Portugal's empire in the wake of WWI: Coping with the challenges of pan-africanism and the league of nations

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In the aftermath of the Great War, similar to other colonial powers, Portugal was under greater pressure to meet the requirements of the more 'enlightened' concept of imperial rule. Even if Woodrow Wilson's rhetoric regarding the condition of the colonial populations was quickly perceived as deeply flawed by nationalist and proto-nationalist leaders across the colonial world, the emergence of the League of Nations was a significant development in the new international landscape. In the 1920s, these new developments became the focal point for the critics of the colonial status quo. This paper sets out to explore various facets of this new chapter of European imperialism. It will start by assessing the challenges met by Portugal at the Peace Conference and the compromises that came out of it. It will then examine the agency displayed by some creole leaders from Portugal's empire who managed to forge connections with the Pan Africanist movement, as well as explore the ambiguities of their relationship with the Portuguese authorities. Additionally, it will also examine the challenges posed by the League of Nations in the fields in which Portugal's 'civilizing' record appeared more dubious (above all, matters pertaining to labour relations).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-152
Number of pages24
JournalE-Journal of Portuguese History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Creole Elites
  • League of Nations
  • Pan Africanism
  • Paris Peace Conference
  • Portuguese colonialism


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