The CHSC’s body of researchers – under both exclusive and non-exclusive dedication regimes – is organised into research groups according to the focus of activities. At present, the CHSC has four research groups:
- Cultural encounters and evasion
Cultures develop according to a dialectical process of encounters and mismatches, giving rise to complex identities. In being generated from off-centre perspectives, Portuguese history and culture have developed via dynamic avenues of connection and confrontation involving Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Most relevant for this process were the practices, creations, and representations of the peoples living in Portuguese territory and the territory of its colonies and the peoples maintaining links with Portugal and the Portuguese. Today’s context of unrestrained globalisation, in which cultural traits can vanish at local, regional and national levels, calls for the historical analysis of how different cultures were shaped and mutually influenced one another. Portugal’s sustained encounters with the rest of the world were not free from violence and destruction either. Hence, the group’s research engages with the scientific foundations provided by comparative, transnational and connected history, to focus on the following: religious conversion and the resulting acts of confrontation; social inclusion and exclusion, encompassing gender and ethnicity issues; mobility, migration, and their incidence; the recasting of European institutional, political and cultural models in other parts of the world, and resistance towards them.
- Local and regional heritage and identities
Knowledge of the past gives every region/community sharing a common historical fate the possibility of establishing its place in an increasingly globalised world, as well as disclosing its specific nature to an audience interested in their deepest roots. Empiric evidence supports the notion of premodernity transforming into postmodernity and that a sustainable future will be structured around an ecology of knowledge (Boaventura de Sousa Santos). Thus, it can be claimed that revisiting the past helps understand today’s regional imbalances and asymmetries, contributing to overcoming these issues toward a socially and economically sustainable future, grounded on local resources, including tourism potential. These premises provide a foundation for the research group to work towards the following: to acquire knowledge on tangible and intangible heritage assets, both natural and man-made, in support of sustainable development projects; to research traditional knowledge and popular culture; to analyse population dynamics against the historical backdrop; to identify the factors favourable or detrimental to development, and ways to overcome them; to place historical knowledge at the service of the community.
- Reimagining the historian’s craft
This research group examines the problems posed by the usage of historical sources, analyses comparatively dominant historiographical paradigms in interpreting both short and long time lapses (from the Middle Ages to the Contemporary Age), and investigates the role of leading historians and the “Schools” to which they belonged. Hence, the group’s activity encompasses several realms of knowledge, from the history of historiography to the more recently described topic of “historical culture”. This requires specific reflection on objects pertaining to the theory of history and historiographical knowledge. Research comprises the following: analysing the impact on historiographical knowledge of epistemological debates during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; correlating historiography and other outputs (literary, iconographic, monumental, etc.); researching critical moments in the shaping of political memory and the politics of memory; extracting from primary sources (comprising historical texts and built monuments) voids and the suppression of information in search of forgotten data, to develop a history of forgetfulness.
- The study and publishing of primary sources
This research group follows a primary source analysis and publishing tradition initiated in the Institute of Palaeography and Diplomatics of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Coimbra. The group aims to provide information on historical collections and support research projects within other research groups in the Center for the History of Society and Culture. Its aims are: to research written sources in Portuguese and Latin, engaging in a multidisciplinary approach (using palaeography, diplomatics, codicology, cultural studies); to analyse the written word as a socio-cultural, political, and ideological product; to publish sources (and source guides) in book and/or digital form; to supply research methodologies as a foundation to engaging with primary sources, namely indexes and historiographical thinking; to research the production of documents in context (royal, ecclesiastic, local, and by private individuals), in medieval and early modern Iberia; to carry out the history of books (in manuscript and printed) as well as that of archives and libraries.