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Accepted Paper:

Singing among ruins of an authoritarian past  


António Medeiros (ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon, CEI-IUL)

Paper short abstract:

State's imprint in popular culture should is to be questioned In Portugal. I take the results of a research on "desafio songs", a raunchy genre censored by past ethnographers, as a motto to question the marks left by 48 years of authoritarianism.

Paper long abstract:

A right-wing authoritarian regime endured in Portugal between 1926 and 1974, self-styled as "Estado Novo" after 1933. In the next two decades the regime was able to impose new forms of ethnographic representation on a national, regional and local scale, mainly based on modernist styling of the works of the pioneer generations of fin-de-siècle ethnographers. In the 1930s, a decade marked by an intense state propaganda in Portugal, the nationalization of the masses proceeded at fast pace, and was endowed with unprecedented resources. Then, a variety of book editions, contests, processions, performances, films, artisanal objects - and also products of mechanical - proposed new ethnographic representations, and conveyed quite effectively, inter alia, new cultural meanings and new senses of belonging. Today, we can check the effectiveness of those authoritarian projects and how they serve petitions of belonging which became hegemonic, especially at a local and regional scale. In the recent years, Portuguese anthropologists - trained in in departments that emerged after 1974 - systematically find the course of their researches the traces of the state's autocratic action in the production of popular cultures, a sort of ruins that can be questioned with greater or lesser reflexive awareness. I take the first results of an ongoing research on "desafio songs" in the north of Portugal, a pugnacious and raunchy genre invariably censored by past ethnographers, as a motto to interrogate the imprint of the authoritarian State in present day representation Portuguese culture in the north of the country.

Panel P141
Deferred horizons: Whose anthropology is this?