected of her and what she could expect of others. The inner circle
worked both for her — in the sense that it gave her security, companionship and
status (particularly if she commanded an important lobola /bride price or was
On another road: women travelling to other centres 161

a first wife or had many male children). But it also restricted her field of
manoeuvre if she wanted to change an intolerable situation (as for example, non-
compliance by the males of the family to live up to their side of the marriage
bargain, domestic violence, excessive male promiscuity, etc.). And it also kept
her in her place — as a dependent, as a subaltern, often denying her education
and giving her the means whereby she was able to emancipate herself.
This was the strength of the traditional community and was the main reason
of its survival. But it was also the community’s weakness because in order to
challenge her subaltern state, it was necessary for a woman to break free, leave
and possibly never return. Naturally, women in the inner centre found ways of
fulfilling themselves as women, as wives and mothers and as members of the
community. Paulina Chiziane gives a glimpse when elaborating upon the position
of the matriarch in Tony’s family, women’s heightened awareness of their sexual-
ity and attraction in an unambiguous polygamous arrangement and the safeness
of a moral order. Indeed, looking at some of the cases in these women’s writing
— as we shall see further down — there was even a longing to retrace footsteps
into the traditional community. It indicates that there was something to be said
for its certainties, roots and shared community experience. Nevertheless, my
interest lies in the cases recorded in literature about the women who wanted to
go beyond this point to get to other centres.

The outward bound journey


Moving was not, therefore, just going from A to B. Travelling on the road to
other centres meant an interactive, interconnected dislocation process that
involved the actual physical journey where she always set out alone, often
secretly, and always against the odds to go to another centre. In the literature
pertinent to this study, I looked at four kinds of destinations when physically
setting out on the journey: from the rural area to a town in the same country;
from one urban setting to another in the same country, usually involving the
anonymity and opportunity promised by the large city as the final destination;
from an urbanised area to another country usually motivated by a chance to work
or study abroad, or as an exile; and finally, the return journey, whether in order
to go back to one’s roots temporarily or permanently or come back to one’s
country after being abroad.
As regards the first departure point, from the rural community to an urban
area, most women in the narratives suffered hardship due to the fact that they
had been obliged to sever or loosen ties with their extended families and
members of their clan. In cases such as these, they considered themselves as
outcasts, doubting that people would take them in and feeling that they could
162 Vicky Hartnack

trust very few. Lack of money was a constant worry and even if they did not
lack in qualifications, finding work was an on-going headache. Only in very few
journeys away from the reprimanding, restricting circle or community was finan-
cial independence not a problem, simply because the young women in question
were going to other cities to study (e.g. Kambili in Purple Hibiscus). The physical
duress suffered almost seems beyond the understanding of Western readers:
where the next meal was coming from, how to look presentable for a job interview
when she only had one change of clothes; how to scrape up enough money for a
bus fare; how to pay for tuition so as to better her situation, etc. Although little
talked about, the journeys themselves were fraught with danger — whether it
was going by donkey cart to the nearest bus terminal, catching the train (3rd
class), or a getting a lift in a hair-raising taxi ride. Unlike the Western traveller
of today, where the journey itself is the target for the experience it affords, to
the migrant, the shorter the time spent on the physical journey, the better.
A journey such as this is not for savouring but is a necessary step that must taken
to get to the much-dreamt of destination — as any migrant washed up on a
Mediterranean beach after a hazardous piroga voyage will tell you. Very often,
domestic violence lay at the bottom of the desire to flee, a point we shall be
looking at further on.
But there were more levels attached to the act of journeying. The social and
cultural implications of the journey cannot be underestimated as the hitherto
unambiguous condition of their lives, now became far more complex in the way
that the structure of their world fell away. It involved them in the struggle to
find a new niche in a new community life with its different social and cultural
values, modes of organisation and rules and regulations.
All the women striking out along new routes had to learn to deal with new
communicative modes of expression. They did not only have to learn the language
of the coloniser if they did not know it fluently enough, but they had to under-
stand and learn how to handle a new semiotic system that extended beyond
the linguistic system and influenced social and cultural codes and behaviours.
They also had to learn to handle new forms of appropriate behaviour, suppressing
emotions in more cosmopolitan societies or in circumstances where direct
contact was made with the white population (as Sindiwe Magona discovered when
she saw how far liberal white activists would go when the anti-apartheid struggle
reached its peak in the 1980s). As naïve country women, they also had to learn
how not to be duped when meeting up with street-wise 2nd or 3rd generation
African city-dwellers. Being young in practically all cases, the women had to
overcome their hopelessly inadequate education that had failed to prepare them
for the life they were going into.
On another road: women travelling to other centres 163

Many were mission educated within the strict confines of Church doctrine.
They had to struggle to understand the difference between the traditional concept
of sin and the mundane business of living within the close confines of township
and ghetto life and its resulting promiscuity, violence and petty criminality. They
had to learn to seek new spiritual counselling as they confronted crises of faith
in other realities. Paulina in Coming to Birth and Nyabera/Maria in River at the
Source join evangelical organisations, although her brother Peter is a Catholic
bishop14; Ellen Kuzwayo, a fervent Catholic becomes regional head of the YWCA,
and even the modern city girl, Zazah Khuwayo becomes a born-again Christian
for a time. On the other hand, Sindiwe Magona’s mother in the sprawling slums
outside Cape Town turns back to her roots and becomes a sangoma/traditional
healer, while Delfina in O Canto Alegre seeks out the witchdoctor’s powers to
satisfy her greed for money and status. It is interesting to note the role of the
Church in these instances. While serving as a spiritual prop, and in some cases
as a vanguard denouncing poverty and humiliation particularly during colonial
times, it also delivered its pious message of submission, replacing clan authority
and pagan mysticism with the authority of the church fathers allied to the state.
It therefore did little to change women’s subservient role, except, perhaps to
extend them a modest mission education provided the male head of the household
agreed. The influence the church was, in fact, fundamental for its role attempt-
ing to replace rural religious beliefs by providing girls with a rudimentary mission
education. However, in Zazah’s case in Never Been Home, and owing to the
climate of fear and repression in her household due to an abusive, drunken father
who, as a policeman, collaborated with the Apartheid system, she went through
a stage in which she despised the church and God for not coming to her rescue.
Not so with Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Tambudzai, whose struggle to become educated
and escape her rural background with its limited opportunities for women, saw
her embrace Church-led routine at least temporarily; she won a scholarship in
the all-white Sacred Heart College of Umtali run by the nuns in a pre-independent
Zimbabwe. In spite of its segregation policy, the college would do its best to
alienate Tambudzai from her African heritage.
Furthermore, despite the fact that Chimamanda Adiche brings up the question
of a de-Christianised Europe seeking vital new human resources in a Christianised
Africa when a young black Igbo priest is sent to a new parish in Germany, she
also gives us a 21st century setting in Eastern Nigeria, where the Achike household
in Purple Hibiscus is held in the quasi neo-colonial grip of the Catholic ritual and
dogma as represented by an Irish priest. Nothing seems to have changed since

14 Margaret Ogot herself is a member of the Catholic-inspired movement, Opus Dei.


164 Vicky Hartnack

Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Indeed, colonial rule not only perpetuated this state
of helplessness and lack of autonomy, but enforced it so that women ended up
by being doubly disenfranchised. So how else was she able to find new openings
and new identities unless she broke away physically and culturally from her
entrapment?
Finally, interacting with and influencing the physical journey and the social
and cultural passage to independence, came the feminine journey to self-discov-
ery and empowerment through finding her own mode of expression. This in turn
led to new modes of social interaction in the new scenario and a new sense of
self-achievement and satisfaction. After all, was not this newly found sense of
self-worth the basic reason of a woman’s journey in the first place? In all cases,
she had to quickly throw off her ingenuousness and her restricted world view to
tackle the ambiguities of cosmopolitan life in mixed communities, where hardship,
variety and challenge rubbed shoulders and where a state of preparedness and
being informed was essential. But more than that, it meant finding her voice
and finding the conditions in which she was able to exercise the right to speak
and the right to be heard.
From Nigeria to Zimbabwe and Botswana, and from Kenya to Mozambique
and South Africa, the finding of the feminine voice has not only meant that
characters in fiction are heard to utter words which until then, were held under
the tongue, to use Yvonne Vera’s title. Rather, it is that women have started to
write about themselves and about other women like them.
We need to look at the narratives a little more closely to see how the first
step in finding their voices — the act of migrating, of physically moving from the
rural area to the town — was dealt with by some of the writers. It marked the
very first decisive step in triggering off the process leading to self-discovery and
self-expression. It meant that this was the most crucial stage, where breaking
out of the secure inner circle was the most difficult thing to do simply because
it involved the greatest courage, the greatest challenge. It was usually done
alone where facing formidable obstacles became even more daunting. Once the
rural area had been left, it was easier to make the transition to the large city
far away, and hence to a neighbouring country or abroad.
All of the three South African autobiographies describe how the writers, Ellen
Kuzwayo, Sindiwe Magona, Zazah Khuzwayo went from the rural area to the
nearest city, despite their different reasons. Ellen, coming from a former
educated ruling class of landowners who been disposed by the colonial masters,
was a teacher in her husband’s rural village. His constant physical aggression
made her fear for her life. Thus, with great misgivings, she decided to leave him
and her two young sons and head for Johannesburg, for safety and for political
involvement. Sindiwe and Zazah had come as children together with their mother
On another road: women travelling to other centres 165

and other siblings from the poverty-stricken rural backwaters of the Cape
Province and the Natal respectively to be their fathers in Cape Town and Durban.
The narratives speak of the ensuing hardships suffered by these migrant families
living in the outlying poverty-stricken and crime-ridden slums of the large cities.
Marjorie Macoye’s Paulina went through a similar uprooting. She was also a
rural Luo girl who married young and went off to the capital, Nairobi, to be with
her young husband. Nevertheless, as her childless marriage failed, she went back
to her home near Lake Victoria, to learn how to do needlework and become a
crafts teacher. She won her economic independence this way. It is ironical, that
she returned to Nairobi years later, after the death of her young son born from
an adulterous relationship to become a glorified servant. Far from pursuing her
independence as a small business woman in a now independent country, she
preferred the “safety” of domestic service as a nanny, taking back her errant
husband and discovering she was pregnant at nearly forty with his first child.
Coming to Birth makes no shattering claims: it merely ends in Paulina’s loss of
illusions and the fact that previous suffering has made her less demanding with
herself and less judgemental of her husband; with this new equanimity, she
slowly moves outside her small world as she gains confidence and becomes more
politicised and active in her community. It is a modest, but thoroughly realistic
finale. It is also different from Margaret Ogola’s narrative which stretches down
through the generations, setting off from the source: a royal marriage in pre-
First World War Luo country that only brings disaster to subsequent generations
as they move away in search of a new beginning and spiritual fulfilment after
their power has been treacherously usurped first by rivals and then by the
colonial government. Old gods are replaced by the more powerful white-man’s
God who accompanies the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
through another world war and a liberation struggle. As the descendents of this
original royal family moves with the times, it becomes urbanised, educated and
eventually makes part of the new black ruling class of independent Kenya. The
original royal blood now comes out as society acknowledges the brilliant doctor,
Wandia, and her exemplary family; it is a success story in itself. The weak links
in the family — those who cannot resist the pull of the futile, godless consumer
culture with its false cosmopolitanism, disappear (such as Wandia’s wayward
sister, Becky). Unlike Macoye’s intention, Ogola’s narrative, which could be the
story of her own life and family, is morally uplifting and uses family history/status
as a prop when defining merit.
Perhaps the most wretched of rural existences is symbolised in Yvonne Vera’s
young protagonist, Zhizha, and her grandmother who never managed to flee the
spectre of the father’s rape of his small daughter. Even moving from one rural
place to another eking out their subsistence, they seemed live in a suspended
166 Vicky Hartnack

state waiting for the day Zhizha’s mother would emerge from jail after having
served her sentence for killing her unnatural husband. We are left in doubt
whether she would find the wherewithal to take charge of the direction of their
lives. Rather they are as three waifs meandering this way and that in a hostile
world, surviving the best they can. Despite having found their voices, they are
nevertheless never heard above a whisper.
Rami in Niketche, as well as four of his other concubines were fetched by
Tony, also a policeman, either from the Zambezi or the north of Mozambique
where obedient rural women were taught how to gratify their husbands and live
in polygamous households. But theirs is not so much the journey from the north
to Maputo, as making their way around Maputo and learning the ways of a large
urban centre while traversing routes to economic independence. Each of the
narratives is set against a stark colonial background where the main characters
are in complicity with the authoritarian regime in some way. Tony’s wives survive
the city (and his neglect) by forming an alliance to empower themselves within
a polygamous environment by discovering their own capacity for setting seductive
stratagems while providing for their families. The same could be said of
Chiziane’s Delfina in O Alegre Canto. Her journey is from the quayside where she
is a prostitute catering to white sailors in the 1950s, to crossing the invisible line
segregating the white suburbs from the black, only to head north to the Namuli
Mountains after she finds that her black skin will never assimilate her into the
white world of the colonist; the call of her own history and culture as a black
African woman is too strong to be denied.
This «going back» is part of a personal and ethnic liberation process. It
means going back and accepting the wisdom of the ancestors, valuing the
community cohesion forged in the playing out of rites and rituals, as well as the
social bonding that some age-old customs represent — and this at a time when
the rest of the world seems bent on casting away its history as rushes out to live
the here-and-.now. Going back also features in Nosip Maraire’s epistle where the
mother, Shiri, urges her daughter, Zenzele, to learn about her own personal
history in Chakwa where the maternal roots are. She needs to confirm her
identity before she loses sight of herself when she goes off to Columbia University
to study. She should listen when her illiterate but charismatic grandmother tells
her who she is and what the meaning of a woman's life is. She should see her
grandmother’s calloused hands, thus demonstrating how a woman’s power is
more pragmatic in keeping her family and her community together. The hybrid
life of cosmopolitan Harare and the language of the coloniser cannot replace the
symbols, rituals and identity of the Shona people, and Zenzele needs to be made
aware of this before she chooses her path in life. However, going back did not
really work for Elizabeth in A Question of Power. Like her author, Bessie Head,
On another road: women travelling to other centres 167

