Mapping the sociohistorical context of Portugal's First Modernism

Project coordinated by Steffen Dix

Broadly speaking, literary modernism is the attempt to represent or respond to the changing conditions of modern life which include mainly accelerated industrialization, pluralisation of the social world, political instability, the appearance of new ideas in philosophy and profound changes in the religious field during the first decades of the 20th century. The publication, at the end of March 1915, of the first issue of the literary magazine Orpheu is considered as the cradle of the First Portuguese Modernism. In recent years, several excellent studies on Portuguese Modernism have appeared which contemplate the typical modernist sensibility or aesthetics. Some of these studies have primarily focused on canonical modernist subjects in Portugal. Others – mostly centered on Fernando Pessoa – have underlined the techniques and particularities of modernist works, such us fragmentation, fluidity of consciousness, plurality or heresy.

These critical approaches remain valid and able to give a wide-ranging overview of some of the key attitudes shared by the main figures of Portuguese and other European Modernisms. Nevertheless, there is a lack of studies directly addressing the historical, cultural and political context of Portuguese Modernism, which can provoke misinterpretations concerning its particularities, and which generally impedes an understanding of modernism as a multifaceted phenomenon. Consequently, this also hinders a comparative analysis between different forms of European Modernism. Therefore, this research project aims to undertake a systematic mapping of the specific sociocultural and historical background of the First Portuguese Modernism and its transnational relationships – mainly in and around 1915. This exploratory research will supply the starting point for a digital edition and archive of the Portuguese modernist magazines carried out in a subsequent stage. In this sense, the project will provide new ways of researching the modernist period, directly showing the relationship between art and society in the first decades of the 20th century, and giving contemporary readers a concrete idea how modernist periodicals were experienced in their own time.

This intention is strongly linked to recent developments in social sciences where modernity is the main object of research, and indirectly to the end of the euphoric reception of postmodernism in the 1990s which provoked a reconceptualization of the term modernism as a multidimensional concept. Furthermore, traditional sociological theory of modernization lost its plausibility and a new trend in social sciences emphasizes the diversity of modern societies, recognizing that modernization is not a homogenizing process. Modern societies are showing diverse historical trajectories and sociocultural contexts, and current sociological theory speaks therefore of multiple modernities or varieties of modernity, trying to learn more about the significant differences between these societies. This change of sociological paradigm had an indirect, but important impact on literary or cultural theory. Nowadays, it is impossible to speak of a singular form of modernism and we have to recognize that a local (or even personal) modernism always depends on different political, cultural (or philosophical) and religious factors which vary from place to place.

The examination of the relationship between the intellectual, historical, political and religious milieu (both Portuguese and international) in and around 1915 and the modernist production of that time (mainly in the Orpheu) will offer a renewed understanding of the local or geo-cultural particularities of the First Portuguese Modernism. At the same time, the project tries to go beyond the national perspective and aims to recognize the transnational correlations of the First Portuguese Modernism. Despite knowing that Pessoa and Sá-Carneiro initially planned to call the First Portuguese Modernist magazine Europa, we have relatively little information about the artistic relationships of the Orpheu members with their contemporaries elsewhere, e.g. Pessoa’s paradigmatic rapport with English Imagism or Vorticism in London, or the typological affinities of some Orpheu members with Italian and French avant-garde movements in Paris.

To sum up, the project aims to connect systematically the Portuguese Modernism of the Orpheu with its concrete historical context in an attempt to portray the emergence of a local modernism out of the background of its own sociocultural conditions, and to supply a solid base for a subsequent digitization of the Portuguese modernist magazines (in collaboration with leading modernist periodicals web projects). Simultaneously, the project emphasizes the multidimensionality or heterogeneity of modernisms, revising the predominant core/periphery model of modernist studies, highlighting the singularity of Portuguese Modernism and promoting comparative studies in this field.

South Atlantic Media Groups: Singularities of Lusophone Modernity

Project coordinated by Rita Figueiras

In the last three decades, besides dismantling state intervention in the media, and the liberalisation, deregulation and marketization of the sector (Murdock and Golding, 1999:118), we have also seen increasing concentration and the transnationalisation of the forms of ownership, with the creation of large multi-sector conglomerates. These corporations have blurred the differences between national media systems (McQuail,2003) by taking a dominant role in the production and distribution of content (Hardy,2008), and they have led to the reduction of the heterogeneity of international media supply (Thompson,1998). Despite the clear trend towards the greater homogenization of Western media systems, as highlighted by Albarran and Chan-Olmsted (1998:15), the political, economic, geographic and cultural specificities of the media markets remain relevant. The seminal study by Dan Hallin and Paolo Mancini (2004) states precisely this, through a typing of media systems based on geocultural variables. The three proposed models simultaneously provide homogeneity among a set of countries and heterogeneity to Western media geography (2004:80-6).

