Práticas da História No. 10

Sep 18, 2020 | 2020, Editions, Práticas da História

Práticas da História – Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past

  • 2020
  • Issue 10
  • ISSN: 2183-590X
  • Special issue: Luso-tropical, Oriental, and Post-luso-tropical Medievalisms: Crossroads in the definition of the Portuguese Middle Ages as Brazil’s past — Edited by Pedro Martins and Maria de Lurdes Rosa

Excerpt from the Editorial:
Since its third issue (2016), the journal Práticas da História has devoted much attention to the question of the uses and representations of the Middle Ages – what several scholars have designated as medievalism. Prolific authors in this field such as Richard Utz, David Matthews, Valentin Groebner, Andrew B. R. Elliott and Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri have used this publication to debate a host of topics related to medievalism, from the uses of the medieval past by European nationalisms to the relevance of the representations of the Middle Ages in so-called contemporary “popular culture”. However, the interest in medievalism is not merely a consequence of the thematic scope or personal preferences of the editors of this publication – in fact, it has been growing. Since its theoretical conception in the 1970s, studies on “medievalism” have raised a series of questions related not only to the problematization of the idea of the “Middle Ages”, but also to the diverse interpretations that have been made about this historical period since its conceptualization.
One of the questions that has received least attention, though recent academic works have been challenging this trend, is the relation between medievalism and colonial and post-colonial contexts. Authors such as John N. Ganim, Louise D’Arcens and Nadia Altschul have reflected on this relation, particularly regarding topics such as the proximity between medievalism and “orientalism” or the relevance of medievalism in post-colonial societies such as Australia and Latin American countries. This reflection has shown, among other aspects, the close-knit intersection between the evocation of the Middle Ages and the advance of European imperialism under the guise of allegedly ethical values, in fields where this framework sits awkwardly, such as the conquest, domination, and conversion of populations to the Christian faith. From the point of view of social sciences, the medievalist perspective has also brought important theoretical contributions: post-colonial studies were challenged on their simplistic views about the Middle Ages; “orientalism” was given a more ancient past and a more complex history; the study of the idea of race gained historical depth. Finally, in recent years, the study of the academic and cultural conception of the Middle Ages as a founding moment of the European past for nineteenth-century nations has developed in a no less interesting direction – how the colonies of these nations, and the countries born from them, also invented a medieval past, and through it refused their non-European, pre-colonial origins. Even if that past was not al-ways regarded positively – as was the case in certain Brazilian contexts –, only much more recently (and partially) did it begin to be interrogated as (another) imaginary past, allowing the integration of native peoples in the history of these countries.


Pedro Martins (IHC — NOVA FCSH) and Maria de Lurdes Rosa (IEM — NOVA FCSH)

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