Amélia Polónia is Professor at the Department of History, Political and International Studies of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto. Amélia Polónia is currently the scientific coordinator of the Intersdisciplinary Research Centre Culture, Space and Memory (CITCEM –
UP). Her scientific interests include social and economic networks in the Early Modern Age. Seaports history, migrations, transfers and flows between different continents and oceans, informal mechanisms of empire building, women as brokers and go-betweens in overseas empires and the environmental implications of European colonization are key subjects of her current research. For more information: https://www.cienciavitae.pt/portal/6310-2507 EFDC and https://www.ae-info.org/ae/Member/Polónia_Amélia.
Iconoclasm versus apologetics. How the Salazar regime dealt with
Portuguese overseas expansion.Historical interpretation of Portuguese Overseas Expansion changed considerably from the late 19th century to the present. Ideological appropriations of historical events are commonplace.
The propaganda of the regime of Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar extensively used the topic of Portuguese Overseas Expansion as a founding myth for justifying its own colonialism even in times when decolonisation processes were the common trend. Damnatio memoria, on the one hand, and apologetics on the other, were strategies spread from primary school textbooks to university programmes. It was responsible for the exclusion and even persecution of many Portuguese scholars that had to ask for refuge in other European Universities. It created myths, e.g. around Henry the Navigator or the Nautical School of Sagres. Key-personalities like Magellan were long defamed as anti-heroes.
The paper will show how these myths and twisted interpretations are still commonplace today. Even now, many Portuguese feel that in times of crises, these fictions are used to create a sense of national identity and self-confidence.
Key words: Salazar, Estado Novo, Portuguese Overseas Expansion, Propaganda