Elizabeth has a mental breakdown as she struggles to find a niche for herself in
rural Botswana. Her refuge into madness, not only caused by her own traumatic
personal history is a way of rejecting her birth-country's vicious repressive system
and the centuries of suffering caused her indigenous people. It is also a protest
against her host country’s coolness towards her. All this is examined in a long
and excruciatingly painful allegoric journey played out in Elizabeth’s own
imagination.
This descent in madness — or at least obsessive behaviour — is also patent
in Nyaha, Dangarembga’s other heroine, who is the reverse side of Tambudzai
and her eagerness to acquire a Western education. Nyasha is also a hybrid having
lived her childhood in England. She is no longer able to speak her native language
Shona or identify with Shona cultural values; she rejects the strong patriarchal
behaviour and narrow Christian values of her father; she has grown weary of the
conflicts she causes at home by questioning her mother’s and her own subservient
position. Thus, she silences herself almost to death by starving herself while
obsessively throwing herself into her studies and alienating herself from those
around her. The journey back has disempowered her in much the same way that
Buchi Emecheta’s Kehinde was silenced and oppressed by an Igbo culture grown
foreign to her (particularly the polygamous condition she finds herself in on
her return to Nigeria after almost 17 years in London). She returns to London to
start over again, alone, fighting against the odds, acquiring further education,
changing her profession, earning the respect of her children and finding love
again. She becomes self-sufficient and an active member of the (migrant)
community on the fringe of standard British society. But all this has to happen
away from her birth place.
Hence, we find that although immigrating to another country comes with
financial comfort whether in the form of wealthy parents or a scholarship, the
return is generally traumatic. Muriel/Miriam in Between two Worlds, does not
go back to her home country, Lesotho. She stays in Johannesburg, her adopted
city, the microcosm representing Apartheid South Africa. She discovers she is not
the only immigrant working in the electrical appliance firm. Most of her co-
workers are migrants; her boss is a Jewish refugee Europe; the Italian mechanics
who want to hire her are white economic immigrants. She knows that ultimately
speaking, white immigrants to a racist regime work against her as surely as if
they were the Boers in power, represented in this microcosm by the white female
clerical workers and the white electricians repairing the appliances. As an
educated black woman, her dignity and independence is preserved when she
chooses to walk out of the door into unemployment.
Without a single exception, one of the driving forces behind all the journeys
made by these women lies in acquiring an education or using the education they
168 Vicky Hartnack

have gained sometimes at tremendous personal cost in a befitting way. Thus,


Muriel’s decision not to work at Metropolitan. The traditional opening for
educated women, as Sindiwe Magona explained, lay in either teaching or nursing.
Indeed, in these 14 narratives, 7 of the protagonists are lowly paid, teachers at
the bottom of the scale15. It was the most black women could aspire to until
independence, as Ellen Kuzwayo aptly showed in her autobiography with her
desperately short list of the black women in South Africa who had managed to
become medical doctors or lawyers between 1947 and 1982 (2006:264-6). Having
an education meant a steady job and a better income, as well as status in the
community. But it also meant continuing the social role that women had always
played even in their traditional societies. It is not by chance that Ellen Kuzwayo
becomes a welfare worker after leaving teaching and that Buchi Emecheta’s
Kahinde, on her return to England takes her degree in social science. Even the
young heroines, Zenzele and Wandia continue with this socialised awareness
when they study medicine. Only two women venture out of this feminine choice
of professions: Muriel who has a Business degree and Zazah Khuwayo who studies
electrical engineering for a while before dropping out due to financial problems.
Paulina Chiziane’s heroines have no formal educational qualifications but Delfina,
the former prostitute and a white man’s one time fancy woman in O Canto Alegre
wants her mestiço daughter to get a good education and marry well. Niketche’s
Rami, the-self taught business woman in the informal trading sector, sends all
her children to school, realising that education is essential if one is to shake off
poverty and submission — as Tony’s educated paramour, Eva, demonstrates. It is
only Bessie Head/Elizabeth who turns her back on teaching to become a farmer
in an international cooperation programme for subsistence farmers in the semi-
desert lands of Motabeng, Botswana. She finally achieves a balance with nature
in harmony with her social and communitarian awareness.
Underlying or even overlapping the journey through the educational system,
is a growing political awareness of not only of their own disenfranchised
predicament as women in a violent hegemonic male world, but their place in an
unfair society, whether from an economic/ class point of view or a racial/ethnic
point of view. Apartheid South Africa is not the only cause of enforced racial
separation. During the time of writing their narratives, the Shona people in
former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the Luos in Kenya, the Igbo in Nigeria and the

15 Ellen Kuzwayo, Sindiwe Magona, Bessie Head’s Elizabeth, Tsitsi Danagremba’s Babmakuru and
Maiguru who are Nyash’a parents and Tambudzai’s uncle and aunt, Nozip Maraire’s Shiri who
is Zenzele’s mother, Chimamanda Adichie’s Ifeoma, who is Kambili’s. beloved aunt, Margaret
Ogola’s Elizabeth Owiti (Wandia’s mother); Marjorie Macoye’s Paulina who is a crafts teacher.
On another road: women travelling to other centres 169

San (Basarwa) in Botwana are also singled out for harassment and repression.
Kambili’s father, an influential Igbo newspaper editor is poisoned presumably by
a federal Government agent and Aunt Ifoema is forced into exile for her outspoken
criticism of the regime. Ellen Kuzwayo lands up in prison for supporting Steve
Biko, her son’s friend, and joining in the Soweto children’s protest. Sinde Magona
is held for questioning by the feared ‘special branch’ of the Apartheid police as
she joins in the slum clearance protests and school-children’s strikes. Cousin
Linda in Rhodesia in Zenzele, goes to Tanzania for freedom-fighter training and
Elizabeth/Bessie Head crosses the border to Botswana and never returns, so
hateful has her persecution by the South African secret police been.
Tambudzai, on the other hand, has seen that she has to «cross over» and
take advantage of the opening white society gives her, just as Delfina’s daughter
Maria Jacinta does when she marries a white man in colonial Mozambique. Delfina
herself has become assimilated because of the benefits it will bring her. She
has been the driving force behind José dos Montes, her first black husband’s
assimilation and integration into the feared and fearsome colonial police force
bent on wiping out all hostile black faces. But Delfina’s rationale is interesting
in its contradiction: she thinks if no one were black, the killing, repression and
segregation would stop. She only realises how wrong she has been in her dream
of a hybrid mestiço when she sets off to find her black daughter, Maria das Dores,
whom she had sold into a polygamous marriage to an old man. Even after
independence, the destruction of social and cultural barriers does not happen
because new classes are established and the divide line continues to be economic
and political. Only Zazah Khuzwayo seems blithely unaware of class, colour or
ethnic group — befitting in a country that prides itself on the epithet of Rainbow
nation.

The inward journey to the feminine centre


The leap from alterity to otherness is like coming to birth — to borrow
Marjorie Magoye’s title. It is a violent process involving rupture and pain. In fact,
violence seems to be the background and the foreground of all of the women's
writings under study here. Before the birthing process, before breaking the
silence, constructing another identity and transposing the new self on the
community (and, perhaps the independent African nation as it strives to
“mythify” its own presence), these women’s worlds have been filled with
violence of one kind or another. In a well-run, harmonious community, gratuitous
violence is always controlled. The custom may be that a man may beat his wife
for certain reasons that the community elders believe are valid enough to
warrant physical punishment; he may claim his dead brother’s wife and take
170 Vicky Hartnack

multiple wives; his male children may take precedence over his wife/wives; he
may demand his daughters undergo clitorodectomy and have his wife killed if
she commits adultery; he may entirely disregard the wishes and aspirations of
the female family members and enforce his own desires. But he must do so within
the limits of the community laws. He may not commit incest, sell his children
into prostitution, abandon his family or jeopardise the health and lives of its
members by committing excesses. However, when the good governance of the
clan breaks down due to dispersion, war, catastrophe or abnormal states such as
colonialism, then violence may become way of life — particularly if it helps an
outside hegemonic power. Bessie Head makes this clear in A Question of Power,
where Dan — the virile but lewd black man with his 71 concubines who lives in
her temporarily insane imagination, represents South Africa’s violent and
repressive colonial history. And Margaret Ogola’s matriarchal figure,
Nyabera/Maria, in River at the Source shows that divided clans with tyrannical
chiefs such as Otieno Kembo, also crumble into anarchy. Hence, when order is
absent because the community has failed to function as such, women have to
safeguard their own and their family’s protection on an individual basis, as
witnessed when Zhizha’s mother in Under the Tongue kills her rapist husband.
The degree of abnormality is made more obscene when women help to
subjugate other women. Paulina Chiziane in O Canto Alegre da Perdiz, describes
how Delfina sold her 13 year-old daughter, Maria das Dores, into a polygamous
marriage for the sake of a small sum of money which was promptly spent on
liquor. Kambili, Nyasha and Zazah’s mothers passively looked the other way or
went silent when their husbands beat or sexually abused their daughters. Paulina,
Kehinde and Ellen Kuzwayo, received the cold shoulder from their families when
they decided they could not live with the intolerable situations their husbands
had created. Nonetheless, the extended families of the male partners still came
out in favour of errant husbands and fathers even if they failed to live up to their
duties, abandoning or neglecting their families as happened with Sindiwe
Magona, or Rami and the other informal wives in Niketche, with Kehinde and
with Zazah Khuzwayo’s mother.
Fortunately, not all fathers and husbands fall into these categories but
perhaps only Muriel’s husband and Zezele’s father come out in a favourable light.
When set against the younger generation of women, the men appear less in
control, almost passive, somewhat silent. After all, the colonial situation made
victims out of all black men as well. The only man to get up and move off in his
own direction is Delfina’s white common-law husband when he has had enough
and goes back to his white wife in Portugal. He can afford to. He represents the
white colonist — albeit benevolent father to his half-caste children — with his
roots in his homeland.
On another road: women travelling to other centres 171

Despite the odds, all the narratives are success stories showing how the main
female protagonists making the outward journey have arrived at their own inner
selves. Because their bodies, their identities are not static sites of oppression,
they have been able to create their own conditions for building their otherness.
They have shattered the destinies that were fixed for them in patriarchal
contexts and have gone out alone to find their new, less shackled womanhood.
The physical journey to other localities to be educated or to work, the social and
cultural journeys leading to cosmopolitanism and learning how to survive in other
realities, and the psychological journey to consolidating notions of their own self-
worth and self confidence have led to self expression. Thus, rather than being
hindered by the myths, the politicised explanations and the historical content,
the moral, pedagogical note is heightened. The story-telling seems to spur other
women to journey out and find their voices, too.

Conclusion
Whether it is in writing their autobiographies, their mythobiographies,
biomythographies, allegories, epistles or stories, the authors who have written
about these women and their struggle to break their alterity and be heard, have
also recovered their historical space once occupied by oral story-telling. The
writers’ journeys, therefore, just as their heroines’ journeys, have been in the
sense of creating their own space, destroying what seemed to be the hegemonic
male presence in African literature. Their work has come up with some refreshing
alternative views as they themselves made their way from the rural areas to the
city and thence, very often, to other worlds in the great the Diaspora. Far from
adopting Western stances related to gender issues, they have worked within the
storehouse of their own memories, experiences and struggles in colonial and
post-colonial settings. Furthermore, they have fashioned surprising new aesthetic
patterns into which they have woven new linguistic uses and symbolic meanings.
It is not so much writing back to a man’s world, as striking out along a different
path to self-discovery, self-assertion and self-expression.
“(…) it is the concept of silence, not any specific cultural concept of
meaning, which is the active characteristic linking all post-colonial texts.
It is the same silence which also challenges metropolitan notions of
polysemity, and which resists the absorption of post-colonial literatures
into the new universalist paradigms which emerge in the wake of post-
structuralist accounts of language and text."
The Empire Writes Back (1989,2004: 184-5)
172 Vicky Hartnack

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II

Discovering and disclosing: landscapes in the


discourses of explorers and tourists
Introdução

A
s comunicações reunidas nesta secção tratam de turismo e de expedições
e do modo como essas duas formas de viagem modelam a experiência
humana do espaço e a imagem que se faz do mundo. Talvez possa parecer
insólito juntar sob o mesmo foco turistas e exploradores e os discursos por eles
produzidos. A verdade, porém, é que há bastante mais em comum neles do que
à primeira vista se julga. É a curiosidade, traduzida num desejo de descobrir e
de revelar, que normalmente motiva turistas e exploradores e os lança na viagem.
A relação entre viajar, conhecer e desvendar é também, por isso, o principal
traço de união entre os nove textos que se seguem.
Dois artigos com a capacidade de nos desafiarem a pensar teoricamente as
relações que há entre o viajar, o descobrir e o revelar abrem esta secção. O pri-
meiro é um artigo de José Ramiro Pimenta que escolhe as viagens de S. Paulo
para tema. O segundo, um artigo de Emilia Ljungberg sobre o livro de François
Maspero Les passagers du Roissy-Express. São dois textos que, de certa forma,
questionam a ontologia da viagem e o sentido que a descoberta tem nela,
colocando para isso o turismo e as expedições ao espelho, diante das suas
próprias imagens invertidas. As viagens espirituais de S. Paulo são expedições a
contrario sensu, nascidas de uma necessidade de revelar e não de uma vontade
de descobrir, e o mesmo se passa até certo ponto no caderno de viagens de
François Maspero dedicado à gente vulgar que circula nos comboios dos subúrbios
de Paris e à paisagem ferroviária do RER, onde o longínquo e exótico cedem lugar
ao ordinário e banal.
Os cadernos de viagem são o tópico de dois outros artigos desta secção, um
da autoria de Ana Francisca de Azevedo e o outro de Anna Maj. Trazendo a público
excertos dos seus próprios apontamentos de viagem, Ana Francisca de Azevedo
178

questiona-se sobre a sua condição de geógrafa enquanto viaja e os termos em


que produz conhecimento sobre o espaço e os lugares. O artigo de Anna Maj, por
seu turno, olha para os blogs e outros conteúdos da Web 2.0 como uma nova
geração de apontamentos de viagem feitos pelos turistas contemporâneos,
procurando analisar o impacte das novas tecnologias de informação e comu-
nicação e do multimedia na experiência da viagem. Anna Maj argumenta que
estas novas tecnologias e métodos de comunicação não só estão a transformar a
forma e o conteúdo do discurso de turistas e viajantes, mas também o próprio
paradigma perceptual da viagem e até mesmo os modos de viajar.
Sobre uma outra forma muito particular de registo das impressões de viagem
é o artigo de Au Chung-to, que nos introduz na original obra poética de Leung
Ping-kwan. Nela, os lugares são captados e descritos através do sabor das suas
comidas. Percorrendo a obra Travelling with a Bitter Melon, que reúne poemas
de Leung Ping-kwan produzidos entre 1973 e 1989, Au Chung-to conduz-nos numa
viagem onde a experiência do espaço e dos lugares se faz através dos sabores e
aromas dos alimentos que os caracterizam.
Os três textos seguintes, de Anne T. Browne Ribeiro, sobre a Amazónia, e de
Inês Pessoa e Justina Cheang, sobre Macau, dedicam-se a analisar o modo como,
através das viagens, se produzem imagens sobre os espaços visitados e as pessoas
que os povoam. Ressalta destes três textos como ideia chave que só na mobili-
dade é possível fazer uma experiência vivida do próximo e do distante, do seme-
lhante e do diferente, e de que a viagem constitui por isso um instrumento
essencial na construção da própria ideia de identidade. Ainda que abordando
casos diversos nos seus referenciais históricos e geográficos, percebe-se nos três
textos como o ‘selvagem’ e o ‘exótico’ constituem categorias básicas na constru-
ção das narrativas sobre os lugares-outros visitados e as pessoas que os povoam.
Finalmente, o artigo de Mark Haywood, sobre a África do Sul e os seus par-
ques de vida selvagem, mostra-nos o quanto o imaginário turístico é poderoso e
até que ponto o discurso, no caso concreto do turismo, pode ser antecipatório
e modelador da própria paisagem real.

Eduardo Brito-Henriques
Centro de Estudos Geográficos
IGOT, Universidade de Lisboa
Travel books and scientific explorations: from body
to theory

ANA FRANCISCA DE AZEVEDO


Universidade do Minho

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


Introduction
This paper configures a travel carved by the desire of knowledge. A route
designed through the disclosing of body and theory. As a mobile of the practice
of travel, the travel book is the materialization of a certain kind of scientific
exploration through which people try to find the sense of places, describing their
experience of landscape. But this has to do with the effect of different medium
implied for the organization of experience. Though my route of interception be-
tween geography and cinema. As a goal of scientific inquiry, cinematic landscape
challenges established categories of space and time, forcing the compreension
of the relational frames inside which people rethink the being in the world.
The traveling theory brought here, is not moved by the envy of making room
for any hierarchy of concepts or methodologies as means of legitimating discour-
sive forms and dominant subjectivities. Though its own condition of traveling
theory.
Each moment of my travel book results from the challenge opened by the act
of writing to the translation of the experience of landscape. In this sense, I have
tried to surpass the appealing sensuality of circumscription in its subliminar
service of closing up the operations of creation and desire. Inside them, the impe-
tus of spatialization of subjects in formation and the geophysical movements
which animate territories of contact, the dynamics of borders and boundaries.
The interception of geography and cinema, potentialy breads the power of
two centralities, but the centrifugal movement that resends us in each film to
‘other’ geographies (and temporalities), announces a route of experimentation
of emergente identities that must be taken into account.

