1st Edition

Fortifications, Post-colonialism and Power
Ruins and Imperial Legacies

ISBN 9781138260672
Published November 22, 2016 by Routledge
174 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

For more than 500 years, the Portuguese built or adapted fortifications along the coasts of Africa, Asia and South America. At a macro scale, mapping this network of power reveals a gigantic territorial and colonial project. Forts articulated the colonial and the metropolitan, and functioned as nodes in a mercantile empire, shaping early forms of capitalism, transforming the global political economy, and generating a flood of images and ideas on an unprecedented scale. Today, they can be understood as active material legacies of empire that represent promises, dangers and possibilities. Forts are marks and wounds of the history of human violence, but also timely reminders that buildings never last forever, testimonies of the fluidity of the material world. Illustrated by case studies in Morocco, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and Kenya, this book examines how this global but chameleonic network of forts can offer valuable insights into both the geopolitics of Empire and their postcolonial legacies, and into the intersection of colonialism, memory, power and space in the postcolonial Lusophone world and beyond.



João Sarmento is an Assistant Professor at the Geography Department, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal and Researcher at the Centre for Geographical Studies, University of Lisbon, Portugal ('Tourism, Culture and Space' Group).


'João Sarmento is a fantastic story-teller. This book is well written and presents in a very pleasant form an original excursion into the complexities of postcolonial geographies. Proceeding with much finesse, João Sarmento presents a fascinating analysis of the postcolonial geographies that tourism and Western Capitalism are building all over the World.' Paul Claval, Université de Paris-Sorbonne, France 'This book takes an exciting tour around fortifications and settlements comprising a Portguese "archipelago of empire", one with global reach but here explored chiefly in its African context. Juxtaposing archival research and ethnographic encounter, the author unfolds a bewildering set of entangled tales about imperialists, navigators, pirates, slaves, tourists, architects, planners, dictators and enterpreneurs, in which the ruins of old (geo-political) empires become reworked through the deeply tragic follies of new (geo-economic) "empires". The book is also about memory - about forgetting, celebrating and inventing - where it is the crucial silences of today's fort-as-museum that are arguably the most instructive. Furthermore, the book serves as a challenging mediation on key failures of the postcolonial, and on how a postcolonial geography might now respond.' Chris Philo, University of Glasgow, UK 'This is a very welcome contribution to the debate on the spatialities of the postcolonial. Concerned with the material and immaterial cultural geographies of Empire, Sarmento shows how Portuguese fortifications across three continents today represent an intriguing and complicated heritage which well deserves this brilliant investigation. A rewarding read.' Claudio Minca, Wageningen University, The Netherlands and Royal Holloway, University of London, UK 'Overall the text is a successful initial foray into the significance of fortifications within Africa and their role in aiding an understanding of the perpetuation of colonialist ways of seeing, providing an in-d