Lancaster Interdisciplinary Research Seminar / Dynamics of Memories Research Seminar

Date: 11 March 2009 Time: 5.00 pm

Mariana Pinheiro (Manchester)

"VocÍ estŠ aqui" (you are here):

re-presenting the Portuguese Imperial adventure

Wednesday 11 March, 5pm, IAS MR2

This paper is based on research I am conducting for my PhD on Visual Representations of National Myths in Portuguese State-Sponsored Events.Renan famously observes how forgetfulness and historical error are essential to the creation of a nation. Collective memory is necessarily selective, emphasizing certain features while suppressing others. The focus of this paper is Expo '98, the last world fair of the 20th century in Lisbon under the theme "The Oceans: a Heritage for the Future". Contemporary concepts of portugalidade/portugueseness are commonly linked with a mystical past governed by the empire and the sea. I will show how Expo '98 represents the Portuguese imperial adventure as a quest for knowledge and cultural interchange. Portugal is rendered as a pioneer, a builder of the oceans and a leader for the future. Simultaneously, the Other "discovered" by the Portuguese is condemned to oblivion. The Lusotropicalist discourse is recycled (Almeida 2004), still reproducing its key ideas: the absence of racism in the Portuguese, their special empathy towards other people and their deep Christian fraternity. I will examine how Expo '98 celebrates the Portuguese as a people who gave, who discovered, who reached out, this is, a people who took action upon others and, while the official discourse is one of cultural dialogue, in fact there was/is little reciprocity. The Other (Jew, Arab, Chinese) who contributed with its technology or science to this maritime adventure is forgotten or dismissed as is the African, many of whom built the grounds for Expo '98. With an obsession regarding the future and the country's role in it, Expo '98 reformulates Portugal's history to display a country whose glorious past was all about scientific knowledge instead of commercial enterprise and religion.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Mercedes Camino, Patrick Hagopian, Nayanika Mookherjee (Sociology), John Strachan, David Sugarman (Law), Ruth Wodak (Linguistics and English Language)

Organising departments and research centres: Dynamics of Memories, European Languages and Cultures, History, Institute for Advanced Studies