Science funding under an authoritarian regime: Portugal's National Education Board and the European 'academic landscape' in the interwar period

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This article enables an understanding of scientific practice and funding in a peripheral country ruled by a dictatorship in the interwar period, and thus provides the basis for comparison with studies of other non-democratic regimes. We examine the work of Portugal's Junta de Educacao Nacional (National Education Board), which administered and provided funding for science from 1929 to 1936. Our findings show that this public body encouraged the participation of the Portuguese academic community in international science networks. This scenario contrasts with the dominant historiographical thesis that between the wars the Portuguese academic community did not play a role in international networks, and that it lacked state support. Also in contrast with the dominant historiography, whose ideological bias meant that a simplified picture was portrayed, whereas the reality is shown to be complex, this study demonstrates that the Portuguese dictatorial state sought to foster scientific progress through the Junta, but that resentment among academics and the resistance of universities to innovation meant that this objective was only partially achieved. Finally, the memory of a number of scientists has been rescued from oblivion, as we show how their political stance during the dictatorship led to their being ignored by historiographers when democracy prevailed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalNotes And Records Of The Royal Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2021


  • Funding for science
  • International scientific networks
  • Circulation of knowledge
  • Resistance and resentment

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