• Caretos

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)
01/02/2023 - 31/01/2026 
Institutions involved (in collaboration or partnership)


In 1967, while in Paris, Luís Cília recorded the song "É preciso avisar toda a gente" (We must warn everyone), based on a poem by João Apolinário, himself exiled in Brazil. Like many other artists, both had fled Portugal, escaping censorship and political persecution by the Estado Novo (New State) dictatorship. Poem and song transmitted the same sense of urgency, the same need to "whisper the word" about the sorrow, the death and the pain caused by the authoritarian regime. Seven years later, on the eve of April 25, 1974, two other broadcasted songs gave the signal for the beginning of the military operations that restored democracy and triggered the Carnation Revolution. During the 41 years of the Estado Novo, music had an essential role in the construction of cultural resistance and in the expression of political dissent. It circulated widely among both legal and illegal opposition groups, through records secretly introduced in the country or radio broadcasts transmitted from Algiers or Bucharest. Protest songs were performed in political underground meetings, unauthorised strikes and demonstrations, student rallies and inside the regime's political prisons. Many of the authors of these songs were exiled in France, the destination of a massive flow of political and economic migrants (between the 1950s and the end of the Estado Novo, almost a million Portuguese citizens emigrated to France [Pereira 2012]). The musical repertoire created in exile remains powerfully anchored in Portuguese collective memory, and is regularly enacted in official and unofficial commemorations of the Carnation Revolution. However, a detailed research on musical creation in the context of political exile in France during the dictatorship is yet to be done.
The main goal of MUSEX is to explore the impact of the experience of exile in musical creation. It will be organised in three main research lines covering the large chronological span of the dictatorship: an ethnographic history of individual trajectories; a cultural, social and political history of the musical practices; and an analysis of the musical creation and production. The research team combines experts with different backgrounds (musicology, ethnomusicology, political, social and cultural history, film and theatre studies), and will carry out an extensive survey of archival documentation, both in Portugal and in France, and collect oral testimonies of musicians and other agents involved in music making in exile. Several case studies will be examined, concerning different musical genres and practices, from communist composer Fernando Lopes-Graça, exiled in Paris in the 1930s, to the popular music singers active in France in the 1960s and 70s, mostly linked with the radical left (José Mário Branco, Sérgio Godinho, Tino Flores, among many others). Despite the generational gap and different musical approaches, Lopes-Graça was very influential to these popular music singers by simultaneously being an important symbol of political resistance, and due to his pioneering research on Portuguese traditional music. MUSEX will study the relationship of these musicians with the complex web of political and cultural organisations in exile, contributing to the historiography of Portuguese resistance and highlighting the importance of studying the circulation of cultural and artistic productions. By applying the methodology of life histories, the project will address the complex personal and creative processes at stake in the experience of exile, namely the different ways Portuguese exiled musicians have transplanted, acculturated and reterritorialized their artistic and political practices. Another priority of this project is, therefore, to foster a global perspective on the subject of exile that necessarily crosses the traditional borders between national and international history. Several researchers of the team are based in France, and the collaboration with the project's consultants will provide scientific partnerships with other research groups in the UK and the USA dedicated to the subject of music and political activism. In alignment with the UN SDG, MUSEX has the purpose of raising awareness of contemporary pressing issues and mobilising energies and knowledge from outside academia. The research team will develop a close partnership with organisations devoted to the preservation of the memory of the resistance against the dictatorship, such as the Associação Lopes-Graça, Associação José Afonso, Observatório da Canção de Protesto and the Associação Mémoire Vive (Paris), among others. Interdisciplinary seminars will be organised regularly at the FCSH and opened to graduated students. The main outputs of this project will be the publication of a collective volume of essays, several articles in scientific journals and book chapters, an international conference, a website, two audio CDs, a film documentary and a documental exhibition.

Music and Resistance; Memory of Portuguese Exile; Cultural Heritage; Global History.