According to the rules fixed by FCT in the past, CEHR defined three thematic lines, that have been working as a theoretical framework, enabling a better articulation of the different undertaken projects and activities, in a vision open to the plurality of problems, questions and analytical perspectives: a) Power, movements and institutions; b) Forms of religious life, identities and affiliations; c) Memory, mediations and materialities of religion.
Organized around scientific problems and objectives, the research promoted in CEHR gives origin to continuous and punctual projects and activities, which require the constitution of specific Working Groups (WG). These WG assemble integrated researchers (PhD holders and young researchers) and collaborator researchers, choose one or more coordinators according with the work´s nature and the developed plan of activities. They function as micro-laboratories of ideas and proposals, forming an excellent opportunity to a scientific initiation and maturation, providing a research environment for young researchers, thus allowing them to acquire knowledge and skills, namely on the teamwork level. According to the opportunities, the 8 WG prepare and submit applications to competitive calls.
Social and Institutional Dimensions of the religions of the Ancient world
Formally created in 2012, the primary aim of this research group is to be a platform that allows researchers, both affiliated and unaffiliated to CEHR, to converge from their research topics to study religions in the ancient world within the framework of the sister disciplines of religious history and history of religions. It was in this sense that the group welcomed the involvement of several national researchers in three workshops and in one publication. The first workshop, titled “The Problem of the Religious Fact in the Ancient World,” took place in 2013. In the following year the workshop “Religion and Work in the Ancient World” was held. In 2015 the group organised a workshop dedicated to the ancient Egyptian religion, “Egyptian Religion: Beliefs, Practices, and Social Dynamics.” And in 2017 a dossier with the title “Religion and Work in the Pre-Classical Antiquity” was published in Lusitania Sacra (vol. 36). By promoting the involvement of ancient history researchers with CEHR, this group also enables this R&D unit to partner with other research units in the organisation of scientific meetings, and in 2016 CEHR, together with CH-UL and CECH-UCP, took part in the organisation of the international colloquium “Bab el-Gasus in Context: Egyptian Funerary Culture in the 21st Dynasty.”
Religious Orders in Society
After the publication of the Guia histórico das Ordens (edited in 2005 and updated in 2015), the researchers’ activities have led to the study of the history and presence of the main religious orders in the Portuguese society with particular attention to their implantation and patrimonial reality both tangible and intangible. Collaborating with local authorities and civil society institutions, the group started a network aiming the service to the community (patrimonial safeguard and valorisation; the access to history on the part of new audiences; artistic residences; commemoration of historical events). They created a set of synergies which catapulted the group to the participation in the Creative Europe projects (2014- ). Led, among others, by ICARUS (which we are part of). This fact, along with the participation of researchers in projects such as CLAUSTRA and PAISAJES ESPIRITUALES (based in Barcelona, under the coordination of Blanca Garí), allowed the group to intensify its internationalization through the participation in European networks and its discussion and dissemination of results.
Gender and Forms of Religious Life
Within the thematic line “Forms of religious life: identities and affiliations”, a work was developed in the perspective of Gender History, complying with the study the role of women in the construction and representation forms of society. As an operator in power relations and a form to signify and legitimate them, the problem of gender is indispensable to any critical social epistemology. Its understanding as an operative concept in the historical approach was in the base of 2 workshops: Vozes da vida religiosa feminina: experiências, textualidades e silêncios (séculos XV-XXI), 2015; and Género e interioridade na vida religiosa: conceitos, contexto e práticas, 2017. The same problem has inspired the post-doc of João Luís Fontes, which approaches the unregulated forms of religious life featured by women in the end of the Middle Ages.
Religious Expansion: Civilizations and Cultures
This team focuses on the comparative dynamics of missionary movements and of religious framing and vigilance in the multiple aspects concerning methodologies, contents and sociabilities. In recent years the team has conducted their research around two major topics: 1) the study of the institutional consolidation of the Inquisitions in order to achieve a broader understanding of their impact in early-Modern societies, a dynamic that has been done in cooperation with the Cathedra of Sephardic Studies Alberto Benveniste; 2) the historiographic revision on the history of the Society of Jesus in Portugal with the aim of analysing the role of this religious order in the formation of mentalities through its process of social insertion.
