9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Visual Culture Building II, C4.06

The 1940 exhibition of the 'Portuguese world' in postcards. The Portuguese global in a lusocentric vision

Since the beginning, from History to Anthropology and from Sociology to Semiotics, Social Sciences have highlighted the close relationship between image and memory. Within the framework of the French tradition of socio-anthropology, which establishes the link between images and the shaping of social imaginaries, we propose to revisit the Portuguese World Exhibition, Lisbon, 1940.
Of the leading values of the Estado Novo, the Portuguese World Exhibition crowned the Foundation and Restoration of Independence Centennial enterprise, by celebrating eight centuries of independence (1140) and three centuries of re-conquered independence (1640), with reference, as well, to the forth centennial, representing the 'peek of the Empire' (1540). Centred not only on historical time, but also on 'present imperial space', following the medieval, imperial and brigantine trails, the Exhibition was a magnificent fulfilment of the 'spirit policy', preached in Portugal since 1932, depicting the 'Portuguese world' as a peaceful oasis, described, in the meantime, by Saint-Exupéry as a 'type of clear and sad paradise'.
The Exhibition is well-documented in illustrated postcards which have frozen the image of the whole set of local identities, from the North of Portugal to Timor, passing through America, Africa and Asia, while defining the global Portuguese of the first half of the 20th century. Every single cultural hue of this large Portuguese colonial village, from architecture to skin tone and to street names, are recorded in black and white on the back of postcards, during the golden age of this means of communication. We aim to examine, through socio-anthropological insight, these historical, architectural, geographic and ethnographic registers, by using a sample from the postcard collection published at the time of the Exhibition.