Presidential The Wiriyamu Massacre in African Colonial Historiography

AHA Session 57
Friday, January 6, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Mile High Ballroom 3A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh
A Village Named Wiriyamu
Peter Pringle, former foreign correspondent, London Sunday Times, and author
Mass Violence on a Continental Scale: Wiriyamu and the Historian's Positionality in Studying Atrocities in Colonial Africa
Brett Jordan Schmoll, California State University, Bakersfield and Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School
Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh

Session Abstract

Two tectonic events signaled the end of the Portuguese empire in colonial Mozambique: the massacre at Mueda, which presaged the beginning of colonial mass violence, in which women played a key, albeit unrecognized, role of armed resistance; and the atrocities at Wiriyamu, which spelled the end of Portugal’s stay in Mozambique, a few months after the death of a key perpetrator of that atrocity at the hands of women guerrilla fighters. Yet both the scope of the narrative and our level of experiencing these events both as historians and sentient observers, remain, epistemologically contentious and empirically understudied. Given its historic importance therefore, this session proposes to tackle five wide-ranging questions: how was Wiriyamu revealed as a truth unknown? What place does this massacre have in the annals of mass violence and their narratives in colonial Africa? What role did women play in this story and beyond? Where does the narrative stand today? And what contribution does Wiryamu make to advance the field of forensic historiography?
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