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Tradition, Translation, TraumaThe Classic and the Modern$
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Jan Parker and Timothy Mathews

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.001.0001

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History as Traumatic Memory

History as Traumatic Memory

Das Á‎fricas1

Chapter:
(p.299) 16 History as Traumatic Memory
Source:
Tradition, Translation, Trauma
Author(s):

Helena Buescu

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.003.0019

This chapter presents a reading of Das Áfricas (1991) by José Afonso Furtado (photographs) and Maria Velho da Costa (text). It asks: why does Velho da Costa say she is afraid of these photographs in particular? What do they stir in her that might account for this kind of feeling and therefore explain what would otherwise seem an unreasonable reaction to a group of apparently peaceful, even tranquil pictures? The chapter shows that the traumatic events at the source of this text belong to that same sombre family that a certain inscription of history and cultural memory has tried to express in recent years in relation to events such as the Holocaust. They both have to do with how history is inscribable in photographs that do not show violence in itself, yet represent the remnants of that historical violence in an apparently tranquil way. It is argued that precisely the ‘inhuman’ character of this history accounts for the materialization of fear, born out of a traumatic representation that one should be able to locate and try to understand as such.

Keywords:   Das Áfricas, José Afonso Furtado, Maria Velho da Costa, photographs, trauma

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