The process of democratisation in Portugal and Spain originated from a similar socio-political context. Besides having an almost identical geographical context, two long authoritarian and military dictatorships shaped the two counties on the basis of a nationalist and deeply catholic identity. From the point of view of popular culture, both dictatorships promoted a disengaged culture, based on songs, football matches, bullfights and the stereotypes of Iberian folklore. In the early 1970s, the illiteracy rate and cultural practices indexes in both countries were still among the highest in Europe. Despite these similar starting conditions, the Portuguese transition to democracy was very different from that of Spain; whereas Portugal created a rupture with the previous institutional context through a military coup, in Spain the post-Franco democratisation was founded on negotiated reform. These two processes of transition to democracy in Portugal and Spain, although dissimilar from each other, led to new ways of both high and popular cultural expressions. As a result, the decade following the two dictatorships was characterised by significant and euphoric experiments in the fields of literature, visual and plastic arts, cinema and music. Scholars have paid scant attention to the ways in which artists thought and put into practice the very notion of democracy in these years. Democracy is a highly contested category, one that has been imagined in many different ways, and any particular realisation of which carries costs as well as benefits. According to the historian of democracy Pierre Rosanvallon (2008), the rise of a democracy entails both a promise and a problem for a society.
This two-day conference aims to innovatively question how artistic practices and institutions formed ways of imagining democracy and by what means arts and culture participate in the wider social struggle to define freedom and equality for the post-Estado Novo and post-Francoist period: how did artistic practices instantiate ideas of democracy in this context? Inversely, how did such democratic values inform artistic practice? How did Portuguese and Spanish artists and intellectuals negotiate between creative autonomy and social responsibility? And more broadly, what is the role of culture in a democracy? The core purpose of the conference is to bring scholars together from different subject areas and exploring any artistic practice (literature, visual and plastic arts, cinema and music). PhD students, early careers and senior researchers are invited to submit an abstract to engage in an interdisciplinary and comparative debate on how the field of culture framed different ideas of democracy in the Iberian post-authoritarian transitions during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Papers will be 30-minutes in length with 15 minutes of discussion time, to enable the fullest exchange. Please submit proposals (300 words) and a short bio to I.ContrerasZubillaga(at)hud.ac.uk and g.quaggio(at)sheffield.ac.uk by the deadline Friday 31 May 2019. The programme will be announced in early July.
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