How has the Colonial War affected the present economic and institutional development of countries such as Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau? Has the intensity of the war for independence created the conditions for the conflict affecting the Cabo Delgado region?

Wars have devastating consequences and have a difficult impact to calculate in all their dimensions. Henrique Pita Barros, PhD student in economics at Brown University, wants to go beyond what has been done in the research field and is in Portugal collecting data to measure the long-term consequences of conflicts such as the Colonial War.

Through the FLAD/Torre do Tombo Grant,Henrique Pita Barros is collecting information at Torre do Tombo to build an innovative database that will mark the investigation made about this conflict, both in Portugal and abroad.

“I’m focusing on an area that is called development economics, comparative development. Right now I have a FLAD grant doing research at Torre do Tombo, as part of a project I am now developing that aims to understand the long-term impacts of the Colonial War, both in the former Portuguese colonies and in the development of Portugal.” – Henrique Pita Barros

The project wants to complement work already developed by other areas of academia and, with the information gathered, help to understand what consequences the Colonial War had on the development of these countries and to understand whether, in areas where the conflict is more intense and prolonged, there are more unstable conditions for the future, both in economic terms and in the development of democracy and its basic institutions.

Why the Torre do Tombo?

The researcher explained that the documentation stored in Torre do Tombo allows to collect data from different areas, important for a deeper look at the region. Among them are maps for economic analysis, information from PIDE (Portuguese International and State Defense Police), and the former colonies themselves.

“In Torre do Tombo we have documents ranging from the origin of Portugal, but also includes a lot of information from the 20th century that comes from the former Portuguese colonies. This information includes demographic data, PIDE information reports, maps that can be used in economic analysis (…). All this information is quite rich and will allow to build a completely new database that can mark the empirical research that is being done about the Colonial War, both in Portugal and abroad.” – Henrique Pita Barros

It is too early to reach conclusions, but Henrique Pita Barros and his colleagues in the project “Colonial War: Origins, Causes and Long-Term Impact – A Quantitative Approach” have two objectives that can be very important for policymakers.

The first is to understand what long-term consequences may have originated from the Colonial War, creating this model with a more empirical and modern techniques economic analysis, which will complement the work already done by Portuguese and foreign Historians, Sociologists, and Anthropologists.

Secondly, to understand the decision-making mechanisms and economic mechanisms of the past that allow us to look into the future, that is, what consequences the wars fought in the present will have in the future.

“This work may give some clues to the problems that may be caused by war. We can help identify these problems. Based on this, policymakers can tackle these problems and solve them before they become persistent throughout the ages.” – Henrique Pita Barros

Good job Henrique!