Geography and cinema


Denouncing the reorganization of the technologies of experience, cinema
allowed the development of a perceptive system and a system of emotions that
integrates the symbolic worlds of different individuals and groups, of fragmentary,
mutable, and heterogeneous subjects. Cinemas status as a popular art contributed
to surpass the classic model of public sphere and to forge out new models
directed for a pluralistic social action. As a symbolic form (Panofsky, 1982),
182 Ana Francisca de Azevedo

cinema operates the translation of complex geographies brought through daily


life. Its capacity to record and reveal physical reality (Kracauer, 1997) compels
us to wonder through places engendered by film. But what does that mean in
what concerns to the evolving relation between human being and physical world?
Each film functions as a practice of mapping, a practice of mapping of the
lived spaces of emotion and affect (Bruno, 2002), far from the monologic universe
of a given order of knowledge. Though, from the relation between geographical
speechs and filmic speeches result some of the most meaningful proposals for
the reevaluation of the sense of place, in the present moment we live.
It is within this frame that my critical route should be understood. Inside
this route of travel reading and writing, travel book is the result of an act of
translation of different worlds and languages. This is, in so far, an integral part
of a generative path which:

a) questions an order of knowledge established in the centers of power


(Geography)
b) unveils the complexity of a sign system whose active work announces the
deep transformations occurring in the relations between human being and
physical worlds (Landscape)
c) experiments contexts of negotiation and of representation of subjectivi-
ties, namely of the authorial subject of the screen.

Acting as a pre-ontology which structures the way I approach the physical


world, each page of my travel book shows a trajectory through texts, written,
visual and audiovisual documents, the relation between images and words,
movement and sound, time and rhythm.
This allowed me to understand geography and spatialization as epistemic
structures.
While mapping and translating different cinematic landscapes, my own text
opened up to generative spaces inside which geography is analised as a concretion
of subjectivities. My speech is also reviewed as a situated knowledge (my knowl-
edge is always a vision of home, from my own body, with its countless gates to
other bodies).
In this sense, my travel book gives way to a practice of scientific inquiry
inside which the critical process of geographical spacialization is, above all, a
process of multiple inhabitation of spaces through bodies, of the psychic
dynamics and of the dynamics of the social relations.
Taking perception as an event of contact with multiple presences and
absences, this process is still nurtured by the dialogical action of borders, zones
of contact between technologies and representations, areas where social relations
Travel books and scientific explorations: from body to theory 183

and acts of negociation take shape, and where excentric and subaltern identities
fractures the logic of a coherent and objective space.
And this is a great challenge for a discipline traditionally worried with
questions of diversity and diffusion, redirected now to questions of diference
and to identity politics that open the possibility for more inclusive institutions
and public debates, having into account an idea of culture not as an organic
whole but as a structure of feelings. Thinking space in those terms implies having
it as an articulation of collisions between speech, fantasy and corporeality,
between representations and material reality. Such a formulation upgrades the
complexity of space, allocating this notion as a potentially unstable and contro-
verse construct. Having into account the relations between conceptualized,
perceived and lived space, this formulation, in a certain sense, accentuates the
dominant logics of power, truth and knowledge, but at the same time, it functions
as a force which continually gets at stake with the generative logics of differential
practices of space.

From theory to practice


As it happens in any travel book, my text evinces the bodily practice of
place, the act of interpretation and translation of different worlds. Setlled in a
position of traveler and icononaut [sic] and entangled with the comprehension of
the nature of the filmic place, I slowly and sistematicaly gathered the fragments
of cinematic landscape which allowed me the definition of a traveling theory.
Hanged over by an analytic dispositive which enabled me the comprehension of
cinematic landscape, I walked through rough territories even for a geographer;
from filmic studies to biophilosophy. This was the only maner through which I
could deepen the comprehension of landscape as a transdisciplinar subject.
The definition of an analytic technology able of rendering the experience of
landscape within an alternative relational frame, asked the triangulation of
elements from iconology and filmic semiotics. Shaped by a critical and revisionist
sensibility which characterizes the contemporary movement of landscape
approach by Cultural Geography, this technology allowed me to go a step further
in the discussion of landscape as a cultural construction, as an idea and as
experience.
The identification of a theorectical frame sustained by the idea of cinema as
a cultural product able of rendering the role of countless geographical imagina-
tions in the organization of the daily life experience, enabled me to attend to the
relation between aesthetic practices and the practice of physical environment.
The emergence of an analytic problem centered in the cinematic landscape,
conducted to the definition of an interpretative frame erased under an analytic
184 Ana Francisca de Azevedo

technology able of answering to the need of comprehension of the meaning


of cinematic landscape as a geographical speech and as a deeply mediated
experience.
The approach to this question led to the definition of a frame able of answer-
ing to the theorectical and practical imperatives of my scientiphic inquiry
connecting socio-cultural practices apparentely so diverse such as geography and
cinema.
The anchors of the analytic technology schedule in my travel book were
then:
— to exercise the dialogic communication proportioned by bakhtinian theory
and the development of the notion of artistic chronotope to the analysis
of cinematic landscape;
— to use iconological interpretation by extending Panofskys theory to filmic
interpretation having into account the recent approaches to Aby Warburgs
congeminations surrounding the compreension of the visual fenomena and
the movement of cultural images in time and space;
— to open up to latourian theory of bodies in affection allowed the perspec-
tivation of space as a material semiotic entity;
— to draw upon the haptic practices of the mutable and embodied subject
proportioned by the filmic experience of authors such as Susan Sobchack
and Giuliana Bruno;
— to exercise practices of situated knowledge endorsed by the contribute
of the work of Donna Haraway;
— to train an approach to the landscape as a concretion of affects and
emotions and to the space as an expressive entity, underlied by deleuziane
theory;
— to experiment a type of writing which have into account the life of signs
so as the direct experience of the objectual world, underlied by derridean
theory.

Transcripts from a travel book


Functioning as a strategy of translation of codified cultural products, my
analytic technology allowed the rereading and the rewriting of landscape as
a system of geographical signs. This enables the possibility of rereading and
rewriting of the geographical sign systems allocating geography as a differential
order of knowledge which is permanently in negotiation and which results from
a diffractive and dialogic relationality. Within this frame, the constitution of
nature as Other is surpassed, and the effects of histories of colonialism, racism,
sexism and class domain that nurtured the tension between nature and culture
are contested.
Travel books and scientific explorations: from body to theory 185

What is at stake is the construction of a new relation between nature and


culture, a relation that fractures a modern relational frame responsible for the
reification, possession, appropriation and nostalgia regarding land and its sources.
This same relation is implicitely codified in imperial geographical sign systems
and in cartographic and topographic languages of inventariation and domain.
My effort of positionality as a subject in formation is then linked to the
collective construction of landscapes of co-inhabitation and difference.
More then succumbing to the demolishing idea of substitution of the somehow
factual space to a virtual space, in a period deeply marked by war and techno-
science, or more than simply transpheering social events from physical to
screen environments, (which would be more a caprice of a bipolar and reflective
rationality), I am engaged with the task of understanding landscape experience
as an experience of radical alterity.
The rupture of the traditional dichotomy that puts at distance subject and
object, as a relational frame that underlies modern geographical thought and
practice, begins with the challenge of understanding space as a material semiotic
entity. The indagation of cognitive and linguistic skills that conventionally define
landscape as an object (of knowledge or desire) is then connected to the emer-
gence of levels of a constitutive mutual affectation responsible by the reciprocal
shaping of subject and object (Whatmore, 2002).
The consideration of the problem of landscape having into account space as
a material and semiotic entity, is the turn of the screw. In this context, landscape
is not understood as a purely human construction erased under the idea of a pre-
human universal nature, but as a concretion of inferences whose material and
semiotic character challenges any aesthetic reading based in a fundamental
division between subject and object.
The way stable meanings are constructed by a vast set of actants (human
and non-human) as a means of forging countless paterns of inferences, is then
the focus of attention, and this as means of reaching the process of revision of
the landscape experience itselve. Gilles Deleuze meditations about the affection-
image helps us to clarify this point;
“it is not the rain, nor the concept of rain or of a state of weather or rainy
place, (…) It is rain as affect” (Deleuze, 2002:109).

The multiplicity of spaces generated by the movement of association discarded


throughout the reception of each film, drags us to an image-afection, as a type
of image and as a component of all images.
As part of intensive series of affects that mark a critical instancy of being,
the image-afection precipitates on the screen the character of space as a
receptive imobil surface where geographical sign systems are articulated by
186 Ana Francisca de Azevedo

forcing a situated aesthetic experience. But, this inframed surface of inscription,


where the fantasies of a reflected mesmerity are discharged, is concomitantely
a diffractive entity because unveiles series of micro-movements capted in an
immobilized surface of observation. The immobilization of a body in movement
submitted to representation is turned then into the motor of the expressive
action itselve, through the concretion in the image of its unshakable unity and
of intensive expressive movements which constitute the affect. Such an immo-
bilization act is turned concret during the filmic experience through the
landscape shot.
Expressing the movement of the rest of the ‘body’, a body-land, this part
sacrified to the act of immobilization is the ‘facialization’ of a set that at the
same time looks upon us, as image-afection. Viewed as image-afection, land-
scape shot is the result of a facialization of space where affect emerges through
the expression of micro-movements emprisioned and subjected to association.
The attempt of capturing the minimum movement in the maximum of a unity
obtained in an image that reflects and is reflected but that, because of the way
it looks us, forces a subsequent movement of diffraction, is turned into a process
of reciprocal questioning organized through the immobilized body in relation with
that ‘face’ that rescues us in its expressive micro-movements of indagation. As
the answer to the act of inference of intensive series of affects emerging by the
effect of facialization, this process of questioning allows the passage from one
quality to the other of the body in expression. The participation in the organic
life of things as pole of communication, is given through the consideration of
complex shots that function as concretions of the ‘power-quality’ of space for
the expression of affects.
Connected to the conquer by cinema of a new system of perception, but
also of affection, the ambiguous and contradictory work of the complex shots,
allows the entrance in a system of emotions that, in Delleuzes terms, is able of
inducing non-human affects. In this sense, the attempt of understanding space
as genetic element of image-afection is connected to the attempt of under-
standing the systems of perception and affection conquered by cinema; one
whose composition is merely bipolar and another diferential and genetic
(Deleuze, 2002). The power and quality of cinematic landscape are obtained from
this point, where the relation between complex shots organizes a spatial
singularity not reducible to any abstraction.
The discussion of landscape as an experience of contemplation of an object
by a transcendental subject gives place, then, to an experience of mutual par-
ticipation in the generative act of making meaning that occurs through the effect
of reciprocal affectation of bodies.
Travel books and scientific explorations: from body to theory 187

Bibliography
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e Confluências, 3, p. 721.
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narrativa espacial’. Comunicação apresentada nas IV Jornadas de Geografia e Planea-
mento. Guimarães: Universidade do Minho.
Azevedo, A. F. (2004b). ‘Representação de espaço e paisagem no cinema de Manoel de
Oliveira’. Comunicação apresentada nas Actas do V Congresso da Geografia Portu-
guesa. Guimarães: Universidade do Minho.
Azevedo, A. F. (2005a). ‘A ideia de paisagem: pré-figurações geográficas de uma experiên-
cia estética da modernidade’. Actas do X Colóquio Ibérico da Geografia — A Geografia
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dade de Évora.
Azevedo, A. F. (2005b). ‘Silencing the land: Portuguese cinema of the silent period’. Actas
of IGU Commission: The Cultural Approach in Geography — Geographies and the
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coord., Ensaios de Geografia Cultural, p. 5980. Porto e Lisboa: Figueirinhas.
Azevedo, A.F. (2008). A Ideia de Paisagem. Porto e Lisboa: Figueirinhas.
Bruno, G. (2002). Atlas of Emotion. Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film. New York:
Verso.
Deleuze, G e F. Guattari (1988). A Thousand Plateaus: capitalism and schizofrenia. London:
Athlone.
Deleuze, G. (2002). Cinema. 1 — The Movement Image. London: The Athlone Press.
Derrida, J. (1993). Aporias. Stanford: University Press Stanford.
Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. New York:
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Publications.
Paradise, plenitude, savagery, and sin: traveller’s
tales of Amazonia, 16th century to the present

ANNA T. BROWNE RIBEIRO


University of California, Berkeley

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


Introduction
Travel writing and colonial practices. This paper examines, from an an-
thropological perspective, the way travel narratives have shaped the scientific
study and public presentation of Amazonia. I consider Amazonia as a locus of
European colonization, or a place (city, drainage basin, country, climatic region,
or continent) that was encountered for the first time by Europeans as part of a
completely new, unprecedented experience — what was called, in their language,
“discovery”. The genre of travel writing is taken to include literature produced
by any person who travelled to Amazonia from the moment of European contact
to the present, regardless of training, affiliations, or goals. The aim of this paper
is to tease apart the kinds of images that emerge from these narratives, and to
begin to understand how these helped shape, and were shaped by, intellectual
movements in Europe.
Utilizing primary sources such as journals, letters, and ethnohistoric
accounts, as well as formalized texts constructed within disciplinary fields such
as natural history, archaeology, history, and journalism, I trace tropes in European
representations of Amazonia over the course of the last five centuries. Of par-
ticular interest is the way the notion of civilization, along with related concepts
elaborated in the 17th and 18th centuries in connection with the Enlightenment,
transformed the perspectives and motives of travellers to Amazonia. I argue that
travel narratives were instrumental in the elaboration of the discourse of
civilization, which was central to early anthropological study.
Narratives, images, and representations. Representational materials
produced during travel are simultaneously the manner in which writers record
their experiences, the mode through which scientific and popular discourses are
expressed, and the means by which non-travellers1 come to know foreign places.
Such representations come in the form of travel writings, paintings, engravings,
photographs, and other decontextualized objects. These representations become

1 “Non-traveller” is meant in a relative, not absolute, sense. Regardless of whether a person


travels, for the purposes of this analysis she is considered a “non-traveller” in relation to any
single place she has not visited.
192 Anna T. Browne Ribeiro

incorporated into grand narratives2, stories that sequentially relate events, and
which may come to constitute histories of particular places. Grand narratives
also transmit concepts about places, if ‘place’ is considered as a locale that is
lived-in, experienced, and is understood as historically contingent3. In so far as
places demand a participant in order to hold meaning, places and people are co-
constitutive.
Returning from Amazonia, early travellers described places, remote and
exotic, that became fixed in the Western imaginary as wild, pristine, and above
all, alien to Western culture, values, and knowledge. The present study explores
how Europeans’ initial encounters with the Amazon as a place have contributed
to modern conceptions of the Amazon as static, homogenous, exotic, and
untamed, and how this discourse has featured in the construction of three
Amazonian places: the bountiful and exuberant forest; the fierce, untamed
jungle; and the beautiful and exotic paradise.

