The Last Empire:
30 years of Portuguese decolonization

Stewart Lloyd-Jones and António Costa Pinto (eds.)
Bristol: Intellect/Portuguese Journal of Social Science
Forthcoming, October 2003
ISBN 18418501093


This book is the result of a conference on Portuguese decolonisation, which took place in Edzell, Dundee on 11-14 September 2000 as an initiative of the Contemporary Portuguese Political History Research Centre (CPHRC) and the University of Dundee's Department of Politics. This event brought together European and North American researchers who have, during the last few years, studied Portuguese decolonisation within the context of the country's transition to democracy.

In the first part of the book, Richard Robinson analyses the significant influence of the colonial wars on the nature of Portugal's transition to democracy. Noted for its fierce resistance to decolonisation, the dictatorship of António Salazar finally succumbed to a coup d'état that placed the country's armed forces at the forefront of Portugal's transition. Robinson examines the initial crisis of the Portuguese Revolution of April 1974, which was dominated by conflicts concerning the nature of Portugal's withdrawal from its empire.

One of the main factors explaining the accentuated crisis of the state that characterised Portugal's democratisation, and which differentiated its transition from those of Spain and Greece, was the manner in which the transition to democracy occurred simultaneously with the decolonisation process. In the second chapter, António Costa Pinto examines how the prospect of Portugal's integration into the European Economic Community constituted an alternative vision to the 'end of empire', and how it became an important factor in the consolidation of Portugal's democracy by enabling the Portuguese to quickly forget the trauma of decolonisation.

The second part of the book includes the examination of two case studies of examples that have largely been neglected in English language scholarship. In the third chapter, Malyn Newitt examines some of the ways in which the actual process of decolonisation influenced the direction in which São Tomé and Príncipe developed after independence from Portugal. His contribution looks at three questions: the extent to which the decolonisation had its own momentum rather that being simply a by-product of the general decolonisation in the other colonies; the extent to which the choices made at the time of decolonisation became major determinants of the way the country has developed; and thirdly, whether there were practical alternatives to decolonisation and independence that might better have secured the prosperity and development of such a small and fragile state.

In the following chapter, Arnaldo Gonçalves provides another case study, this time examining the various destinies of the remains of Portugal's empire in India and Asia. He divides his analysis between Goa, Damão and Diu, which were invaded by the Indian Union in 1961, at the very outbreak of the colonial war in Africa; East Timor, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975; and the particular status of Macao-Portugal's final colonial possession, which was transferred to Chinese control in 1999.

The third part of the book analyses the changing relationship between Portugal and its former colonies in Africa. In chapter five, Luís António Santos explains how Portugal, after 20 years establishing itself in Europe, began to look once more at its relations with its former colonies. He analysis the problems and delays involved in creating the Communidade de Países da Língua Portuguesa (CPLP-Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), and Portugal's uncertainty regarding the nature of its relationship with its former possessions in this new organisation, and the debates between forces with opposing visions of just what the CPLP is meant to represent to each of its member states.

In a rather provokative chapter, Michel Cahen takes a look at the CPLP from the point of view of the Países Africanos da Língua Oficial Portuguesa (PALOP-Portuguese Speaking African Countries), pointing out that there is little interest in these countries for the establishment of privileged relations with Portugal. Finally, Martin Eaton examines one of the greatest impacts of decolonisation-the presence in Portugal of large numbers of immigrants from the PALOPs.

In addition to these communications, we are able to publish the testimonies of two of the participants at the conference in part four of the book. The first of these, by the renowned historian of lusophone Africa, Douglas L. Wheeler, is a previously unpublished document that he presented to the United States' Department of State just a few weeks prior to the April revolution. Many of his conclusions were subsequently confirmed by events on the ground. The second testimony is by the well-known journalist and Portuguese activist, António de Figueiredo, who fled the dictatorship to exile in the United Kingdom during the 1950s. Figueiredo's contribution represents an important autobiographical account of a lifetime opponent of the Portuguese dictatorship. Figueiredo was a participant in General Humberto Delgado's democratic opposition campaign for the Portuguese Presidency in 1958-a campaign that led to one of the dictatorship's greatest crises.


Preface and acknowledgements

PART I: Portugal, the colonies and the 1974 Revolution

PART II: Case Studies

PART III: Portugal and the PALOPs

PART IV: Testimonies