In this project, we use the polarized pluralist model to demonstrate that this model, by resulting from a generalisation that aims to set it in opposition to the other two models established in the work of 2004, has made the specificity and uniqueness of the media system in Portugal and Brazil void, ignoring in particular the operations of media companies in the Portuguese-speaking world, were we also include Angola, as well as the centrality of those operations in network for the business development of the media groups. Thus, the project aims to fill this gap by a comprehensive and comparative analysis, in a diachronic and synchronic manner, of the economy of the media whose business and influence underpin a Lusophone network in the South Atlantic. We consider that, due to its size and economic development (particularly Brazil and Angola), and not ignoring the Anglophone hegemony in the Western world (Tunstall,2008), the Portuguese-speaking geo-cultural space comprises a privileged area for the flourishing of transnational corporations, whose specificity deserves to be highlighted in an in-depth study.

This project is thus focused on analysing the Portuguese-speaking media companies of the Portugal-Brazil-Angola axis, since these are the three national markets that have shown the largest capacity to invest in the creation and acquisition of media companies aspiring to operate in the transnational Lusophone area. The research is founded on the intersection between Political Economy of the Media and Media and Democracy Studies and it intends to develop an empirical research that articulates media ownership with news production. Considering that the news and also media companies simultaneously reflect and promote a particular political culture, it is a pioneering study with an innovative component, consisting of: (1) the study of the economic groups that are the major players in the production and distribution of content in the Portugal-Brazil-Angola triangle, and (2) the comparative study of the editorial line of the media held by these groups at significant moments of the corporations’ life.

We intend to, based on these objectives, characterise what we understand to be the uniqueness of the media companies that operate in this geo-cultural space, which we call the Portuguese-speaking South Atlantic model. Among the peculiar characteristics of these markets we find that the biggest companies are owned by the same political-economic elites since the first decades of the 20th century. Hence, we consider that the specificity of the South Atlantic model can be explained by the contradictory characteristics of Lusophone societies. On the one hand, they are dynamic, modern and opened, and, on the other hand, static, with low mobility and difficult access to decision centers. We put as hypothesis that media groups, their expansion strategies and constraints reflect and are caused by the duplicity and the paradox nature of power in Lusophone culture.

The research that relies on the collaboration of a team in Brazil, and on James Curran as Consultant, can be classified as an Exploratory Research Project as it will contribute to creating and testing a new model for analysing Portuguese-speaking media systems. We believe that this is extremely important since it is essential for well-reasoned discussion on the impact of forms of ownership on the editorial line of media, the degree of freedom of the press and the diversity of voices in the public space (Norris,2009; Couldry,2010). Identifying how the different components of the media articulate as a financial business and democratic institution will contribute to a more in-depth knowledge of the political culture of the Lusophone world and also add complexity to the scientific debate on non-Anglo Saxon media and cultural systems.

A Critique of Singularity: the Catastrophic Event and the Rhetoric of Representation

Project Coordinated by Isabel Capeloa Gil

"A Critique of Singularity: the Catastrophic Event and the Rhetoric of Representation" is an international project based at CECC in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Historical Anthropology at the Free University of Berlin and the Kokoro Research Centre at the University of Kyoto, with an interdisciplinary scope in the humanities and social sciences. The project is sponsored by FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) and will be carried out over a period of three years, ending in 2013.

The critique of singularity wishes to challenge the narrative of exceptionality at the roots of national figurations of disaster and understand the role played by representation in the processing of catastrophe in modernity. Catastrophic singularity on the representational level is connected to complex power structures that link, amongst others, nationhood, identity, class, religion and is indeed a hoax. Notwithstanding the time-space contingency of the event, the specific materiality of the medium of the representation and the creative uniqueness of the author or medium, the hypothesis is that there are rhetorical figurations that may be validated across different historical and cultural locations and tested in representative case studies. The main problem the project will tackle is, thus, twofold. First, it seeks to understand how societies and cultures deal with disaster and the rhetorical means they resort to in order to represent it. Second, how does culture, the media and the arts deal with the perception and the processing of catastrophe, what kind of social knowledge does this process produce and how does it contribute to the sustainable development of societies. This is a broad subject and touches upon esthetical, cultural, political, medial and anthropological issues, which means it can only be properly addressed from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Research will be done using qualitative methodologies, from heuristic research to empirical-deductive approaches and critical discourse analysis. The research team from the Free University of Berlin will further add direct participant observation.