Images of the Amazon


Accidental tourists and land prospectors. Friar Gaspar de Carvajal witnessed
and recorded the first descent of the Amazon River by Europeans. The voyage,
led by Francisco de Orellana in 1539-41, was an offshoot of Francisco Pizarro’s
voyage to the fabled “Land of Cinnamon” (Medina). Carvajal carefully reports
on the degree of habitation of the places he passes, recording visible architecture
and agricultural fields. The friar pays special attention to the presence of roads,
plazas, fortifications, and enclosures. The fact that these same architectural
features signify civilization to anthropologists centuries later shows the deep
roots of such ideals in the European imaginary. Notably, the words “civilized”
and “savage” do not appear in this narrative, but rather, the inhabitants are
referred to as “Indians” throughout, except for when the author refers to them
by a name that can be attributed to a tribe or nation.
The account by Father Cristoval de Acuña (Markham), of Commander Pedro
Texeira’s return voyage from Quito to Gran Para in 1639, offers an interesting

2 Grand narratives can be distinguished from local or particularistic narratives, which address
problems referring to specific times and places without reference to general models, and can
be presented as instances of general rules.
3 This conception of ‘place’ has been inspired by the reading of a number of humanistic geogra-
phers: Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), D. Parkes and Nigel
Thrift, "Putting Time in Its Place," In Making Sense of Time, eds. T. Carlstein, D. Parkes and
Nigel Thrift (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978), Alan Pred, Making Histories and Constructing
Human Geographies (Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, Inc., 1990), Edward Relph, Place and
Placelessness (London: Pion, 1976).
Paradise, plenitude, savagery, and sin: traveller’s tales of Amazonia, 16th century to the present 193

counterpoint to Carvajal’s narrative. Possibly due to the drastically different


circumstances of their respective descents of the river4 and the century that
separates their voyages, the two missionaries’ accounts differ along certain lines.
Not only are there marked differences in presentation — Acuña’s account is
thematic and encyclopedic, while Carvajal’s is sequential — but also in explicit-
ness of purpose. Acuña examines the land the way a landscape architect surveys
a property to be developed. Carvajal notes the earth’s fertility and general
abundance of resources (Medina 209, 217-218, 223), but Acuña goes as far as to
suggest crops for particular districts and to enumerate Amazonian products to
be exploited in commerce (Markham 98, 110). Notably, he compares Amazonian
riches with those of the already systematically exploited region of Peru.
Carvajal’s opinion of Amazonians varies from moment to moment in accor-
dance with the degree of peril he perceives or is in the midst of experiencing,
(Medina 188, 192, 206, 223), but his reports on the character of the people he
encounters are generally favourable, especially with respect to skill. In contrast,
Acuña consistently cast the peoples he encountered on his voyage in one of two
images. In generalized accounts, they are portrayed as lost sheep, who “lie in
the shadow of death,” (Markham 60) and whose existence is perpetuated solely
through the clemency of the Christian god, rather than through their own actions
and abilities. In this representation, the priest portrays Amazonia as a version of
Paradise, and its inhabitants as children in need of salvation. The complement
to this image is that of the savage, warlike heathens and barbarians, which often
appears in Acuña’s reference to particular tribes. Both innocent and savage, the
Amazonian Paradise is also a kind of hell.
The gentleman-scientist. Introducing a new stage in knowledge production
about the Amazon, Enlightenment-period naturalist Charles Marie de La Conda-
mine descended the Amazon in 1743. La Condamine classifies native peoples of
Peru by the type of landscape they inhabit: those living in cities were Indians;
villagers were dwellers; but those who lived deep in the forest were referred to
as savages (44). Ingrained notions of civilization and savagery compelled the
scientist to define people through places. Passing references to cannibal tribes
and ubiquitous warfare in the Amazon (La Condamine) recall the writings of
Thomas Hobbes (85), who almost a century before La Condamine’s voyage cited

4 Whether Orellana’s expedition downriver constituted desertion, as Garcilasso Inca de la Vega


(Markham) reported, or whether it was undertaken by necessity, as recorded by eyewitness
Friar Gaspar de Carvajal (Medina), is still debated. Acuña descended the river of the Amazons
as scribe, ordered by the Spanish crown to turn Texeira’s return to Gran Para into a reconnais-
sance mission.
194 Anna T. Browne Ribeiro

America as a place in which a state of war could be observed. In the very act of
defining man’s state of nature as condition of constant war, Hobbes constructs
Amazonia as a savage place.
La Condamine’s journey is a scientific venture, but his descent of the river
is in part motivated by mythical appeal. The scientist’s pursuit of the myth of El
Dorado betrays his commercial interest in the land, as does his keen eye for
Amazonia’s natural resources. The land’s fertility, floral and faunal diversity, and
the presence of semi-precious stone make this fierce jungle a land of plenty, a
place that must be subdued so that its riches can be reaped.
Scientific study of the Amazon matured in the 18th and early 19th Centuries,
through the work of naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt and Carl
Friedrich Phillip von Martius. In the absence of historical texts, and with archaeo-
logical investigations still far in the future, Amazonia’s past could only be studied
within the context of its present. Working at the mouth of the Casiquiari in the
Guianas, Humboldt recorded the course of the river, the nature of flora and
fauna, and the practices and material culture of indigenous peoples (Barreto and
Machado; Hemming). The first to consider the origins of Amazonian peoples,
Humboldt postulated the existence of a primitive race that might have descended
from Asia (Barreto and Machado).
Von Martius composed what can be termed the first evolutionist narrative
of Amazonian origins (Barreto and Machado). Von Martius’ ethnographic work
correlated linguistic and socio-cultural data from across the Brazilian Amazon to
arrive at a model of great antiquity for the occupation of South America. Relying
on Humboldt’s one-race theory, von Martius proposed that South American groups
devolved from an ancient high culture, evidenced by Andean ruins, and possible
undiscovered lowland ruins (Barreto and Machado). Von Martius and Humboldt
were the first to propose that Amazonia had a deep history, and thus for both,
Amazonia was a complex and dynamic place.

Enter the Archaeologist. Both the idea of cultural devolution and that
of foreign introduction of cultural aspects were picked up by archaeologist Betty
J. Meggers in the 20th Century. Meggers explained the presence of materials
indicative of high culture in Amazonian archaeological remains through theories
of diffusion from other regions or continents. The lack of such attributes in
ethnographic data was explained by devolution (Meggers "A Pre-Columbian
Colonization of the Amazon"; Meggers Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit
Paradise; Meggers "Judging the Future by the Past: The Impact of Environmental
Instability on Amazonian Populations"; Meggers "The Continuing Quest for
El-Dorado: Round Two"). By attributing evidence of social complexity to foreign,
long-lost cultures, Meggers was able to claim that contemporary Amazonian tribes
Paradise, plenitude, savagery, and sin: traveller’s tales of Amazonia, 16th century to the present 195

and modes of living accurately represented the autochthonous Amazonian past,


and further that the Amazon was a prohibitively harsh environment, which caused
the downfall of complex societies. For Meggers, dynamism in Amazonian history
was due to foreign factors, and Amazonia itself, static and homogenous, stifled
development and eroded culture.
Meggers’ first statement of this model ("Environmental Limitation on the
Development of Culture") was subsequently challenged by a number of archae-
ologists, most of whom continued to work within a paradigm of environmental
determinism or possibilism (Carneiro "Subsistence and Social Structure: An
Ecological Study of the Kuikuru Indians"; Carneiro "Slash-and-Burn Cultivation
among the Kuikuru and Its Implications for Cultural Development in the Amazon
Basin"; Carneiro "The Cultivation of Manioc among the Kuikuru Indians of the
Upper Xingu"; Gross "Protein Capture and Cultural Development in the Amazon
Basin"; Gross "Village Movement in Relation to Resources in Amazonia."; Roosevelt
Parmana: Prehistoric Maize and Manioc Subsistence Along the Amazon and
Orinoco; Roosevelt "Chiefdoms in the Amazon and Orinoco"; Roosevelt
Moundbuilders of the Amazon: Geophysical Archaeology on Marajó Island, Brazil;
Roosevelt Amazonian Indians from Prehistory to the Present: Anthropological
Perspectives). By subjecting Amazonian cultures to environmental constraints,
anthropologists and archaeologists anchored the range of possibility of cultural
diversity to knowledge of environmental variability through time and space. The
implication for public presentations of Amazonia is that environmental knowledge
took the place of cultural data, relegating Amazonian peoples to the background,
to be conceived of as part of landscapes that were pristine, savage, and exotic.

General trajectories
Of noble savages and pristine parklands. The attitudes of Carvajal and
Acuña echo Marshall Sahlins’ survey of European missionaries’ conceptions of
Native Hawaiians, ca. 1820-40, as either “heathens” to be saved, or “stupid
heathens” to be civilized (6). This distinction is somewhat analogous to the that
between Rousseau’s noble savages, who exist in an innocent state of nature, and
Hobbes’ savages, whose brutish lives consist of war. These seemingly contra-
dictory conceptions share a common point of departure: that Indigenous peoples,
considered uncivilized before European ideals, were ruled by, and a part of,
nature.
The idea that indigenous peoples’ impact on environments is negligible is
ubiquitous in European thought (Locke; Rousseau; see also Mann). This notion,
expressed by Acuña in his desire to tame the Amazon, was already embedded in
European thought by the time of Locke’s discourse on property, written ca. 1681,
196 Anna T. Browne Ribeiro

which sets down criteria by which land can be said to be one’s property: “as
much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the products
of, so much is his property” (Locke 276). The examples used to contrast this
civilized act of tillage include gathering acorns and shooting deer, food
procurement strategies associated in the text with the “Indian” (Locke 275).
This early instantiation of the concept of mastery over nature, phrased in
Locke’s treatise as the duty to “subdue the earth,” became the touchstone
of European evaluation of Indigenous effect on, and possession of, land (Mann;
Williams). Notably, this dichotomy suggested by Locke is reminiscent of the
anthropological categories of hunter-gatherer and agriculturalist, which in the
time of V. Gordon Childe (What Happened in History; Man Makes Himself) were
associated with “savagery” and “civilization”, respectively. When Childe wrote
his thesis on the beginnings of civilization, hunter-gatherers were considered
savages, who passively extracted products from natural environments.
Agriculturalists, on the other hand, were seen as peoples who had found ways to
control nature. Although explicit philosophical or theoretical links between
agriculture and civilization were never made, dominant anthropological tropes
that explained civilization as the result of an evolutionary progression from
savagery (dependence on the environment), through barbarism (some environ-
mental control), and to civilization (total environmental control) effectively
cemented this relationship. The idea of control over nature as a necessary quality
of civilization, indeed, of civilization as the rejection of nature, has been so
fundamental in anthropological thought that it has been invoked as recently as
the 1970s (Levi-Strauss). The terms savage and civilized were eventually replaced
by simple and complex, but the basic dichotomy remains in use today.
Notions of the Amazon as pristine parkland have come under fire in the
last two decades, particularly through the efforts of geographers and archaeolo-
gists working in the region. Erickson and Balée (Balée; Balée and Erickson;
Erickson "Lomas De Ocupación En Los Llanos De Moxos"; Erickson "The Domesticated
Landscape of the Bolivian Amazon") have determined that certain parts of Bolivia
consists of landscapes almost entirely constructed by human hands. Heckenberger
("Manioc Agriculture and Sedentism in Amazonia: The Upper Xingu Example"; "Of
Lost Civilizations and Primitive Tribes, Amazonia: Reply to Meggers"; The Ecology
of Power: Culture, Place, and Personhood in the Southern Amazon, A. D. 1000-
2000) and Neves ("Twenty Years of Amazonian Archaeology in Brazil (1977-1997)";
"Changing Perspectives in Amazonian Archaeology"; "Duas Interpretações Para
Explicar a Ocupação Pré-Histórica Na Amazônia") working in the Upper Xingu and
Central Amazon, respectively, have discovered monumental earthworks, plazas,
and ditches that reveal that much of what is seen today is likely secondary cover,
not primary forest as had been thought for decades. Furthermore, such earthworks
Paradise, plenitude, savagery, and sin: traveller’s tales of Amazonia, 16th century to the present 197

represent material evidence of conscious and dramatic landscape modification


of Amazonian landscapes in pre-Columbian times. Denevan (Cultivated
Landscapes of Native Amazonia and the Andes; "The Native Population of
Amazonia in 1492 Reconsidered"; "Semi-Intensive Pre-European Cultivation and
the Origins of Anthropogenic Dark Earths in Amazônia"; Denevan et al.) has
suggested that the vast majority of the Amazonian landscape first encountered
by Europeans in the late 15th Century, and still visible today, was significantly
modified by Amazonians before the arrival of Europeans.
Places in the Amazon. The image of the Amazon as a static and homogenous
landscape is thus being displaced by a more nuanced understanding of its natural
variability and its anthropogenic qualities. Recent work in the Central Amazon
(Neves Levantamento Arqueológico Da Área De Confluência Dos Rios Negro
E Solimões, Estado Do Amazonas: Continuidade Das Escavações, Análise Da
Composição Química E Montagem De Um Sistema De Informações Geográficas;
Neves and Petersen; Neves et al.) and in the Xingu Basin (Heckenberger "Manioc
Agriculture and Sedentism in Amazonia: The Upper Xingu Example"; Heckenberger
The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place, and Personhood in the Southern Amazon,
A. D. 1000-2000; Heckenberger, Peterson and Neves) is seeking to map out par-
ticular histories in particular places, with reference to political processes, social
practices, and placemaking by indigenous peoples. Further, it is becoming clear
that early European reports of population sizes and densities, and of modified
landscapes are more accurate than previously thought. These facts alone suggest
that it is worth re-visiting travel narratives from the pre-Enlightenment period,
as much for general impressions of European conceptions of Amazonian peoples,
as for descriptions of particular places.
Barreto and Machado make the excellent point that travel writings can serve
as vehicles for unpacking the history of scientific study of the Amazon. Further,
because these European traditions of science and knowledge creation produced
verbal and visual representations of their findings, the historiography of Amazonian
exploration can also be read as a history of representation. Acuña and Carvajal
are amazed at the sheer size of settlement encountered in the Amazon, referring
to them as belonging to great civilizations. La Condamine cites the extent and
complexity of linguistic systems in the Amazon as evidence for the antiquity of
Amazonian occupation. Similar claims were made by Humboldt and Von Martius,
scholars who were following in similar philosophical traditions.
Departing from a different set of assumptions, Sir Walter Raleigh suggested
that the entire Amazons had been subdued by the great empire of the Incas.
Although Raleigh's reasons for believing this are unclear, it is noteworthy that a
very similar claim for Andean domination of the Amazon basin appears in the
works of Betty Meggers ("A Pre-Columbia Colonization of the Amazon"; Amazonia:
198 Anna T. Browne Ribeiro

Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise; "Advances in Brazilian Archaeology,


1935-1985"; "Judging the Future by the Past: The Impact of Environmental
Instability on Amazonian Populations"; Meggers "The Continuing Quest for
El-Dorado: Round Two") three and a half centuries later. Meggers’ innovation on
Raleigh's thesis is that the Amazon, as a place, was so impoverished, that it
served as a site of cultural devolution. Regardless of the accuracy of Meggers’
presentation of ecological factors in the Amazon, her bold theories resulted in
an entire generation of debates surrounding Amazonia’s past.
Close examination of the history of scientific study of the Amazon, in
conjunction with close readings of travel texts can also lead to new directions of
research. If indigenous peoples of Amazonia were as numerous and as adept at
transforming the landscape as some reports indicate, then the dichotomies of
civilization/savagery and of simple/complex must be called into question. Careful
analysis of travel writings that involve contextual critiques can help tease apart
reliable truth claims from more tendentious ones. By interweaving ethnohistoric
and literary evidence with local, indigenous, and archaeological knowledge,
Amazonia can be known, not as a wide, undifferentiated, homogenous space,
but as a series of meaningfully distinct places connected by memory and history.

