International Conference - Missions and Colonial Power in Angola and Mozambique in the 20th Century - NEW DEADLINE

Aurora Almada e Santos's picture

6-7 December 2018

Venue: Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Call for Papers

In the 20th century, during the colonial period in Angola and Mozambique, the projects and missionary activities received special attention from the Portuguese government and from numerous churches, shaping the societies.

The succession of different political regimes in Portugal – the Constitutional Monarchy, officially Catholic, the secular República (Republic), the Estado Novo (New State), formally separated from the Catholic Church but with a close collaboration with Catholicism – did not entail disruptions in the relations between the Portuguese state and missionary practices. The experiences of the secular missions during the I República had a limited scope. The fact that the Estado Novo assigned a role to Catholicism in the “portugalização” (assimilation to the Portuguese culture) of the African populations, through the Missionary Agreement of 1940 supplemented by the Missionary Statute of 1941, reinforced the capacity of the Catholic Church intervention. However, it did not introduce innovations in the conceptualization of Catholic missions as a mean to “portugalizar” (portugalization) and “civilizar” (civilize) territories under its sovereignty in Africa.

The colonial policy became a “mystic” supported and enhanced by a close association between the Portuguese nationalism and the imperial project, legitimizing the slogan “Portugal não é um país pequeno” (Portugal is not a small country). The nationalism promoted by the Estado Novo was coupled with the Catholic missionary project. From 1961 onward, the Estado Novo implemented reforms and tested new policies expecting to exclude the possibility of decolonization, in a period named by scholars as “late colonialism”. In the new context, the colonial power displayed an inclination to mitigate its “religious policy”, adding non-Catholic religious denominations to the imperial mystic, although such strategic inflection was not always obvious for the public opinion.

From the perspective of the missionaries in Angola and Mozambique, the colonial period in the 20th century was marked by the expansion of Christianity; the religious competition; changes and ecclesial discussions regarding missions, their goals and methodologies; changes in the understanding of religious liberty and in the relationship of different religious denominations with each other.

The logic of the Portuguese state to conceive all territories under its sovereignty as part of a whole was confronted by the missionaries in the ground with the possibility or the need to think their action as included in the African regional logics or in the international dynamics of their religious denominations, orders and congregations. 

The international conference has as the main goal to think about:

-the different projects and missionary activities in Angola and Mozambique during the 20th century;

-how the Portuguese state, throughout the different political regimes, had in consideration the religious factor in its colonial strategy;

-the articulation and tensions between the colonial power and the Christian missions in the educational and social fields;

-the interactions between missions, Portuguese nationalism and the Angolan and Mozambican anticolonial nationalisms;

-the competition and convergence between different religious denominations;

-the issues raised by the relation between the Catholic hierarchy and the different dynamics of Catholic missions.

We anticipate that the international conference will contribute to promoting the debate about the methodology of analysis of missions in Angola and Mozambique during the colonial period, stimulating the revision of the literature and the presentation of papers based in missionary archives.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations. Abstracts (300 words) and biographical notes (250 words) should be sent to

Abstracts submission deadline: 7 October 2018.


Notification of acceptance: 15 October 2018.

Organizing Committee

Aurora Almada e Santos (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

Cláudia Ninhos (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

João Miguel Almeida (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

Maria Inácia Rezola (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

Paulo Fontes (CEHR-UCP)

Pedro Aires Oliveira (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

Scientific Committee

António Matos Ferreira (CEHR-UCP; FL-UL)

Bruno Cardoso Reis – (CEI-IUL; ISCTE-IUL)

Clara Carvalho – (CEI-IUL; ISCTE-IUL)

Edalina Sanches (ICS-UL)

Eugénia Rodrigues – (CH-UL)

Hugo Dores (CES-UC; CEHR-UCP)