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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Contesting the past in Angolan politics
Author:Pearce, JustinISNI
Year:2015
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Volume:41
Issue:1
Pages:103-119
Language:English
Geographic term:Angola
Subjects:memory
national liberation struggles
government policy
Link:https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2015.991189
Abstract:This article considers the politics of memory and memorialisation in Angola today in the light of existing scholarship on this theme elsewhere in southern Africa. The author examines young anti-government activists' preoccupation with history, and argues that this can be understood only with reference to the MPLA government's own renewed concern with history since the end of the civil war in 2002, and its attempts to recast the nationalist narratives of the pre-1990 era. Since 2002, the government has sought to contain the threat posed by democratic opposition by claiming an exclusive role for the MPLA as the defender of the nation and by silencing critical discussion of events from the one-party era: most notably the mass killings of May 1977. For opposition activists, the assertion of an alternative history serves not so much to attract the support of others as to provide evidence of the government's dishonesty, and thus to reinforce the activists' belief in the rightness of their own cause. As has happened elsewhere in the region, the Angolan government's insistence on asserting a particular view of history does little to gather support, and serves above all to open up a space for contestation. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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