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———. "The Native Population of Amazonia in 1492 Reconsidered." Revista De Indias 62.227
(2003): 175-88.
———. "Semi-Intensive Pre-European Cultivation and the Origins of Anthropogenic Dark
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———. "Lomas De Ocupación En Los Llanos De Moxos." Arqueología De Tierras Bajas. Eds.
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———. "Village Movement in Relation to Resources in Amazonia." Adaptive Responses of
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———. "The Continuing Quest for El-Dorado: Round Two." Latin American Antiquity 12.3
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———. "Environmental Limitation on the Development of Culture." American Anthropologist
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———. "Judging the Future by the Past: The Impact of Environmental Instability on
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———. Levantamento Arqueológico Da Área De Confluência Dos Rios Negro E Solimões,
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The discourse of high-tech tourists and the change
of perceptual paradigm in travel writing

ANNA MAJ
University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


T
he relationship between tourists and anthropologists understood as
discourse constructors, and the media they use for it, should be examined
more carefully. Both tourists and field anthropologists use traditional and
new media enabling them to create particular types of narrations and visualisa-
tions and demanding specific behaviors. This is characteristic both of traditional
media such as photography or film and of new digital media. Traditional media
resulted in the appearance of dominant visual paradigm which preferred colonial
perspective and the same kind of culture interpretation.
The fundamental role of the anthropology in intercultural reflection cannot
be forgotten. Although today some elements of its heritage can be seen as orien-
talist or colonialist for the people of the time it was often extremely democratic
and sometimes revolutionary. This concerns especially the idea of “participant
observer” and of anthropology itself, that is the idea of putting the tent in the
centre of the Others’ village. Nowadays the postmodern anthropologists search
for possibilities to deconstruct the myth of “fathers of anthropology”, treating
the discipline as “the art of writing” or travel writing.1 Postcolonial and politically
correct anthropology is now looking for new ideas and methods of observation
and description of the culture of the Others. But radical relativists regard “fair
anthropology” as impossible.
However, this impasse evolved into the pluralism of scientific approaches
which opened the discipline for the use of new technologies in order to find new
methodologies. New media provoke the change of perceptual paradigm and
traveling modes. This new paradigm affects the discourse of tourists and other
travellers as well. Contemporary tourists via the Internet create travel narrations
using new technologies and multimedia. The most popular types of new tourist
writing are blogs, moblogs and GPS logs. The elements characteristic of this new
perceptual paradigm and of new narrations by “high-tech tourists” are: the use

1 Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (A School of American Research
Advanced Seminar). Ed. J. Clifford, G.E. Marcus. University of California Press. Berkeley, Los
Angeles, London 1986; J. Clifford: The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography,
Literature, and Art. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA 1988.
206 Anna Maj

of Web 2.0 trend and the methods of communications such as social bookmarking,
social tagging or grassroots journalism.
Today Internet has become the reason why people travel. While for some
globetrotters the possibility of writing a blog or creating their own website and
online gallery is only a travelling aid, a substitute for telephone conversations
with the family, for others it becomes the whole point and aim of the trip. This
other group can be described as high-tech travellers’ due to the high degree of
mediatisation of that sort of travel. The Internet reflects the state of travelling
consciousness characteristic of the contemporary tourist-generating societies.
They have easier access to new technologies than most host societies receiving
guests. The division of the world delineated above can also be seen very clearly
in the many travel blogs, frequently created in the very places where connecting
to the Internet requires some effort and research, or is sometimes simply impossi-
ble, delaying communication.2 Typically, backpackers’ dreams are paradoxical:
they would like to travel through countries that are at the same time wild and
fully connected to the Net. No Internet access and no possibility of presenting
information in a blog, sending pictures or writing a note to the website often
becomes a reason to worry for the sender and recipients involved, it becomes
synonymous with not being able to communicate. Some interesting remarks on
the subject, in the context of the tsunami in Thailand, are to be found, for instance,
in Alex's Travel Blog.3 “Silence” makes readers worry about the bloggers fate.
It is to be noted, however, that problems with communication form a part of the
paradigm of backpacking with a laptop, making it dynamic and adventurous.4
It is also one of the important topics of the stories communicated from afar.
By using the laptop, blogging travellers create the discourse of an uneven devel-
opment of the world in the era of globalisation. Its media appeal is very low and
so it is virtually absent from mass media as such.

2 This problem is highlighted, by, among others, Christina Valhouli in her article on travel blogs
that accompanies their ranking in “Forbes Magazine”. C. Valhouli: Travel Feature. Best Travel
Blogs. “Forbes Magazine” 10.02.2003. URL: http://www.forbep.com/2003/10/02/cx_cv_ 1002
blog.html.
3 Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. W: Alex's Travel Blog. URL: http://www.alexasigno.co.uk.
4 See posts in blogs such as: Hypertext Journal (the first travel blog). URL: http://www.
somewhere.org.uk/hypertext/journal/proj.info/index.html;
Hobo Traveller. URL: http://www. hobotraveller.com/blogger.html;
Four on Tour. URL: http://geocitiep.com/fourontour/;
Ed's Gone South. URL: http://www.edsgonesouth.com/blog/;
Global Walk for Breast Cancer. URL: http://www. globalwalk.org;
V-A-G-A-B-O-N-D-I-N-G. URL: http://www.vagabonding.com.
The discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 207

Backpackers are a group of travellers that make the best use of the Internet.
It becomes their basic source of information, a means of communication as well
as the main medium of describing their travel. However, destinations popular
with Western travellers quickly generate new shopping centres in the form of
shops and stalls with a local colour, or even entertainment districts and cheap
hotels, cybercafés, small restaurants and tourist attractions (different, however,
from those aimed at organised tourist groups).5 Outside these districts there are
no high-tech travellers, there is no reason why they should visit places where
“there is nothing”.6 The “nothing” refers, among others, to no Internet access,
Internet being for backpackers the main means of communication as well as a
form of presenting their journey while it is still going on. “Internet equals
civilisation”, this slogan could well become the motto of modern-day travellers,
who feel they must relate the freshly acquired tourist and mystical experiences
in their own blog, or else they will lose some of their value.
“Backpacking with a laptop” theme is very popular on the Thorn Tree Forum,
the main contact point for backpackers from all over the world. It was founded
as an element of the website of Lonely Planet and it brings together the world
backpacker community.7 There are nearly two thousand posts to be found there
related to problems with a laptop while travelling as well as responsibilities
associated with that sort of travelling. The prevailing topics are of a special type,
e.g. visits to cybercafés, equipment tips, dangers connected with carrying around
expensive equipment, methods of preventing any loss of the gear, travel
difficulties linked to the need to carry the laptop, spare memory carriers and
equipment to produce multimedia. Backpackers form a varied group — from
accidental low-budget long-distance travellers to nomadic website designers,
bringing to life ideals of post-geographical mobility.
A laptop is a great travelling companion if you can tolerate the extra
weight & potential theft. Peregrine. Posted: 31
March 2006 6:48 am.
I think carrying a laptop on a backpacker trip would be a load of bricks
that would tie you down and keep you watching for potential theft.

5 M. Cegielski: Niebia ńska pla a, bananowe placki i z odzieje mocy. Travellersi (Heavenly Beach,
Banana Pancakes and Power Thieves. Travellers.) “Du ży Format” — a supplement to “Gazeta
Wyborcza”. 28 September 2003, p. 28-32.
6 Cegielski points to Lonely Planet publishing house as the main “culprit” of the state of affairs.
He writes, among other things: “Lonely Planet finished off Asia […] Undoubtedly, it transformed
hippie paths into «tourist highway»”. Ibid., p. 29-30.
7 Thorn Tree Forum. Lonely Planet. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
208 Anna Maj

Anonimo. Posted: 1 April 2006 3:58 am.


I have been traveling with a laptop. Two long backpacking trips with a
four pound notebook. Love it and hate it.
BobTrips. Posted: 1 April 2006 7:36 am.8

Attention should be paid to several factors. Laptop is here qualified as an


element of your travel experience that you both love and hate. While being your
best friend, it is also the worst of enemies. It helps you to stay in touch, search
information, publish and share your travel experiences, work on the Net, store
and organize any data gathered while travelling, or, in more mundane terms, it
allows you simply to both work and be mobile, both be at work and on holiday
(in accordance with backpackers ideology of the seven-day weekend). At the
same time it is a piece of equipment that forever gets in the way, that is heavy
and conspicuous, disturbs your activities, reminds you of your responsibilities or
simply turns your trip into paranoid looking out for thieves among local residents,
or, which is worse, among other travellers and backpackers. This would prove a
certain regression of solidarity among travellers, which traditionally helped to
make friends while travelling, based on similar life circumstances.
Do you really need a computer with you at all??? Not too many places have
a security box large enough to put a computer in. If you are staying in
cheap hostels you will probably always be keeping the laptop with you
when you leave. Remember it's not only the hotel staff that may rip you
off, your fellow backpacker may be the most likely thief! […] Unless you
actually need a computer for real "work" why drag it along, especially if
all you intend to do is use it for emails? Tevyvan. Posted: 24 June 2007,
6:46 am.9

And so the computer moves you away from sensations that have always been
fundamental to the experience of travelling. Many backpackers advise on the
forum not to tell anyone about the equipment you are carrying, rent your own
room and take the laptop out only when the door is locked so that nobody can
see it. By doing so, the traveller puts up a barrier against the outside world (the
one that they have come there to see), because of their mission to inform the
world (the one that they have left behind) about what is going on outside (where
they are not, as they have just put up a barrier against it). This type of travelling
can be called “diary writing in an exotic setting”. It is worth noting that most

8 The thread Backpacking with a Laptop, In: The Thorn Tree, Travel Forum part of the Lonely
Planet website. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
9 The thread 'Bomb Proof' protection for laptop when travelling. In: The Thorn Tree, Travel
Forum on the Lonely Planet. website. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
The discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 209

blogs carefully conceal the act of writing and the fact that the traveller spends
many hours in cybercafés and locked rooms. Contemporary people seem to find
it increasingly difficult not so much to move away from home, as to move away
from semiosphere and iconosphere, which are a part of everyday life in the
globalised world. The trip itself is not a problem. It is tearing your thoughts away
from home that is difficult. Paradoxically, for those who travel the Net it does
not stand for the world but more for the home. The Internet is becoming a new
electronic environmental bubble.10 It allows to maintain a certain continuity
between everyday life and living on the go. This could prove an advantage as
well as a disadvantage.
The most common problem is finding an answer to the fundamental travelling
question: “Bring the Laptop? Or not?” (which can be seen as a modern-day
paraphrase of Hamlet’s dilemma).11 Both radically pro-technology and anti-
technology attitudes can be observed on The Thorn Tree Forum, but it is positive
opinions on travelling with media that prevail. Further doubts arise as to whether
to take laptop along, especially if the trip is going to be long, possibly un-
comfortable and dangerous or involve activities that may have a disastrous effect
on the condition of the equipment (natural factors such as dust, humidity, frost
or high temperature; factors linked to the traveller’s activity: rafting, trekking,
sailing, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, mountaineering, etc.). The
problem high-tech travellers face is how to reconcile a wide range of activities
with the desire to record their experience by means of new media. In fact the
question is: “Is it better to travel without limits, but have no means to describe
it, or is it better not to be able to travel everywhere you wish but be able to
recount your adventures without limits?”
Most people I know who own laptops don't travel with them. The reasons
cited: risk of theft, extra space, and just a need to get away from technol-
ogy. Of course, I heard all the same arguments about digital cameras,
electronic dictionaries, PDAs, and mp3 players, and most of the people
who refuse to travel with laptops carry all that gear. Endless_Summer.
Posted: 06 April 2005 00:10 pm.12
Leave the technology at home and travel live in your surroundings. If
necessary, take a few notes and then visit a cybercafe every now and

10 D. Boorstin: The Image. A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. Harper, New York 1964.
11 The thread Bring the Laptop? Or not? In: The Thorn Tree, Travel Forum on the Lonely Planet
website URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
12 The thread Trekking with a Laptop II. W: The Thorn Tree, Travel Forum on the Lonely Planet
website. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
210 Anna Maj

then. But live in your surroundings. Duantang. Posted: 15 November 2004


9:29 pm.13

The reasons why people decide to take such equipment with them while they
travel are interesting too. Sometimes it is just the habit of reading one’s e-mails
and search the Net on a daily basis. More often, however, it is the desire for self-
expression together with the refusal to suffer a documentary defeat (e.g. the
necessity to see large zooms of your own photos and verify their technical
quality). Being so far-sighted gives one a chance to come back to the given place
and retake some of the photos. It can be seen as a process of professionalising
bloggers’ attitudes towards photography and other content. It can also be seen
as a form of grassroots journalism or citizen journalism, which are an important
element in the development of the information society. This type of journalism
is not usually engaged in by professional journalists or “full-time” travellers,
more typically it is “amateur” (in the sense of positive dilettantism), individual,
unorganised and fully independent social journalism or personal travel publishing.
This grassroots journalism is one of most fundamental phenomena associated
with Web 2.0.
Some of us shoot a hundred or hundreds of photos per day. We need some
way to store our files other than buying thousands of dollars worth of
memory cards or looking for a place to burn CDs every day. And some of
us are quite involved with our photography. We really want to see what
we are getting, not wait until we're home weeks or months later. And
some of us are writers and need to be able to work in the quiet and
privacy of our rooms. We're looking for the best way to deal with our
needs (addictions, if you will ;o). PDAs work for writing to a degree. But
not for photo editing. PHDs with screens work for storage and viewing but
not for editing or critical viewing. Laptops do the job but they're big and
heavy. So that's what some of us are lugging along. It's not for everyone,
but for some. BobTrips Posted: 05 April 2006 08:07 pm.14

There are blogger-travellers who reduce all their tourist gear to the absolute
minimum in order to be able to take along equipment they use to document their
travels. A radical approach to this problem is presented by Michael Pugh, an
American who travelled through Asia and East Africa for over a year (2002-2003).
Pugh took it all very seriously. Equipped with a good deal of media gear, he sets
out and realises a truly journalistic passion, creating a new media journey in the

13 The thread Taking a Laptop for the Rugged Travel. W: The Thorn Tree, Travel Forum on the
Lonely Planet website. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.
14 The thread Backpacking with a Laptop. W: The Thorn Tree, Travel Forum on the Lonely Planet
website. URL: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com. Own translation, original spelling.
The Discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 211

form of a blog called V-A-G-A-B-O-N-D-I-N-G. The blog has won many prestigious
awards including among others, a “Forbes Magazine” award. With time, it has
become a website containing a rich archive documenting the author’s travels. It
is a multimedia archive, like the travel it recounts. Equipment is a very important
element of this expedition, its importance proven by the fact that it is devoted
a separate section of the website.
Equipment
What equipment do I use to produce Vagabonding.com? What about
software? How do I carry everything? What about security? Why am I
always wearing a blue shirt and grey pants? Read on, curious traveller.15

The blogger cites all the equipment he used to create the travelog. It is a terrify-
ingly long list for a journey summed up in the following motto: “one person, one
year, one world”. It is worth noticing that it was a solitary expedition, without
any external logistical support. There is no need to quote the list in its entirety
and discuss in detail particular items, it is enough to enumerate them to get
an idea of what a new media journey is. The blogger took along a laptop, a
camcorder, a cordless microphone, a camera and camcorder tripod with an extra
head, a digital camera for underwater photography together with extra batteries
and a memory card, external memory, an optical mouse, as well as a set of cables
and adaptors. To protect his equipment Pugh used a laptop cover, a waterproof
camera cover, a protective net with an option to padlock the equipment to a
piece of furniture and a set of waterproof bags. Also, the equipment was insured.
When it comes to software, one should mention professional software packages
to create websites, manage their content, handle a photo gallery, edit video
files, compress video files to formats suitable for the Internet, edit photos and
edit sound.
Apart from all this equipment and software, the high-tech backpackers’
backpack contained a set of things according to the list that will be quoted in its
entirety because of its radicalism. It is to be remembered here that the trip
lasted for over a year:
Clothing
I balance out my big electronics rig with a minimalist clothing kit:
3 collared shirts
1 pair pants
1 swimsuit/shorts
two pair socks
two pair underwear

15 M. Pugh: V-A-G-A-B-O-N-D-I-N-G. About. Equipment. URL: http://www.vagabonding.com/


about/equipment.
212 Anna Maj

one packable rain jacket


one pair shower sandals
one pair hiking shoes
one pair sport sandals
I wash clothes in hotel room sinks every few days. And I wear the same
stuff over and over and over. Which doesn't bother me too much it's not
like I'm in one place long enough for anyone to notice.16

Despite the technological excess luggage Michael Pugh remains a backpacker,


a tourist who is mobile and independent, travelling without luxuries and con-
veniences. He combines technological hedonism with personal luggage ascetism.
And so mediatravel is an act of sacrifice, a polemic with the consumerist lifestyle.
The bloggers’ luggage, despite a sizeable set of new recording and editing media,
weighs twenty five kilograms, which means it is lighter than a bag carried by many
tourists for a week-long trip. This paradoxical travel set serves the author to
create a blog rich in analytical anthropologising texts, expressive reporter-type
photographs as well as sound and film recordings. It is a very modern, multimedia
way of expressing travel experiences, characteristic of the new media perception
paradigm subscribed to by high-tech travellers.
It is to be noted that the travel blog shares with other blogs a certain affinity
of forms, applications and meanings and so it can be seen not only as a kind
of log or diary, but also as a personalized search system which is both public
and private in character.17 In this sense blogging is closely linked to sharing
knowledge, experience and opinions. We can talk here not only about a social
discussion (like Mark Brady does), but about a voluntary social audit of ideas,
inventions, as well as media messages, reported from distant parts of the world.
Bloggers revitalise the myth of a lonely reporter and anthropologist in the field,
trying not only single-handedly to report and interpret the world, but also to
discover the Other and the Other’s culture.
The social aspect of blogs has been noted by many authors, among other,
Inka Koskela and Ilkka Arminen, who analyse moblogs.18 This genre is used by
more and more travellers, for it is the sort of blog that is created by means of
mobile devices, such as a palmtop or a mobile phone equipped with a camera or
a camcorder.

