"Study with doubt and carry on through Faith" - Agronomic research during the Estado Novo
João Pedro Rocha Joaquim
Paper short abstract:
The Estação Agronómica Nacional was an agricultural experiment station created in 1936, by the Estado Novo regime. It was intended to, through scientific means, modernise the Portuguese agriculture but its creation was the result of conflicting political, economic and academic visions.
Paper long abstract:
Since the 18th century Portugal's economic gap with the rest of Western Europe has been partially attributed to an inadequate agrarian structure and its inability of technical modernisation. By the late 19th century the creation of agronomic research institutions was part of several modernisation efforts attempted in order to exceed that perceived handicap. The Estado Novo (New State) regime, officially implemented in 1933, made renewed attempts to ameliorate this matter proposing further reforms. The Estação Agronómica Nacional (EAN / National Agronomic Station) was created in 1936 by initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture Rafael Duque, as part of a wide range of structural agro-economic reforms which emphasised the importance of scientific research. This initiative had both supporters who shared reformist ideas and detractors who opposed alterations to the status quo or considered the matter irrelevant. Science, particularly experimental research, was seen as essential for the economic development of the country and an independent institute, solely dedicated to agronomic research, was deemed more capable of achieving good results than higher education institutions. The dichotomy between basic and applied science was also an important matter of debate, which the EAN's first director, Professor António Sousa Câmara, a keen writer of science communication to the general public, would explore frequently. There was also a moral/ideological dimension of the work done at the experimental station where a determined set of values, as the importance of hard work or the dedication to the Nation, were encouraged.
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