Launch of photo exhibition: “Portugal in the First World War” in Library Auditorium

Posted on January 01, 2018

The Modern European Languages (MEL) Department at the University of Pretoria (UP), assisted by the Department of Library Services (DLS), organized a month-long exhibition in the Library, entitled “Portugal in the First World War”. It consisted of oversized screens with wartime photographs portraying aspects of World War 1 in particular, against the broader background of the world at war.

The wartime photos on large screens constituted a travelling exhibition, which subsequently moved to a different location.

Co-collaborators with the MEL Department, and sponsors for the launch function, were the Camões Institute and the Portuguese Embassy in Pretoria.

DLS identified and displayed relevant library material. Rare books from the Library’s Special Collections section were displayed, including a book of historical maps of the world. Materials on Portugal in the First World War, Portuguese seafarers and Portuguese involvement in Africa were also displayed.

At the launch of the exhibition, which took place at 17:00 on 11 October 2017 in the Merensky 2 Library Auditorium, attendees were welcomed by all the collaborating entities, then treated to an engaging and interesting lecture by Dr Nisa Paleker from the UP Historical and Heritage Studies Department.

Dr Paleker’s lecture covered three facets. She highlighted the causes of the First World War. Secondly, she reminded the audience of the various nations’ conflicting interests in Africa at that time, and their various existing levels of influence in the continent. Finally, she talked about the tremendous value of photographs for historical study. The fact that photographs can raise new questions – and, are open to interpretation, depending on the observer’s viewpoint – was stressed.

Dr Carlos Gomes da Silva from the Portuguese Embassy subsequently mentioned to the audience various political realities that made up Portuguese history and that influenced Portuguese policies, contributing to a nuanced picture.

Afterwards attendees were able to study the wartime images at leisure, after having partaken of tasty Portuguese snacks and wine, served courtesy of the Portuguese Embassy and the CAMÕES, Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, IP.

Interested parties visiting the exhibition found leaflets and flyers about Portuguese history, culture and language.

Carla Valente de Abreu from the MEL Department is to be congratulated on a successful launch and exhibition. Thanks to all in the Merensky 2 Library who assisted in making the launch event and exhibition a success!


- Author Adrienne Warricker

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