16 Pugh: op. cit.


17 M. Brady: Blogging, personal participation in public knowledge-building on the web. Chimera
Working Paper 2005-02. Colchester 2005, p. 10. URL: www.essex.ac.uk/chimera/ publicationp.
html.
18 I. Koskela, I. Arminen: Attractiveness and Responsiveness of Moblogs. “Observatorio (OBS*)
Journal”, 2007, nr 3, p. 73-91.
The Discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 213

While blog communication on the whole obscures the ideas of private and
public, individual and group and ideas of fact and fiction, the moblog, in
turn, enlarges the idea of the shared instant experience. The very
characteristic of the moblogging is instantaneous, since it provides a place
and possibility to send personal views and flashes of one’s instant moments
in a world around him and share these experiences by communicating with
other people.19

Koskela and Arminen distinguish four types of moblogs in view of two basic
elements, their attractiveness and responsiveness.20 The first of the features is
assessed on the basis of visit statistics (the number of hits, that is, visits to the
page), the other is connected with the statistics of comments following posts
(the number of users’ comments in reaction to posts, that is, blogger’s contribu-
tions). The moblog taxonomy presented by Finnish researchers is an example of
communicative and ethnographic approach. The four types of moblogs described
display functions differing according to the type of interaction they provoke.
The function of the first type of blog is to store data, the second type — to
share, the third type — publish, the fourth type — to communicate.21 A blog that
does not attract readers and so does not generate any sort of commentary, is a
monologue blog, functioning as a sort of archive. A blog giving rise to some sort
of reaction among the blogger’s close ones, and sometimes their commentaries,
is the blog of the second type. Its ability to attract attention of people from
outside is very limited, but a small group using the blog as a means of communi-
cation can have short conversations. The main aim here is to share experiences
and photographs in a small group of friends or family. The third type of moblog
is characterised by a larger audience (watching and reading) but a low level of
audience activity (no or occasional commentary). It performs a function similar
to other types of personal websites supporting self-expression or exhibitionism
— of the contributor. The last type is a blog that is fully dialogue-based, allowing
a large group of interested persons to communicate (it is both attractive and
conducive to discussions). It is this type of blog that the majority of popular blogs
belong to. They generate a community discussing a given subject. This typology
could be applied to other types of blogs. In the case of moblogs, however, the
dynamics of communication is higher, for their mobile character increases
the instantness and triggers emotions or is connected with the blogger’s isolation.

19 Ibid., p. 74-75.
20 Ibid., p. 77.
21 Ibid., p. 77-88.
214 Anna Maj

What is interesting, as well as surprising, is the fact that the Finnish re-
searchers do not discuss the cases where moblogs are used while travelling,
although this communication tool is most suitable in those circumstances. Many
cases of mobile phone put to similar use could be found. It is worth mentioning
here Rod Baber’s moblog The Call of the Mountain reporting on the expedition
to Mount Everest. The author sent to the blog website short notes as well as
photos and sound recordings documenting the process of going to the top. It is
worth noticing the slogan that advertised this project as “the world highest
moblog” as well as the idea of creating the blog in order to break communication
barriers using a mobile telephone (the blog is sponsored by Motorola). What is
also interesting is the climber’s motivation. He wrote: “I’m heading for to the top
of Mount Everest to make a telephone conversation and send a text message from
the highest point in the world”.22 This is an example of a complete subjection
of travelling motivation to technology and means of communication available.
Information sent to the website is scant, it forms a sort of micro-traces. It might
even sound like information waste, signs from the mountaineer’s “high mountain
rubbish heap”.
It is all the more significant in view of the fact that millions of blogs available
on the Net are electronic rubbish, abandoned by its owners. In 2004 editors of
Merriam-Webster found that “blog” is the most commonly searched word in the
website; as a consequence this lexeme was added to the printed version of the
dictionary. However, as early as June 2007 over 200 million authors called them-
selves ex-bloggers, and one blog in four turned out to be a “one-day miracle”.23
Microblogs are a material that can be analysed from the perspective of micro-
logical research. In his sketch concerning the scope of such research, Aleksander
Nawarecki does not exclude waste and incidental forms from the area of interest
of micrology. And so both microblogs and moblogs could make an interesting
reading for a micrologist, researching marginalities, particles and “dissipation of
dispersed information”.24

22 R. Baber: The Call of the Mountain. Moblog. URL: http://moblog.co.uk/view.php?id= 250443.


23 T. Stokes: Dead Blogs. Cyberspace Fillingup with Online,Abandoned Diaries. [In:] “Times Daily”
[online] 2007, 4 June. URL: http://www.timesdaily.com/apps/pbcp.dll/article?AID=/
20070604/NEWS/706040314/-1/BUSINESS01.
See also an answer to this article in one of the most influential blogs: Millions of Dead Blogs
Won't Stop Blogging, 6 June 2007. [In:] Bloggers Blog. URL: http://www.bloggersblog.com/
cgi-bin/bloggersblog.pl?bblog=606071.
24 A. Nawarecki: Mikrologia, genologia, miniatura. (Micrology, genology and miniature) [In:]
Miniatura i mikrologia.(Miniature and micrology) T. 1. Ed. A. Nawarecki. Katowice 2000, p. 16.
The Discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 215

Today it is difficult to imagine travel blogs without using small portable


devices such as telephones or palmtops. Creating a blog, travellers often use
different media and technologies. Tools for bloggers are provided by websites
allowing to send text messages or MMS messages as well as to create moblogs or
microblogs (consisting of very short comunications in the form of text messages).
The above mentioned genres accentuate the mobility potential, they are created
just-in-time. Microblogs are a sort of communication based on the poetics of text
messages that uses textual micronarrations. Popular microblogger websites such
as Twitter and Jaiku, offer a possibility to interact by means of a text message
that is to ensure the continuous flow of information on what one does and where
one is at a given moment. The most important thing is that the communication
should happen around the clock. This idea of interaction provokes an endless
stream of remarks, marginalities, or even banalities. While it is not impossible
to create deep thoughts in the course of microblogging, it is not its aim. Twitter
and Jaiku websites offer more of a three-stage activity, following the pattern:
set up an account, search friends, write where you are and what you do and send
it around. Consequently, micronarrations that are so limited in terms of contents
are of marginal importance, they become footnotes for everyday activities. The
routine takes on some meaning because it is communicated.
More and more often, instead of a text or a commentary, blogs feature a
photo or a video material presenting marginalities of blogosphere participants’
life. Torrents of MMSs become moblogs that symbolically bring closer people who
are distant in terms of geography. They make it possible to follow other people’s
travels and transmit your own. An interesting tool in the tourist context are also
social networking portals, allowing to combine visual media with special location:
websites such as EveryTrail.com or Bliin.com allow to exchange photographs and
travel notes as well as itineraries recorded by means of GPS.25
All the above mentioned Internet-based forms of publishing travelling
content can be seen not only as a sort of multimedia network travelogs, but also
as a narrative genre described by Stanisław Burkot as e-travel’.26 Although travel
blogs, moblogs, microblogs, photoblogs, audioblogs and videoblogs use multi-
media, in the narrative sense they are a continuation of the traditional genre of
travelogue. A continuation which, obviously, has been brought up-to-date and
adjusted to the new medium and media-based perception paradigm of high-tech
travellers.

25 BliinYourLIVE! URL: <http://www.bliin.com>; EveryTrail. URL: <http://www.everytrail. com>.


26 S. Burkot: Polskie podróżopisarstwo romantyczne. (Polish Romantic Travel Writing) Warszawa
1988.
216 Anna Maj

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Hobo Traveller. URL: <http://www.hobotraveller.com/blogger.html>.
The Discourse of high-tech tourists and the change of perceptual paradigm in travel writing 217

Hypertext Journal. URL: <http://www.somewhere.org.uk/hypertext/journal/proj.info/


index.html>.
Alex's Travel Blog. URL: <http://www.alexasigno.co.uk>.
M. Pugh: V-A-G-A-B-O-N-D-I-N-G. URL: <http://www.vagabonding.com>.
R. Baber: The Call of the Mountain. Moblog. URL: <http://moblog.co.uk/view.php?id=
250443>.
Thorn Tree Forum. Lonely Planet. URL: <http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com>.
If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers —
La Courneuve reading Roissy Express as a travelogue

EMILIA LJUNGBERG
Centre for Media, Communication and Journalism, Lund University

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


I
n his book Roissy Express— a Journey Through the Paris Suburbs (Les passagers
du Roissy-Express), François Maspéro travels with the Regional Express
Network from the airport Roissy — Charles de Gaulle toward Paris, with the
ambition of leaving the train at every suburban stop. The journey is explicitly an
attempt to give attention to the unknown lives of those living in the suburban
areas around Paris, in the so called banlieues. However, the journey can also be
described in terms of conventional tourism. Roissy Express has been the object
of much scholarly criticism, which has highlighted many different aspects of it.
In this article I would like to see it as being foremost a travelogue.
In my paper I seek to describe Maspéro’s ambivalent relation to tourism, how
tourism comes to function both as a reassuring context and as a source of parody.
In order to do this I will focus on Maspéro's explanation of why he has chosen to
travel through the suburbs. The French Studies scholar Katherine Gantz argues
that Maspéro’s vacillation between being a professional and an amateur consti-
tutes a central and problematic contradiction in Roissy Express. However, I will
argue that, if seen as an expression of a tourist discourse, this conflict between
the knowledgeable professional and the innocent amateur is less of a paradox. I
will instead emphasise another conflict; that which arises between Maspéro’s
employment of a tourist discourse and his social critique.
The journey is a postcolonial attempt to write about the lives of, among
others, the postcolonial immigrants that are imagined to be hidden in suburbia.
This brings to mind that Dean MacCannell, in his book Empty meeting grounds,
claims that tourism and postcolonial immigration are two fundamental develop-
ments that are reshaping society. I will argue that the journey of Maspéro and
Frantz combines the two, and that this evokes questions. What happens when
these two movements, that are seemingly irreconcilable, meet? What happens
when tourism moves from the typical Oceanside hotel to the postcolonial suburbs
of a European metropolis?
Roissy Express also combines many other journeys; there is also the move-
ments created by the subtle force of gentrification, in which the less affluent
move from inner-city areas to live in the so called periphery that Maspéro visits.
There are the rare return journeys of the immigrants, which further tie the
Parisian suburbs to the outside world. There are the movements of the constantly
222 Emilia Ljungberg

constructed and deconstructed urban landscape, brought on by urban planning,


that has a fundamental impact on its inhabitants. There are the historical
journeys, both of famous writers and those chronicled in the tourist guides, that
Maspéro evokes, and there is the journey of the merchandise they encounter in
what Maspéro calls the hypermarkets: “Filipino furniture and Walkmans from
Singapore, products from ‘The Four Dragons’, Swedish furniture […]” (Maspéro
30). These many journeys and movements are both explicitly and implicitly part
of the text.
Maspéro establishes that the book belongs to the travel genre in various
ways, explicitly by using the word journey in its subtitle, and by letting the text
follow a simple pattern of departing, travelling and arriving. The book starts
as a “typical” travelogue, on the location where the physical journey starts,
which is the Châtelet-station in Paris. There, Maspéro and Frantz meet on the
platform and wait for the train that will take them to Roissy. Maspéro writes
“they have arranged to meet at 9 am on the northbound platform at Châtelet —
Les Halles, deep underground. Their first stop will be Roissy — Charles de Gaulle
International airport, their launch pad into the wide open spaces of their great
adventure. They will be away for a month. For a month, then, farewell Paris”
(Maspéro 3). Here, Maspéro plays with the expectations of the reader who can
almost imagine that the travellers are in fact about to board a flight at the
airport and fly off to an exotic far away destination instead of returning to the
Regional Express and tour the suburbs.
What I am concerned with here is not foremost the book in its entirety, I will
instead focus primarily on the introductory chapters in which the project of the
book is given a background, explained and defended. In Roissy Express, tourism
functions both as a way of understanding ones presence in a foreign context and
as something to distance oneself from as well as being the source of parody. In
the beginning, Maspéro goes to great length to establish that it is a real journey
that they are undertaking and that it is legitimate, or more precise that their
presence in the banlieues is legitimate. In the following I will try to describe how
a tourist or travel discourse is used to these means.
Maspéro continuously explain that touring the suburbs constitutes a real
journey and by doing so he reinforces that it is something which needs to be
explained. As an example, he writes; “it would be a real journey, every evening
a hotel would need to be found.” (9) But at the same time it is not quite a con-
ventional tour. He also writes “For a month then they would go far away from
home, saying goodbye to their families, as you would when setting off for any
country you want to visit.” (Maspéro 13, my emphasis). The idea of conventional
travel provides Maspéro with a structure for his journey, a way to understand it.
In the initial scene, tourism and travelling is also present as a context that
If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers 223

provides parody. The idea of conventional tourism, but also earlier journeys, is
used as a contrast to their planned journey and thus comes to emphasise the
oddity of their project. When waiting for the train that will take them to the
airport, a foul smell reaches them. Maspéro compares the smell to that of the
sea breeze which reached earlier day seafarers. He writes;
François likes the moment in accounts of great ocean voyages when the
author breathes for the first time the smell of unknown lands […] Jean-
Louis Vaudoyer, heading for Havana on a handsome steamer sixty years
ago, tells how ‘once we crossed the Tropic of Cancer, the breath of
the West Indies filled the air with an organic fragrance.’ But you don’t
have to cross a Tropic to enjoy such a sensation: an organic aroma wafts
permanently around Châtelet-Les Halles […] Anaïk is sure that it’s the
sewers. (Maspéro 4)

This parodic comparison between other journeys and that of Maspéro and Frantz
is repeated when they reach the first hotel. The view of the highway that their
hotel room offers is compared to the typical touristic ocean view. Maspéro writes:
“in the morning they return to their cherished sun-soaked terrace. Speeding past
just a few metres away behind the glass screen, the stream of HGVs is still
dizzying…This hotel, says Anaïk, is by the motorway as others are by the sea. The
terrace is the beach. The roar of the cars is the ocean. This blue sky even seems
to contain a shade of Atlantic grey. And the traffic fumes sting your eyes like sea
spray.” (Maspéro 46) This can be seen both as another way of emphasising the
oddity of their journey and simultaneously as an attempt to make it an anti-tour
that differs from the desires of tourists to seek the beautiful and comfortable.
Tourism thus functions in two ways; conventional travel is evoked as a
reassuring context while it is simultaneously used as a means of parody. These
two functions are intimately connected; their journey through the Paris suburbs
is a “real” journey but it is one in which the parody is always present. Maspéro
also distances them from tourism more explicitly, in order to define their role as
Parisians in the banlieue, when he states that they are not “wide-eyed tourists”.
(Maspéro 15)
The French Studies scholar Katherine Gantz has commented on the fact that
Maspéro and Frantz are somewhere between being professionals and amateurs.
Maspéro takes notes and Frantz takes pictures but they don’t want to be tied to
this professional practice, they want to be free not to take notes and photos if
they choose to. They also choose not to bring the tape recorder that Maspéro
usually carries with him in his job for Radio France. Maspéro also states that their
journey might turn into a book, and then again it might not. There is also a
conflict between the ideal of covering one station a day and the wish of not being
in a hurry (Gantz 87). Gantz also comments on the fact that they prefer casual
224 Emilia Ljungberg

meetings and chance invitations instead of the well-planned and calculated.