Project Coordinated by Filomena Capucho

Intercomprehension is a form of plurilingual communication in which everyone understands the language of others and speaks the language he knows. CECC has worked on Intercomprehension in several EU-financed projects.

EU projects 2011 – 2013 coordinated by CECC - UCP

  1. CINCO - 2011-1-PT1-LEO05-08609
  2. INTERMAR - 519001 – LLP – 2011 – PT – KA2 – KA2MP


CINCO aimed at integrating the intercomprehension approach to the learning of foreign languages (IC) in the vocational continuous training of workers in associations. The network of IC specialists and the network of associations created modular training materials to be used in a system of blended learning.The project is still under final evaluation process.


INTERMAR offered innovative practices in foreign language learning within a maritime context. By developing intercomprehension (IC) processes, INTERMAR provided maritime professionals in Europe with IC strategies that assist language learning during initial or in-service training in the Navy or Merchant Marine. The project has been included in the EACEA data base of “best practices”.

For 2014 – 2017, CECC is preparing the following applications, as coordinating institution:

TOFIE – a KA2 Knowledge Alliance of 17 partners. The main aim of TOFIE is to respond to the needs of language learning in the International Entrepreneurship context through the creation, development and sustained implementation of an innovative Advanced Training Course on Languages for SMEs present or future entrepreneurs through close collaboration between Universities, Adult Education Centres, professional business associations and Chambers of Commerce.

REDINTER + - a KA2 Strategic Partnership gathering 49 partners. The main aim of Redinter 2 is to continue the work of the network REDINTER (2008 – 2011) , so as to ensure full dissemination of the concept of intercomprehension in Europe and provide the necessary tools for its implementation in formal and non-formal education, in national and institutional diversified contexts.

For 2014 – 2017, CECC is a partner in the following applications:

Intermar for All – a KA2 Strategic partnership aiming at training the teachers of Maritime Academies in order to use the Intermar course in their institutions. The project will be coordinated by the Antwerp Maritime Academy (BE);

Intermar + - a KA2 Strategic partnership aiming at training the teachers of Naval Academies in order to use the Intermar course in their institutions. The project will be coordinated by the Naval Academy of Constanta (RO);

Intermob – a KA2 Strategic partnership aiming at creating a specialized training pathway for the preparation of the participants in Training mobility activities by developing a programme using intercomprehension tools as a vehicle to improve communication and intercultural skills. The project will be coordinated by the VET association INCOMA (ES);

iJob - a KA2 Strategic partnership aiming at involving teachers and trainers in a specific employability training pathway at European level, adding new perspectives and exploiting/disseminating successful European experiences in the field. The project will be coordinated by the VET association IFOA (IT).

Conflict and Colaboration - Presences and Representations of the Overseas Chinese in the Ibero-Asian Societies (16th-19th centuries)

Project by Paulo Jorge Pinto

The Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia has sparked the interest of the scientific community for being an important issue to fully understand the relations between this area and China with relevant effects in the contemporary political, economic and social framework. The role played by the Chinese or Chinese-origin communities raises debate and had a significant impact in the formation of the national identity in several Southeast Asian countries. It is an important factor in the global context of Asia, bridging the new “Asian tigers” with PRC. It also has a remarkable historical dimension, because the migration of Chinese people to Southeast Asia is a secular phenomenon with different phases and rhythms throughout the centuries.

This project tries to grasp some aspects of this phenomenon in a certain timeframe and scope: to analyse the presence, the impact and the relations between the overseas Chinese groups and Ibero-Asian “colonial” societies, from the 16th to the 19th century. This historical process was marked by both conflict and collaboration, depending upon different and sometimes conflicting interests in several scenarios. A scope of this project is to perceive different forms of representation and self-representation on this presence and consequent relations beyond the balance of economic, political and social tensions involved.

The plan includes four main items. The first one is about the definition of the most important guidelines of the general framework involving the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia and the specific conditions of each scenario. The second one is dedicated to the Philippines and to the Overseas Chinese presences in colonial Filipino society and the way they swung between integration and social exclusion. The key role played by the Filipino Chinese (Sangleys) on the prosperity of Manila as a global city-port adds significant relevance to this issue. The third item is about the contrasting function the Chinese played in the Portuguese structures and presence – formal and informal – in Southeast Asia, in three particular places, Melaka, the Moluccas and Timor. Finally, Macao and the way it connected with Chinese networks and Portuguese-Asian partnerships in the South China Sea and Southeast Asia and its intermediary role on external relations of China, compose the final item.

