April 24, 2024

On Wednesday, April 17 Prof. Nicola Cooney and Pablo Guarín (G2) welcomed award-winning Portuguese photographer João Pina to Princeton to present his latest book project, Tarrafal.

João Pina presenting his work

Tarrafal was a concentration camp in Cabo Verde, a former Portuguese colony off the western African coast, to which Portuguese and African political prisoners were sent by the Portuguese fascist regime ruled by António Oliveira Salazar during the longest dictatorship in western Europe. During the more than 30 years the camp operated, Tarrafal became known as the camp of the slow death.

The robust audience included students who had been to the site during last summer's program in Portugal and Cabo Verde, as well as many who will be visiting it this June. This summer the group will be engaging in a creative visual workshop led by Pablo Guarín, who will be revisiting the camp to continue his research on sites of horror and architectures of memory.

"I found João Pina's presentation on Tarrafal extremely interesting. His reflections on the different and often divergent memories of Tarrafal—including those of Portuguese political captives, Angolan dissidents, Cabo Verdean locals, and tourists—provided important scaffolding for our upcoming trip. I am particularly interested in learning more about Tarrafal during the Colonial Wars, as well as the way in which the Salazar regime is remembered today in mainland Portugal. I was surprised to learn during our conversation that very little has been done in Portugal to remember the horrors of the dictatorship and the colonial era, so I am looking forward to exploring the ongoing efforts to shed light on these aspects of Portuguese history during the program." Harrison Fintz '26.

"I visited Tarrafal last summer (2024) through the Princeton in Portugal-Cabo Verde program; it was a surreal experience. João Pina's presentation

students a professor listening to a lecture sitting in front of a chalk board

 on his book brought up my memories and impressions of Tarrafal but added so many new questions and complexities regarding Tarrafal's effect on its prisoners and reception by the general public today. The Portuguese department at Princeton always seems to do this to me; I can revisit a topic several times, and each time I get more invested in it as I realize there are angles I didn't consider and nuances I didn't see the previous time. I really enjoyed this event; I learned a lot more about what I thought I already knew." Rena Feng '26.