According to Gantz there is a central contradiction here (Gantz 86).
Gantz reads the project Maspéro is embarking upon into a cultural studies
context and in effect comes to the conclusion that the writer fails to fully realize
what he sets out to do. However, if seen as a travel narrative this vacillation
between the professional and the casual, the desire to “see it all” but not be
bound to a tight schedule, along with their desire for the unexpected, is only
conventional, it goes well with the traditions of the travel writing genre. Tourists
take pictures of what interests them without having a professional goal.
Furthermore, as a consequence of new distribution outlets such as blog spots and
the like, there is now an increasingly blurred boundary between the professional
and the layman tourist.
The conflict between being a professional and being a casual wanderer is
also evident in the rather specific gaze that they use. Maspéro uses the
expression “ça me regarde”, to reverse the conventional positions of an active
onlooker and passive objects. The objects that they encounter are looking at
them, or concerns them, and not foremost the other way around. The expression
“ça me regarde” connotates a casual gaze, without a clear purpose, that is
controlled by something outside of the subject. This supposedly innocent gaze
without a dominant subject and clearly stated professional goal can be seen as
a construction of a tourist gaze in conjunction with the tourist characters of
Frantz and Maspéro. It is another manifestation of casualness and innocence.
It is also in line with the innocent and unimposing gaze of Frantz, the
photographer. Frantz photographic gaze is, although professional, constructed
as somehow different than that of the conventional photographer. In Paris,
Maspéro explains, Frantz takes photos that are impossible to sell, pictures of the
social outcasts, of those that the gentrification process has removed from the
city center. Maspéro writes:
“Each of Anaïk’s photos had a long story behind it. They never took people
by surprise, were never muggings. Her pictures were not rush jobs or
photographic rape. Nothing was for show either. The faces did not spring
from nowhere only to melt back into anonymity: each one had a name,
each one was linked to memories, confidences, meals, some shared human
warmth or hours spent together. The stories they told were always to be
continued. For these reasons, François used to say that they had some-
thing in common with Arab tales or an African palaver. They where photos
that took their time.” (Maspéro 11)

Her gaze is gendered female, and almost domestic with its origin in meals and
shared confidences, it is decidedly non-commercial and comparable to the time-
consuming practices of non-western storytellers. Frantz’s gaze and open attitude
If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers 225

toward the inhabitants they encounter is constructed to stand in contrast to


Maspéro’s grumpiness and his role that vacillates between that of the intellectual
bourgeois traveller who is on the verge of being a full fledged explorer, and that
of the postcolonial writer of social reportage.
In his role of explorer, Maspéro relies on a number of earlier journeys. One
literary voyage that is evoked in a rather subtle manner is the journey down the
Congo River in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Without openly acknowledging
the reference Maspéro, who is a translator of Conrad, writes that he found
inspiration for his trip by remembering how he studied maps as a child. The
dream is to physically experience that which is seen in representation. As an
adult he has the opportunity to conquer the mapped territory. When Maspéro
travels down the Regional Express toward Paris and observes the banlieues
outside of the window he is both the postcolonial writer who wishes to give a
voice to those silenced by gentrification and social disadvantage, and an explorer
from yesteryears, who muses; “Secret places were there before his eyes, waiting
to be discovered, unknown even to those who travelled through them daily”
(Maspéro 8).
Thus the suburbs are constructed as something hidden and exotic that can
be explored for the world weary traveller who has already “discovered” places
such as China and South America. But for Maspéro their “hiddenness” is also a
result of conventional tourism. When the passenger travels directly from the
airport to central Paris the banlieue is reduced to an unremarkable grey mass of
land. They have become what anthropologist Marc Augé calls a non-place, a place
emptied of meaning.1 Their journey is thus an attempt to define the suburbs as
a real territory, to put it on the map in more than one way.
The question of how geographical location is experienced is central to
Maspéro, and his claim is that the experience of space has changed in crucial
ways. In the following I will briefly discuss this critique and how it relates to
comments made by scholars of contemporary society. Maspéro's journey is a
search for real space. The suburbs come to represent the authentic, in relation
to Paris where gentrification processes has emptied the city of what Maspéro
refers to as “real people”. Maspéro’s vision of the true Paris is reminiscent of
Augé’s idea of the authentic French village where there are no non-places.
Maspéro writes; “they had watched the departure of an entire class of craftsmen,
workers and small shopkeepers — all the people that went to make up a Paris
street. […] Paris had become a business hypermarket and a cultural Disneyland.”

1 Augé defines non-places as places characterized by abstract commerce, solitary individuality


and the ephemeral.
226 Emilia Ljungberg

(Maspéro 16) Maspéro goes to the suburbs searching for “the real”, that which is
unpolluted by the logic of the so called hypermarket and that is rooted in local
life.
Another similarity between Maspéro’s text and the theories of Augé is that
the airport is described as one of the most inauthentic places. In Maspéro's initial
presentation of the journey he recounts meeting a friend at the airport and
writes: “That morning he had got a call from Roissy: a friend was between flights.
She had arrived from one continent and was leaving for another. He had gone to
meet her for such a short time, in that space outside of real time and space.”
(Maspéro 7) This experience of the inauthenticity of the airport, and the ennui
that comes from a travelling lifestyle, leads to the decision to tour the suburbs.
He writes: “he’d had enough of great intercontinental journeys; enough of
clocking up the miles without seeing any more than you would through the
misted-up windows of the Trans-Siberian Express; enough of droning through skies
above the clouds and the ocean. All the journeys have been done. They are within
reach of anyone who can afford a charter ticket. All the accounts of journeys
have been written […].” (Maspéro 8) Maspéro claims that his own journey is more
authentic because he is experiencing the local environment that he is travelling
through, by leaving the express train that makes spaces disappear.
Maspéro’s concerns with disappearing spaces are similar to what many
scholars have said about the mixing of the local and the distant that is made
possible by communication media. In the book Home Territories, David Morley
quotes John Durham Peters who writes that “the irony is that the general
becomes clear through representation, whereas the immediate is subject to the
fragmenting effects of our limited experience […] and the local environment is
often seen fleetingly” (Morley 174). Maspéro makes a similar point even though
he is discussing actual travel instead of the movement of mediated images. He
is arguing that when we have access to that which is far away the local fails to
catch our attention. The local is no longer that which we are intimately familiar
with, it becomes unknown, and therefore lived experience does not hold any
necessary correlation with a specific geographical location.
Through his journey Maspéro encounters a variety of different spaces that he
defines in a manner similar to Augé’s non-places. One such example is his critique
of the representation of space in the tourist guides that he reads. He writes:
modern guides are no longer conceived, as they used to be, on the principle
of the itinerary but in alphabetic order. Just as with a digital watch you
can no longer see time as a continuity by following the hands, but only
as an isolated fraction “displayed” second after second, which nothing
can link to those before or after — time broken into bits and pieces — so
in modern guides you can no longer see space; gone are the railway
If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers 227

journeys, car itineraries and linking threads for the walker; nothing joins
together all the unconnected villages, which lie scattered like pawns at
the alphabet’s mercy-space broken into bits and pieces. (Maspéro 13)

The presentation of space in the new guides is alienating and unnatural because
it does not follow the patterns of actual journeys and thus does not represent
the actual experience of space. Maspéro describes various places that he
encounters as inauthentic, gentrified and disconnected space. There are also
places that Maspéro describes as “temporary spaces”. These are found around
the airport and are defined as being “pieces of badly stuck together space,
always giving you the feeling that a missing piece of puzzle is needed to give the
whole thing a sense. But who’s asking you to make sense of something that is
only for travelling through? And quickly. By car.” (Maspéro 20)
Another type of space that Maspéro encounters is the spaces of immobility.
In Maspéro’s description of “the 3000”, an underprivileged neighbourhood, he
writes: “The 3000 was out of the way, with no train or metro. Far from the rest
of Aulnay and everything else. The motorway cut it off like a ditch from nearby
neighbourhoods, from nearby estates, from the rest of the world.” (Maspéro 35)
However, Maspéro then uses travel as a metaphor for the immobility of the 3000.
“It’s a liner, their friend had said, on which the passengers embarked on long
motionless journeys but always remained in transit.” (Maspéro 37) The
disadvantaged neighbourhood is described as a journey that leads nowhere.
This juxtaposition of travel and immobility in the quote above is reminiscent
of Zygmunt Bauman’s theories in his book Globalization. Bauman divides humanity
into the unfortunate Vagabonds and the affluent Tourists. Both Bauman and
Maspéro come to the conclusion that everything is defined by travel, even the
lives of those who cannot travel (Bauman 74). An associated conclusion is that
the experience of space has changed both for the privileged and the
underprivileged; for the Tourist Maspéro that knows more about China than the
local environment, and for the Vagabonds he encounters in the suburbs that are
immobilized in their neighbourhoods and that rarely travel to Paris.
A comparison between Maspéro’s text and Bauman’s theories in Globalization
shows another aspect of Maspéro’s ambivalence between the established tropes
of tourism and the social critique of how space is constructed. Bauman argues
that it is the constant search for something new, new experiences and places,
that keeps the Tourists locked in a capitalist logic that they are unable to
criticize. It is the desire for something new that leads to perpetual consumption
(Bauman 79). Maspéro on the other hand lets the search for new territory, a
recurrent theme in travel narratives, be the driving force behind his journey. His
construction of himself in the text includes him being the nostalgic explorer, the
world weary traveller and the tourist; characters that are all searching for new
228 Emilia Ljungberg

sensations. Even in his role of social critic he is searching for something new, in
this case defined as authentic space and “real” people. Gantz argues that
Maspéro’s cultural studies project clashes with French studies but there is an
equally brutal clash between Maspéro’s leftist analysis and his loyalty to a
discourse of travel and exploration.
Gantz claims that despite their efforts and ambitions, Maspéro and Frantz
end up being mere tourists in the banlieues. As I have argued, tourism is not only
problematic but could also be seen as a resource for them, even though they
reject it. Tourism, and the role of the tourist, can be understood as a way to
mask their problematic role as Parisians in the suburbs. Tourism provides them
with a reason to be there without making use of a professional perspective
and without having to reflect on the more problematic aspects of their presence.
It furthermore facilitates the parody that emphasise the uniqueness and the
oddity of their journey. However, as I have also argued, a tourist discourse is
irreconcilable with Maspéro’s social critique.
Maspéro insists that there is a difference between his previous journeys to
China and his journey in the suburbs, that the geographically near has been made
inauthentic by long-haul travel and has to be, in Maspéro’s words, “rewritten”.
But even though Maspéro is consciously trying to avoid it by his rejection of
tourism, when he moves the destination for his travels from the far-away to the
near, the practices of travel are due to follow, the act of travelling is understood
in the same way even though the purpose and destination has come to differ.
Maspéro sets out to experience and describe the suburbs in the same way that
he would experience and describe what he calls “deepest China” (Maspéro 7).
This is why Maspéro and Frantz remain tourists. They are tourists, not just
because they lack a critical perspective on their practice of travelling but also
because Maspéro chooses to, as parody or not, understand their journey in terms
of tourism. Furthermore, in his search for a more authentic journey and authentic
spaces, Maspéro writes himself into a very dominant discourse in travel writing.
The difference is that from Maspéro’s leftist perspective, the new and authentic,
which is so sought after by travellers, is located in the suburbs.

Works Cited
Augé, Marc, Non-places, an introduction to the anthropology of supermodernity, London:
Verso, 1995
Bauman, Zygmunt, Globalization: The Human Consequences, New York: Polity, 1998
Gantz, Katherine, “Dangerous Intersections: The Near-Collision of French and Cultural
Studies in Maspero's Les Passagers du Roissy-Express”, The French Review, October
1999, Vol. 73, No. 1, pp. 82-93
If this is Thursday then this must be Aubervilliers 229

MacCannell, Dean, Empty meeting grounds, London: Routledge, 1992


Maspéro, François, Roissy-Express – A Journey through the Paris suburbs, Trans. Paul Jones.
London: Verso, 1994
Morley, David, Home Territories: media, mobility and identity, London: Routledge, 2000
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations
built by Portuguese young people during their stay
in Macao

INÊS PESSOA*
ISCTE — Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

ISBN 978-972-8886-24-0 • FROM BRAZIL TO MACAO • CEAUL / ULICES 2013


* At the time of the congress she had been granted a FCT scholarship.
1. Introduction
In the 80’s and 90’s of the twentieth century, when Macao was still under
Portuguese administration, it played host to a number of Portuguese young
people whose parents were employed in the territory’s public and private sectors
in intermediate or senior positions.
During their sojourns in Macao, which occurred in a relatively early life stage
and lasted from three to fifteen years, these youngsters found a huge spatial,
social and cultural difference between Portugal and the host society. This sense
of difference was particularly felt by those who had the opportunity, as tourists,
to travel extensively around Far Eastern countries, alone, with friends or with
their parents: to Thailand, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Malaysia and so forth.
This article focuses upon the main social representations1 Portuguese young
people built about Asian people, chiefly Chinese and Macanese population,
regarding several dimensions of their lives such as values, beliefs, traditions,
practices, preferences, symbols, cultural references and social standings.
The discussion which follows will, therefore, pay close attention to the
dominant classification systems and stereotypes present in their narratives,
as well as to the analysis of the dynamic and changeable character of the
Portuguese youngsters’ social representations throughout their biographical and
historical period of time spent in Macao. Our empirical findings are going to be
supported by theoretical approaches about identities and the representations of
the “other”.

1 This concept brings us forward to “practical theories of the common sense”, “images built
about reality” collectively produced and shared through the interaction and communication
within social groups. Social representations configure grids of interpretation, evaluation,
classification and explanation of the reality (although not being that reality) which are able
to give a meaning to the surrounding environment, as well as to orient the behaviours and the
social relationships (Spink 117-122; Vala 353-384).
234 Inês Pessoa

2. Methodology: brief considerations


Being part of a wider research about the living experience of Portuguese
young people in Macao in the period of time referred to above, this article relies
on a qualitative approach, based on a number of Portuguese youngsters’ life
stories, in order to provide an in-depth and detailed insight into their spell
abroad, together with a longitudinal analysis of their trajectories. The interviews
were conducted in Lisbon, after the return of the young people to Portugal.
Regarding the interviewees’ social profile, they are aged between 15 and 34
years old — males and females equally represented. The majority are single and,
like their parents, almost all have superior academic levels. Combining this data
with their households’ life-styles and consumption pattern indicators, we have
concluded that these young people belong to middle and upper middle class.
The research also includes fieldwork carried out in Macao for one month,
where direct observation was done; as well as the analysis of biographical
material such as photos, videos and further sign elements, complementing it with
both informal interviews with some of the young people’s relatives and
consultation of official documents.

