Centre and Periphery: Anthropological Theory and National Identity in Portuguese Ethnography

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While in some central European countries and the USA, anthropology developed as a research on non-Western societies and cultures, in peripheral countries of Europe, the discipline was mainly concerned with the study of local folk tradition. Focusing on the Portuguese case, this chapter examines the relationship between these two anthropological traditions. It argues that this relationship was a complex one. While some theoretical references originating from the center were assimilated at a reasonable pace by Portuguese anthropologists, others only became relevant when they were already obsolete in the center; others still were completely absent in the historical development of Portuguese anthropology. The reasons for such a situation are related to the “nation building” character of Portuguese anthropology. The relationships established with the anthropological paradigms originating at the center were based on their potential usefulness to Portuguese anthropology as an exercise in the “ethnographic imagination” of the nation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of the History of Human Sciences
EditorsDavid McCallum
Place of PublicationSingapura
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-15-4106-3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • History of Anthropology
  • Portugal
  • Ethnology
  • National identity


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