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Title: The most Portuguese village in Portugal: tradition in the age of its technical reproducibility
Author: Baptista, Tiago
Keywords: Ethnographic film
Portuguese Cinema
Cultural objectification
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Arhiv Republike Slovenije
Citation: Tiago Baptista, «The most Portuguese village in Portugal: tradition in the age of its technical reproducibility», in Nasko Kriznar (ed.), How do we visualize culture? Representations of Culture in the Light of Ethnographic Film (Ljubljana: Arhiv Republike Slovenije, 2006), 74-94.
Abstract: Ethnographic film is often associated with many European countries’ past as colonial powers and the way these countries used film to depict African, American and Asian territories and populations they once ruled. However, ethnographic film also has a European tradition of its own, closely interlaced with the history of ethnography and anthropology as autonomous sciences and with the desire of scholars to represent local, regional and national cultural identities. This paper presents a Portuguese attempt of this sort dating from 1938, when the authoritarian regime organized a national contest to determine which would be Portugal’s most “authentic” village – something other European countries also did. As part of this metonymic contribution to the construction of Portugal’s national identity as an agrarian utopia, a short documentary was shot, sponsored by the same official propaganda office that had organized the contest. In this film, the viewer’s gaze is made to coincide with the one of the national jury visiting the final selection of 12 villages and to whose benefit local scholars had organized all sorts of colourful peasant traditions hoping to cause the strongest impression. The film makes a strong case for the importance of ethnographic film as a relevant instance not only of the iteration of existing European national cultures, but also of the construction of so many of Europe’s national identities and traditions. Suffice to say that even today the village of “Monsanto”, which won the 1938 contest, is still referred to as “Portugal’s most Portuguese village”.
ISBN: 13978-961-6137-97-3
ISSN: 10961-6137-97-2
Appears in Collections:FCSH: IHC - Capítulos de livros internacionais

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