3. “Blurred” views about the “other”


3.1 Homogenisation: hyperbolising the similarities among the local population
Concerning the social representations towards the local population, the main
views shared by the Portuguese young people on arriving in Macao and in the
early part of their stay, tended to hyperbolise the similarities within Asian people
in general and among Chinese people in particular, who seemed to be the same
and indistinguishable in the eyes of Portuguese youngsters.
Some of these views were supported by phenotypical and anthropo-physical
attributes acknowledged as dominant (such as their small stature, dark and
straight hair, Asian eyes, among others) and, consequently, abusively generalised.
In fact, they resemble the contemporary social representations Western people
tend to build about the Chinese population (Yan 640), as well as the stereotypes
prevalent at the end of the nineteenth century, as we infered through the writings
of Eça de Queirós (33), a Portuguese writer, who illustrated, through a caricatured
way, the Western tendency to homogenise Chinese people’s profiles, disregarding
the variety of physical appearances and cultural and social backgrounds.
At the beginning everyone looked the same (…) How could I distinguish
between a Chinese guy from Shanghai and a Chinese guy from Guangzhou
or Beijing, how could I distinguish a Malayan from a Philippino, or from a
Thai? It was all the same crap (…) But after a while no, you became aware
of all the differences. (Catarina)
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations built by Portuguese young people 235

This practice of homogenising populations through monolithic images, denounced


by authors such as Said (56) and Goody (9-22) frequently results in the attribution
of “mistaken identities” — expression of Jenkins (5) — in as much as those to whom
such labels are ascribed do not recognize these characteristics in themselves.

3.2 Differentiation: amplifying the differences between Portuguese


people and the locals
This process of inner homogenisation went hand in hand with a process of
outer differentiation, in which the cultural and social differences between the
Portuguese people and the Chinese and Macanese2 people tended also to be
hyperbolised.
Actually, in their narratives, our interviewees have selected several attrib-
utes to describe the locals, and the adjectives more frequently used were
“different” and “distinct”: Chinese people were generally portrayed as being
different not only regarding their language, religion, cultural inheritances and
references, but also concerning their values and beliefs; ways of being, living,
dressing, eating (and what they eat), behaving, etc.
If the tendency to homogenise populations usually reflects an immediate
and superficial glimpse of “the other”, the propensity to differentiate and
“exoticise” him expresses the use of one’s cultural framework to evaluate the
“other”.
(…) from the way they learn the language and how to write it, which is
very different from ours, to the way they see the family; [the way] they
behave in society; all the deference they display with their neighbours —
because they are very hierarchical, great respecters of tradition, of the
people’s hierarchy —; their way of being, the way they live their daily
life, [the way] they go shopping, how they are in the market, their
relationship with animals. (…) I’m sure that a clear difference of social-
cultural behaviour was felt between the Portuguese community and the
Chinese and Macanese one. (Sofia)

According to the youngsters, the Chinese population is peaceful, patient, prag-


matic, perfectionist, extremely conservative, self-controlled and disciplined (due
to a very tough upbringing). More specifically, Portuguese young people have

2 Although our interviewees share the widespread view that Macanese people have a Luso-
Chinese affiliation, anthropologists such as Amaro (44), and Cabral and Lourenço (12-13)
defend that they descend from Euro-Asian people (including Indian, Malay, Japanese,
Philippine, Pakistani, and only more recently from Chinese people who settled in that
territory).
236 Inês Pessoa

referred to Chinese people’s rigid customs; the cultivation of traditions; the pride
in their millenary culture and civilization; the family cohesion and loyalty (not
only during life but also after death); the devotion towards their forefathers;
the obedience to the patriarchal authority; the respect and affection for elderly
people.
The long-established values and the family institution were, thus, considered
sacred principles around which Chinese life was structured, a perspective that
many authors also reinforce when referring to the “traditional China”, as well
as to the Confucianism ethic that had been profoundly embedded in the Chinese
society for a long time (Freitas 22; Mackerras 251; Amaro 110; Goody 213).
Incidentally, Gomes (19) suggests that those values, associated with the imperial
doctrine and with the respective ideals of moral behaviour, were instilled very
early in the children’s socialization with the purpose of keeping the population
submissive and under control to assure the social order and cohesion, that is, to
maintain the stability of the country.
Chinese people were also described as ambitious, entrepreneurial, excellent
traders, wheeler-dealers and hard workers to whom, as pointed out by the
interviewees, Macao owes its development. Many of these attributes have also
been underlined by Amaro (29, 109, 158) who justifies their laboriousness as a
“battle weapon” to fight against the very poor conditions they have been facing
and which are worsened by the high population density, and consequently by
intense competition.
(…) all Chinese people are kind and very hard working people. (…) in two
months these guys build a sky-scraper with almost forty or fifty floors.
(…) They work twenty four hours a day, in shifts, banging, crashing (…).
They earn nothing, it is sheer exploitation, but in general things worked
and because there are so many of them they had no choice but to do it.
(João)

The addiction to play (from mah-jong to the games of fortune and misfortune)
was also registered as being among the most representative attributes of the
locals, plus their strong consumerism and materialism, seen as a result of the
special economic and political status of Macao which has created favourable
conditions to change the life conditions of the population, awaking feelings of
ambition and expectancies of enrichment.
(…) my [Chinese] neighbours (…) used to spend hours playing mah-jong at
night, hours! You only listened to the noises of the pieces… they were
shouting, but they took this seriously (…). (…) several times I used to stand
on the balcony watching groups of people, sat on the wall playing a kind
of Draughts (…) hours and hours (…). (…) And the infinite number of
casinos that exist all over Macao, from illegal casinos (…) the story of dog
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations built by Portuguese young people 237

racing that they also play, and play seriously [sic] (…) and they really
vibrate with the game, is something that you note immediately, it really
hits you. (…) in the Portuguese school (…) Macanese [students] used to
play with spirits (…) Another thing that is very, very, very obvious is the
game of fortune, of luck and misfortune (…) therefore they believe totally
in it. (Teresa)

Moreover, there was reference to their superstitious practices — e.g numerology


and Feng-Shui — as well as to their religious rituals and popular cults, such as
the possession of altars and red ribbons with auspicious sentences at home; the
tendency to offer gifts to their forefathers to pay homage to them and to benefit
from their protection.
Further social representations bring us forward to the secondary position
Chinese people are thought to give to their houses, qualified as kitsch and a
merely functional place to satisfy basic needs rather than to socialize, this
practice being confined to the outdoors. The people’s tendency to keep the doors
open to the exterior was still mentioned, a custom that allowed Portuguese
youngsters to see some dimensions of their daily lives and which was understood
as a kind of “public privacy”.
Concerning the relationship Chinese people developed with foreigners,
chiefly the Portuguese, they were in general considered polite but also distant
and inexpressive, and taking no advantage of the opportunities to engage with
Portuguese people (this centripetal attitude was mutual, according to the
Portuguese youngsters).
With respect to the social structure, Chinese people were portrayed as a
largely needy and poorly educated people, a lot of them illegal immigrants and
refugees, victims of work exploitation, living in very precarious conditions and
displaying some unhygienic attitudes (such as spitting on the floor and belching
after meals).
(…) I remember hearing several times people saying: «Oh, Chinese people
are dirty!». (…) they have tried to control it a bit through a variety of civic
education campaigns (…), there were outdoors and posters in the streets
explaining that people should not spit on the floor. (Leonor)
In spite of not being exclusive to that population, these behaviours were evaluated
under certain ethnocentric views, as those denounced by Said (213), Mackerras
(269), among others. However, allusions to highly sophisticated conduct were
also mentioned.
There was still allusion to an intellectual elite and to a middle class growing
up, along with a business segment who tended to be associated with work
exploitation, sects, corruption, casinos and night clubs, prostitution and drug
trafficking. The huge gap between classes was underlined, too.
238 Inês Pessoa

(…) whom did we know among Chinese People? It was the civil construction
worker, because you didn’t see a Portuguese man working in the civil
construction, it was the maid, it was the Chinese people that were living
in those very bad buildings (…) in the Inner Harbour. Of course there were
rich Chinese people (…) owners of discos (…) maybe a certain mafia (…)
but they had no academic qualifications, they weren’t educated people
that had got on in life by the legal method (…) they rose in life a bit due
to the casinos, the night clubs, the prostitution, and things like that.
Of course there are several exceptions but I don’t know personally. [sic]
(Madalena)

3.3 Stereotyping three main social groups: the elders; women; youth
Besides the general social representations referred to above, we have found
some stereotypical views on three main social groups: the elders; women and
youth.
The elders were portrayed as having the highest status in Chinese society
and in family structure, being respected, loved and cared for by the youngest.
They were also represented as being serene, spiritual, worthy, wise persons and
extremely dynamic, since they practice Tai-Chi in the gardens; take their birds
in bird-cages for a stroll; sing in small choirs; and take care of their grandchildren.
In fact, they were positively compared to the Portuguese elders: inactive and
marginalized people.
Concerning women, our male interviewees considered them beautiful,
sensual, sweet, delicate and exotic, qualities that fit into the classical stereo-
types of this group (Freitas 20; Barreira 83-85; Hongzhao 690; Oliveira 147). In
contrast, the female interviewees described them as being ambitious, calculating,
seductive and submissive due to the undervalued position women were supposed
to have in Chinese society, a position also pointed out by Gomes (159-160); Casta-
nheira (68); Cabral and Lourenço (16); Barreira (187). However, some authors
associate this idea to the past since Chinese women acquired, in the last half
century, several rights (regarding property, education, work and marriage) and
so a more equal status to men.
In the opinion of the female respondents, the attributes mentioned above
about Chinese women attracted European men who considered them ideal wives.
Besides, they were portrayed as seeing marriage with Europeans as a double
passport: geographical and social as it allowed them to rise in the social ladder
and to leave Macao. They were still considered “home wreckers”, that is, the
cause of several Portuguese marriages ending in Macao.
Relating to Chinese and Macanese youngsters, the Portuguese interviewees
agreed that they displayed different youth codes, chiefly their leisure activities
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations built by Portuguese young people 239

and musical preferences, as well as their outward appearances which were


object of their disdain.
Macanese boys were, in general, labelled as being tacky and exhibitionistic,
investing excessively in their image in order to present a good look — an invest-
ment that many Portuguese youngsters dispensed with for themselves because
of their high social condition and symbolic status.
We [the Portuguese youngsters] didn’t give a damn, we just got dirtier
and dirtier, maybe because in Macao there was no need for affirmation of
the people’s social standing because everybody was living well, then
nobody needed to dress well to show the other (…). And we hated, we were
proud not to need these things. What for? We all had the same standing,
we were equal, and we didn’t need to wear these things. Macanese people
had the greatest need (…) and they all wore labelled clothes and all of
them had strange habits. (…). They were worried about their image. (…)
They are very materialistic (…) The most bizarre Chinese [youngsters] (…
) had their hair coloured (…) and wore gutter shoes (…). We didn’t have
any of their concepts of carrying a comb in the back pocket, we consid-
ered it ridiculous, in the same way they found ridiculous that we wore
ragged trousers, with that junky appearance, going out at night and
drinking, underage…and frequenting night clubs (…). (Madalena)

They were also considered a bit provocative, behaviour justified by their hybrid
identity — “ambivalent and potentially problematic” (Cabral and Lourenço 11)
— as well as to their inferiority complex of being neither Chinese, nor Portuguese.
Furthermore, Portuguese youngsters have concluded they themselves were
not models to Chinese and Macanese youth who seem to follow Anglo-Saxon
references, adapting them to their local styles. As they noticed, the dream of
the local youth was moving to the U.S, Canada, Britain or Australia, seeing
Portugal only as a platform to move on.
Indeed, despite a number of Macanese young people being well integrated
in some Portuguese networks (essentially those whose up-bringing occurred
according to the Portuguese cultural frameworks, at home and/or in school), the
majority were, like their Chinese peers, out of Portuguese young people’s groups.

4. The changeable character of the Portuguese youngsters’ social


representations
Despite the propensity to homogenise and differentiate those who did not
form part of the Portuguese “community” in Macao, it is worth noticing that
as time went by and as Portuguese young people became older, more reflexive
and familiarized with the social and cultural environment of the host society,
their former views about Asian people in general and about Chinese people in
240 Inês Pessoa

particular started shifting in some domains: their feelings of surprise and


strangeness towards difference have greatly decreased and the widespread views
on the West’s superiority began to be questioned (the technological, electronic,
and scientific Asian vanguards have contributed to it).
It is true that a number of our interviewees still use the cultural references
of their belonging groups to classify the local people of Macao, attaching to
them positive and negative attributes which tended to be considered natural,
inherent, fixed, and essential characteristics of the population (in the line of the
primordialist conception of identity).
However, in the present, and still during their period in Macao, many other
Portuguese youngsters realized how ethnocentric and blurred some of their first
views about the locals were, as they were supported by their own “Westernised”
standards of evaluation. Consequently, they have changed the “lens of their
glasses” as well as the scale of observation to zoom in on that reality in more
detail, trying to understand Chinese people’s practices, behaviours, values and
beliefs in the light of that specific cultural, social and political context, as well
as in the light of Chinese people’s different cultural backgrounds and social
standings.
In fact, their living experience in Macao, their daily interaction with the
locals in the public sphere, and the possibility the majority had to travel widely
around Far Eastern countries gave them the opportunity to became aware of the
variety of worlds included in the large continent of Asia, as emphasized by Freitas
(19) and Mackerras (270).
They ended up realizing that within Chinese people in particular there was
not one single mentality, nor exclusive traditions, nor a unique way of being
and behaving, but several “profiles”: those from the north and the south; those
from the biggest cities and the countryside; those from the highest, middle and
lowest classes; those more conservative and traditionalist and those who are
considered sophisticated. And one should add and underline that even among
these “archetypal” populations there is a variety of individual “profiles” with
unique attributes.
They also became attentive to the Chinese inner diversity represented, for
instance, by the existence of diverse languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and other
dialects); religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Catholicism); more than
fifty different ethnic groups, along with a variety of traditions and life-styles
(Freitas 20; Yan 648).
Regarding Chinese and Macanese young people, even if the majority of the
interviewees still portray them as being a different group, when looking back, a
number recognized several affinities they shared with the local youngsters when
living in Macao: the regular frequenting of amusement arcades; the enjoyment
Views about Southeast Asia: social representations built by Portuguese young people 241

of riding motorbikes; having fun playing in rock bands in rented studios, drinking
beer, smoking cannabis, together with many other practices and leisure activities
shared by youth.

5. Conclusions
To conclude, it is important to underline two main ideas. Firstly, although
recognizing that there are stereotypes about the “other” that survive for decades
or even centuries, passing through generations and generations in the form of
narratives and old myths, we defend that social representations, like identities,
should not be seen as something fixed. They do not remain unchanged forever,
because they are supported by particular scenarios of production, such as cultural
references and socio-political contexts that also vary in time. Indeed, we argue
that social representations have a dynamic, contingent and mutable character
as we have noticed regarding the Portuguese youngsters’ views built about local
people throughout the period of time spent in Macao.
Secondly, it is worth emphasizing that the analysis of Portuguese young
people’s views about the inhabitants of Macao has functioned not only as a
purpose in itself — that is, the purpose of knowing how they built the category
of “otherness”; but has also constituted a medium to study: on the one hand,
the character of the relationships these youngsters have developed with local
people (which tended to be superficial and distant); on the other hand, the
Portuguese young people’s identities, since social representations are anchors of
identity affirmation, expressing the individual’s cultural and social belongings
and thus their situation within the social structure (Vala 357-358, 363).
In fact, studying their views about Chinese and Macanese people has become
an extremely important indicator to understand the way they saw themselves as
well as the Portuguese community settled in the territory, since while talking
about the others, they are also revealing their own practices, cultural references,
values, and dispositions, as well as their feelings of belonging.
With this idea, one should conclude with a Bourdieu (135) statement, saying
that “There is nothing that classifies someone more than their own classifica-
tions” [about the other], one should add.

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