An extensive use of a wide range of available materials – mainly studies, articles and secondary and published sources – is expected, in order to provide a broader view of historical information. It is assumed as a working priority the focus on interpreting or re-interpreting available (i.e., published) materials, rather than archive or manuscript ones, but access to the document collections on the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (Lisbon) and other archives is not out of range.

The project will be hosted by the Research Centre for Communication and Culture (School of Human Sciences, Catholic University of Portugal) and framed in one of the existing research lines in the Centre, "Culture and Conflict" (in specific, the sub-project "Memory Transfers between East and West"), and the development of the research work will be tuned accordingly.

1. China and the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia; General historical and geographic frame of Ming and Qing China; the Overseas Chinese in Se Asia: ports, networks and groups.

2. The colonial Filipino society (16th-19th centuries); the Sangleys: origins, economic role and social tensions; colonial dynamics, integration and exclusion strategies and Filipino identity issues.

3. Melaka, the Moluccas and Timor – Portuguese formal and informal presences, spatial dynamics and the Chinchéus (Hokkien) in the Portuguese-Asian networking partnership; the Chinese in Timor, from sandalwood to a colonial approach.

4. Macao, port of China. A backdoor to China and an output door to Chinese migration. Fujianese competition and regional balances.

Friends will be friends? Personal communities and the role of friendship in times of uncertainty

Project by Verónica Policarpo

Which is the role of friendship in Portuguese contemporary society, namely in personal communities, understood as the active and meaningful, even though distant personal ties, considered to be central in the life of individuals? The “de-standardization” and diversification of the life-course that have been pointed out as main characteristics of post-industrial societies place individuals before social challenges that will be as difficult to overcome as more precarious the contexts in which they occur. As individuals face specific “social proofs” or tests along their life-course, which is the role of personal communities, namely friends, in the surpassing of such proofs and subsequent biographical reconstruction? What is the importance of friendship in the interpersonal networks of mutual help, of both material and emotional nature? How does it articulate itself with traditional “social networks”, such as those based on kinship? Which kind of transformations does it imply in the organization of private and personal life? In order to answer these questions, it will be necessary, firstly, to answer to another crucial one: what is a friend? How is it defined, between idealised representations and effective practices?

After unpacking the meanings of friends and friendship, the project further explores the practices: how is friendship made in everyday life, through daily practices, routines, exceptional events and rituals. And the memories: how are friends and friendships remembered, linking individual and collective memory and producing a sense of belonging. Using facet methodology (Mason, 2011), the project explores the subject of contemporary friendship from different perspectives and methodological approaches, among which: the meanings of friendship (survey and in-depth interviews), the configurations of personal communities (in-depth-interviews), mobility and long distance friendships (online and email interviews), the role of media and social networks (netnography, in-depth interviews, surveys), life-course transitions and the reconfiguration of personal communities (in-depth interviews, ethnography).

A colecção de teatro de António José de Oliveira

Project by Isabel Pinto

Do vasto panorama teatral do século XVIII, emerge a figura de António José de Oliveira, copista de mais de duzentos textos de teatro, entre 1780 e 1797 (considerando apenas os textos datados), conservados em 34 volumes na Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal.

A maioria dos textos desta colecção é traduções/ adaptações, a que se associam autores espanhóis, franceses e italianos, ressalvando-se um inglês e um suíço: Alvaro Cubillo de Aragón, Apostolo Zeno, Carlo Goldoni, Diderot, Edward Young, Filippo Livigni, Giovanni Guarini, Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, Jean Racine, Molière, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Pietro Metastasio, Salomon Gessner, Voltaire, entre outros. Quanto a autores/ tradutores portugueses, a resenha é mais curta e compreende nomes como Alexandre António de Lima, António Ferreira, António José de Paula, António José da Silva, Domingos dos Reis Quita, Francisco José Freire e Jerónima Luísa da Silveira.

Os géneros que a compõem são igualmente numerosos e abrangem desde o pastoral e o histórico, passando pela ópera, comédia, drama, burleta, tragédia até à farsa e à tragicomédia.

Considerando que tão faustosa variedade cabe nas duas últimas décadas do século dezoito, com o Teatro de São Carlos, a partir de 1793, a ombrear, em oferta teatral, com outros teatros da capital, como o do Bairro Alto e o da Rua dos Condes, esta colecção da Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal oferece um contributo importante para aferir da vitalidade da indústria teatral portuguesa na segunda metade do século XVIII.

Nota de Intenção

Normas de Transcrição

O conteúdo visual deste projeto conta com a colaboração da investigadora Gisela Canelhas.

Os textos desta coleção podem ser encontrados no Repositório: