The gender dimension of the Portuguese diaspora to South Africa is vastly under-researched. The stories of thousands of women who left mainland Portugal and Madeira to seek a better life after the Second World War have been left untold. These women were the backbone of a thriving Portuguese community and yet their experiences and contribution to narratives about the diaspora are largely undocumented or submerged.

burn-out  |\ˈbərn-ˌau̇t \ noun-verb

referring to a breakdown of the female body;

a corporeal refusal to perform duties, a demand for rest.

How To Read A Story About Burn-out is a research project about women’s work, migration and physical burn-out. It has been commissioned by Het Nieuwe Instituut and led by research fellow Natalie Dixon, with the assistance of Alice Azevedo. The research examines the experiences of women during the second-wave Portuguese diaspora to South Africa after World War II. Using my family photo archive as a narrative starting point, How to Read A Story About Burn-out challenges existing patriarchal stories about migration and European mythologies attached to finding a new life in “Africa”.