Imperial Cryptonomy: Colonial Specters and Portuguese Exceptionalism in Isabela Figueiredo's "Caderno de Memórias Coloniais"




This essay proposes a reading of Isabela Figueiredo’s Caderno de Memórias Coloniais, namely its relation to Portugal’s contemporary exceptionalist narrative concerning its imperial past, part of what Miguel Vale de Almeida has called “right-wing multiculturalism.” As Figueiredo has stated in interviews, her memoires aim to confront and interrupt how Portuguese colonialism is signified in the postcolonial metropolis. Through the theoretical frameworks of cryptonomy and spectrality, I aim to map Figueiredo’s political project as the disentangling of the various layers of imperial narrativization regarding race, gender, class, and metropolitan privilege.