Results: the edition of Inquisiciones: Dimensiones comparadas (siglos XVI-XIX), coordinated by Miguel Rodrigues Lourenço, Susana Bastos Mateus, and Jaqueline Vassallo, 2017; creation of an online platform: History of the Inquisitions/História das Inquisições); organization of a dossier entitled “Companhia de Jesus: contextos sociais e relações de poder (séculos XVI a XIX)”, coordinated by Miguel Rodrigues Lourenço and Pedro Lage Correia and published in Lusitania Sacra.
Religious Diversification: Theologies and Sociabilities
The pioneer work of CEHR researchers in the study of the religious diversification in the Portuguese society, evident in the edition of the História Religiosa de Portugal (2000), was continued in the last years with the history of their implantation and development, in an extended chronology, attending to the empire’s scale and to the to the characteristics that they have in a transnational dimension. The projects around the history of Protestantism, the circulation of the biblical texts, the evangelic press, the presence of Islam and of the Jews in the Peninsula and of movements such as Spiritism in Portugal and Brazil, stand out. Among the results, we should also refer to: the dynamization of collaborative protocols with the Sociedade Portuguesa de História do Protestantismo and with the Cátedra de Estudos Sefarditas Alberto Benveniste; the organization of the International Workshop “Entre o destino e a Liberdade: o percurso histórico do problema da predestinação” (2015); the participation in the XI Congress COLUBHE – Congresso Luso-Brasileiro de História da Educação (2016); the participation in the Scientific Commission of the International Congress “Um construtor da Modernidade – Lutero – Teses – 500 anos” (2017); the dynamization of the Master and PhD degrees of History and Culture of Religions in a partnership with FLUL, which led to 1 PhD thesis and 2 other PhD thesis in a conclusive phase, and several master thesis; the hosting of 1 post-doc; publications in indexed journals and collective works.
Leaderships and Religious Universes
Its work is one of the examples of the historiographical renovation led by the Unit. It innovated in the approach to the thematic universe of the clergy stem from the study of its role in the construction of the Portuguese contemporary public administration. It consolidates the problematization of the role of ecclesiastical leaderships in the process of deconfessionalization and laicization of the State, of the affirmation mechanisms of their social and symbolic capital, and of the protagonists and social dynamics of the contestation towards them. The group has solidified its comparative approach with similar socio-political realities (Spain, France, Italy, Brazil and Mexico), patent in the speakers of the undertaken workshops: “Catolicismo e liberalismo em Portugal e no México: duas sociedades e dois ambientes de recomposição religiose” (2013); e “O Clero na ibero-américa: personalidades, percursos e estratégias de intervenção sociopolítica” (2017). Other results: creation of a database about the Portuguese contemporary parochiality; conclusion of the formation stages of the researchers (2 concluded Phds and 2 undergoing PhDs; 2 concluded masters); 1 undergoing post-doc.
Modernity and Religion
The topics of secularization and laicity, introduced and consolidated in the Portuguese historiographical agenda by the CEHR researchers, deserved remarkable impulses between 2013 and 2017 in the identification of the place of religion in modernity and in the analysis of the articulation between belief and citizenship. Among the developed objects of study some stand out: the construction of the catholic public space and periodical publications; social identity and state apparatus in Greater Lisbon (in collaboration with ICS-UL); religious architecture and territorial organization; reformed Catholicism and authoritarian corporativism; assistance and social service; scouts and youth social framework; state and churches separation in a comparative perspective Portugal/Brazil. Among the results: databases in open access in the CEHR’s website; study cycles, some of them in a partnership (“Religião em Múltiplas Modernidades”, with 3 annual meetings); annual movie cycles under a religious thematic, with discussion and open to the general public (in Porto); advanced training of new researchers (3 undergoing PhDs and 2 undergoing post-Docs); publications in collective works and indexed journals.
Archives and Memory
Existing since the beginning of 1990, the group is formed by archivists and academics. Its mission is to contribute to the safeguard, valorisation, study and public access of the documental heritage produced by socio-religious institutions and their protagonists, with an interest to the history of the Portuguese society. It aims to work in an articulate manner through three levels: research and reflexion, in connection with other working lines; archival formation, in cooperation with other specialized institutions; and execution of archival intervention projects.
The Group is responsible for two archival description and diffusion tools: the Platform of Personal and Religious Institutions Archives (PAPIR), a project launched in 2015, that gathers more than 30.000 records of archival description; and the collection “Instrumentos de Descrição Documental”, currently with 6 published works.
The Group relates to some international networks, notably ICARUS - International Centre for Archival Research and the network of Ecclesiastical European Archives Conferences.