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e-Journal of Portuguese History

On-line version ISSN 1645-6432


ALMEIDA, Pedro Lopes de. The Past Is a Foreign Photo: Image and Travel Writing in the Benguela Railway. Angola, 1920-1930. e-JPH [online]. 2018, vol.16, n.1, pp.75-95. ISSN 1645-6432.

The introduction of railways in Europe throughout the 19th century is the origin of a new perception of space defined by the “annihilation of the traditional space-time continuum which characterized the old transport technology” (Schivelbusch 36). In the Portuguese colonial spaces in Africa, however, these changes would not occur until the early 20th century, thus resulting in the conflation of the narratives of colonization, territorial occupation, and modernization. However, this design is frequently at odds with the superposition of the railway line and the commercial tracks historically used for the trade of enslaved human beings, as was the case with the Katanga-Benguela Railway in Angola. In this paper, I examine three travelogues written between 1922 and 1933 by British travelers in Angola- Through Angola, A Coming Colony, by Colonel J. C. B. Statham, London 1922; Angolan Sketches, by Alexander Barns, London 1928; and A Fossicker in Angola, by Malcolm Burr, London 1933. Reconstructing their journeys, I intend to explore the tensions between text and photography as they shape colonial relationships.

Keywords : Angola; Benguela Railway; travel writing; colonialism; temporalities; speed.

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