Researchers in Identities, Cultures and Vulnerabilities promote ethnographic-based research which varies in subject and scale. We develop from small-scale projects for immediate execution in communities with selected social and academic partners (migrant communities, inner city, ethnography-based art, scientific societies, food practices) to large-scale projects based on competitive funding allowing for team expansion, sustained ethnographic and archival research, internationalization and high-stakes theoretical goals.
We are predominantly anthropologists or anthropology-inclined sociologists, social geographers, historians, historians of science, psychologists and visual artists. We also combine, however, the perspectives of multiple disciplines, promote joint actions and research lines with other Researh Groups at ICS around key ICS research topics (migrations, food, climate change, health and wellbeing, body, sex, age, constricted labour and empire) and foster cooperation with non-academic partners.
Racializations and racism
Having a major interest in the social production of racialized identifications and their naturalization as “race”, one of our key conceptual achievements links racialization to labour position in post- enslavement plantation societies and analogues. The ERC advanced grant, The Colour of Labour, studies the production of racialized categories and racialized life experiences in interconnected and/or parallel contexts of massive labour flows – from post-abolition indentured labour in the colonial British Caribbean and Hawaiian kingdom sugar plantations involving Portuguese islanders, to migrant farm work on contemporary Southern Italy tomato plantations involving eastern European workers; from industrial mill work in New England, to the circulation of labour and knowledge in African cocoa plantations; from the dyad plantation/domestic work in Mauritius, to the spectacle of the tea plantation in its current tourism economy. The concept also accounts for the study of racialist developments in science and of embodied experiences of race and racism. Our angle avoids conventional approaches to nation-based empires by focusing on less visible flows across political boundaries. We aim to detour the conceptual fatigue of contemporary post-colonial studies and actively contribute to shape future scholarship and knowledge.
Our conceptual achievement “place matters” covers a string of ethnographic and collaborative research projects anchored on the importance of place. Those projects vary from approaches to ideologies of belonging, nation and diaspora (with Portuguese, S Tomean, Angolan, Australian, German and Brazilian case studies), to the study of border crossing, life-projects and citizenship aspirations across the Mediterranean or the analysis of the global circulations of people and things and their intersections; from collaborative work with traditional healers and psychiatrists in Mozambique, to conceptual development on co-habitation in Timor; from collaborative work among vulnerable peri-urban communities on Lisbon’s south bank, to a major H2020 multi- partner project (ROCK) on the regeneration and adaptive reuse of historic city centres.
Embodiments, Materialities and health
A cluster of research projects examines objects and corporeal practices as a means of studying social processes, micropolitics, lifelong aspirations, positioning strategies, belonging and networking, identity narratives and lived experiences. The study of food and foodways, home-building and domestic material culture, media uses, healing-related practices and objects, birth, ageing and material responses to experienced and perceived vulnerabilities, combine the tradition of ethnographic fieldwork with cutting edge developments in contemporary anthropological theory, as evidenced by the numerous related publications of the RG’s members and by the leadership of a HERA research consortium in this cluster.
The RG largely overlaps with the PhD programme in anthropology, allowing for a maximum synergy between research and advanced teaching. This is materialized in joint seminars, shared outreach activities, early immersion of PhD students in a research environment. Our profile attracts visiting students and scholars, bringing home our internationalized routines. The RG members are regularly involved in international partnerships for research, teaching, publishing and science governance (EASA, AAA, WCAA).