2008 - 2011
Sobre o projecto (Inglês)
Popularization of science and technology is an established field within the history of science and technology. In the past years, though, the historiography of science popularization is undergoing a crisis. The received view of popular science as a downgraded version of science for lay-consumers does not hold any more. Proposals for critical revisions of the dichotomies built in the characterization of popular science, such as the dichotomy between production and consumption, creativity and passive reception, experts and lay audiences are open for discussion.
This project is an innovative contribution to the field both at the international and national level: it uses new primary sources to provide a fresh look at popularization of science and technology in the European periphery, a largely undervalued sub-field within the larger area of popularization of science and technology. At the theoretical level, the project will contribute to help re-conceptualize the historiographical category of science popularization.
In this project we aim at analyzing the representations of science and technology stemming from the Portuguese generalist press covering a period from the end of the monarchy to the end of the first Republic.
Newspapers were chosen on the basis of their broad ideological scope and geographical locations. Such is the case of Diário de Notícias (founded 1865), Comércio do Porto (f. 1854) and Diário dos Açores (f. 1870). We will further consider the suitability of including additionally culturally oriented newspapers issued in each of the selected cities. In the beginning of the 20th century, both the Oporto's and Azores' newspapers were part of Portuguese mainstream press, which was politically engaged in a double sense, either by aligning itself with a particular political party, or by making politics its main theme: the Oporto newspaper was a prestigious one of wide circulation and republican leanings; and the islander newspaper represented a sector of the monarchical intelligentsia linked to the Partido Progressista (Progressive Party).
Methodologically we will opt for a comprehensive (systematic and extremely time-consuming) survey of the totality of news issued in all newspapers selected during the whole period under study. This option will enable a quantitative approach and hence more reliable conclusions. Based on the senior members' preliminary experience each news will be classified according to a classificatory grid.
Classification grid (general):
- Author (if stated)
Major thematic areas:
- Introduction of new technologies;
- Innovations in science;
- Hygiene, health and medicine;
- Science and natural phenomena;
- Science and religion;
- Women, gender and science;
- Science in the local public arena.
In order to handle the huge amount of news surveyed, each will be summarized or transcribed (partially or integrally) or scanned according to relevance. An on-line database will be created to house entries for each of the news.
The main objective of this project is to analyze public perceptions of science and technology in a country of the European periphery with an extreme high illiteracy rate during the first decades of the 20th century by using a comparative method based on the contrast of news issued in newspapers of different political orientations and geographical provenance.
At the national level, it aims at contributing to unveil the role and functions of science in a peripheral country during a period which voiced consistently an ideology in which science played a crucial role, to assess differences between ideological aims, the rhetoric of scientism, daily practices and their outcomes by using a bottom-up methodology. At the international level, it aims at contributing to prepare the ground for a comparative study of the views on science and technology as voiced in newspapers at the dawn of the 20th century in different countries of the European peripheries - Greece, Spain and Portugal. This is a project integrated in one of the research lines pushed forward by the international STEP group (Science and Technology in the European Peripheries, see http://www.cc.uoa.gr/step; http://www.uv.es/comic/step5 ).
- Ana Simões, coordinating researcher
- Ana Carneiro
- Maria Paula Diogo
- Luis Miguel Carolino
- Maria Antónia Pires de Almeida
- Samuel Gessner
- Fernando Reis
- Conceição Tavares
- Ana Simões, Luís Miguel Carolino, “The Portuguese astronomer Melo e Simas (1870-1934). Republican ideals and the popularization of science”, submetido à revista Science in Context.
- Ana Simões, Isabel Zilhão, Maria Paula Diogo, and Ana Carneiro, “Halley turns Republican. How the Portuguese press perceived the 1910 return of Halley’s comet”, submetido à revista History of Science.
- Maria Paula Diogo, Ana Cardoso de Matos, “Going Public: The 1st Portuguese National Engineering Meeting and the Popularization of the image of the engineer as an artisan of progress (Portugal, 1931)”, accepted for publication in Journal for Engineering Studies, expected date of publication 2012.
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