Accepted paper:

Islamic scenographies: ritual, heritage and museography in Mértola festival


Maria Cardeira da Silva (CRIA NOVA FCSH)

Paper short abstract:

Mértola, in the southern Portugal, is an icon of Portuguese Islamophilia and a stage to exhibit political and religious projects, sometimes contradictory. The Islamic festival which is held every two years overshadow all the paradoxes with its orientalistic atmosphere and scenography.

Paper long abstract:

Mértola, a small and impoverished village in the southern Portugal, became an icon of Portuguese Islamophilia since a regional and developmentist project grounded on its multi layered heritage - led by a charismatic left winged archaeologist - was promoted in the following years of the Carnations Revolution in 1974. Every two years Mértola - which is labelled as a Museum Village, and now applying for UNESCO nomination - held a so called «Islamic Festival». At this festival it becomes clear how different political, religious and economic projects converged along the years into a tiny, but symbolically thick site, making use of different displays and scenographies, in different stages, to exhibit their ideologies often contradictory. But the Islamic festival overshadow all the paradoxes under its orientalist atmosphere and spectalularity. The festival is held since 2001. In this paper, I will take both its chronological and spatial dimension to evince the way different agents, with different projects - academic, political and/or religious - built their stages and play they roles in a heritage arena which is nowadays framed by an aesthetic cosmopolitism of consumption.

panel D06
Religious heritage spaces: disputes and convergences