PhD Queimada e Silva Tiago

81800 €

The Muslim ‘Other’ and National Identity-Building at the Dawn of the Portuguese Empire

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Kaksivuotinen

This research project will analyse the birth and early genealogy of a Portuguese national identity from the late fourteenth until the early sixteenth century, a period in which the kingdom of Portugal leapt from modest peninsular marginality to global prominence and imperial power. I will question the role of Muslim otherness in legitimation discourses and in social processes concerning the definition of a Portuguese national identity. I focus on convergence between religion and politics in processes of identity-building in late medieval and early modern Portugal, with close attention to the uses of memories of war against Muslims in the discourses of political legitimation produced by the monarchy. I challenge the established view that the Portuguese national identity emerged primarily through juxtaposition against Castile and the other Iberian Christian powers, arguing for the continuous importance of Muslim otherness in the official memory of the kingdom and in the development of a national consciousness. Several myths and symbols surrounding the foundation of the monarchy were created during this epoch. A Portuguese self-consciousness was built during the medieval epoch around the monarchical centre, a notion of belonging based around those narratives and symbols. They then evolved to become identifiers of not only the monarchy but of the human community living under the monarchy’s jurisdiction. This national mythology, laden with religious elements, is reproduced to this day. This research will be published as part of the Medium Aevum Monographs series (Society of Medieval Languages and Literature). I will also organise an international symposium devoted to the theme of otherness and identity in the medieval Mediterranean. The proceedings of the symposium are to be published in an academic journal specialised in medieval studies, and hopefully will motivate more discussion around themes related to otherness and identity in pre-modern contexts.