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Current research interests

  • Narratives in Motion: this is a monograph I am currently completing on the relations between journalism, modernism and cinema in 1920s Portugal. Each chapter focuses on a different event (a crime, a flight, a football match and a strike) and analyses the ways in which reporters tried to use modernist tropes to create modern narratives and shape early twentieth-century public perceptions.
  • Dancing Days: this is part of wider project to map and periodize the transformations in Portuguese culture after the 1974-75 Revolution. More specifically, I am trying to identify the main agents, mechanisms and events of a new audiovisual landscape in which TV and pop music became dominant in the public sphere. My initial hypothesis is that the emergence of this audivisual culture in Portugal will complete, already in the 1980s, the Cultural Revolution other European societies experienced in the 1960s as a combination of radical politics and pop culture. The latter will explode in Portuguese society in a context of profound depoliticization. Last year, I published a short article, “Um PA e uma Fender” about the anti-capitalist discourse in Portuguese rock in Imprópria n. 3:
  • Raw History: this can be seen as the other side of Dancing Days: how did radical artists and writers react to revolutionary defeat in a context of depoliticization in the late 1970s and 1980s? In fact, this was a moment of intense creativity in Portuguese cinema, literature, and theatre. Drawing from these three areas, I am trying to analyse how militant art coped with the experience of defeat, mourning and depoliticization by radically questioning both the historical moment and artistic mediation (or rather, the historical moment through artistic mediation). I made a first effort to understand this in “Thinking the Revolution in Alberto Seixas Santos’s Brandos Costumes and Gestos & Fragmentos” (article forthcoming in Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image.)
  • Revolutionary routines: ten years ago, I started a project with fellow historian António Louçã on oral history of the 1975-75 revolutionary process in Portugal. With more than twenty interviews with activists in different aspects of the Revolution (unions, occupations, students, feminist movements) these interviews open a whole new perspective on the period. In particular, personal testimonies with anonymous militants show how the Revolution staged all forms of social mobilization and political organization, and the constitution of revolutionary routines, i.e., everyday routines dedicated to historical transformation. I find this last aspect particularly promising in terms of research, as it seems to counter the idea of revolution as a moment of sudden disruption, and invites us to re-think our image of the everyday in capitalist societies historically and politically.
  • The Twentieth-Century: here, I am trying to think the twentieth century as a concept and, as such, as a challenge to historiography. In the last twenty years or so, historians (Eric Hobsbawm in The Age of Extremes), philosophers (Alain Badiou in Le Siècle, economists (Giovanni Arrighi in The Long Twentieth Century), art historians (Georges Didi-Huberman with his four volume L’Oeil de L’Histoire series and T.J. Clark in Farewell to an Idea), film scholars (Francesco Casetti in The Eye of the Century) and rock historians (Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century) worked, in different ways, on a definition of the twentieth-century less as a historical period than a historical concept and, accordingly, tried to think its historical representation and narratives. Drawing from these works, and from texts on historical narrative by Paul Ricoeur, Hayden White (the idea of “modernist event”), Fredric Jameson and Jacques Rancière, I am trying to think how the twentieth century can be given a specific historical narrative. I started exploring the topic a few years ago with a paper on modernism and historical narrative in Jameson and Rancière ("The Narrative of Historical Disagreement”). Next May, I will present a paper about the challenge of the twentieth-century to cultural history in a conference on historiography I am currently organizing in Lisbon.