Project "IMPACTS of EXPO '98"

Urban Redevelopment, Public Culture, and Portuguese National Identity in Contemporary Lisbon: Public Impacts and Perceptions of Tagus River Front Redevelopment, Including EXPO '98

Coordination Objectives Methodology Team Funding

Last Update: 27 April 98

Coordinator: R. Timothy Sieber, Ph.D. ( 1995 - 1998

Major objectives and purposes of the proposed investigation:

This research project (first begun during Fall 1995) involves an urban anthropological analysis of the current redevelopment of Lisbon's zona ribeirinha, and public perceptions and impacts of developments in this rapidly changing urban zone. The scope of the investigation will include both the city's western waterfront on the Tagus River, undergoing significant replanning and redevelopment under the auspices of the Administration of the Port of Lisbon's Plano de Ordenamento da Zona Ribeirinha (POZOR), and also the city's eastern waterfront zone now being transformed by the construction of the spectacular new mini-city that will house the upcoming 1998 world's fair, the Exposição Internacional de Lisboa (EXPO '98), under supervision of the public-private partnership of Parque EXPO '98 SA.

The project will study, from a social anthropological point of view, new representations of Portuguese culture that are being displayed in these urban transformations, as examples of the emerging contemporary urban public culture being developed and consumed not only among Portuguese themselves, but also projected by Portuguese to foreigners who are increasingly visiting a globalizing Lisbon through international business and tourism. The investigation will survey several areas of cultural production, and the manner in which they are altering the national capital and in that process reenacting and reinterpreting traditional Portuguese cultural heritage and identity, including (1) new spaces and programs for public recreation and leisure, especially water-related; (2) new architecture and urban design; (3) historic restoration and preservation of the built environment; (4) museum, pavilion, and exhibit development and interpretation; (5) rituals of public celebration and heritage commemoration; (6) touristic programming of all types; and, (7) works of public art.

In relation to all the above areas of physical and cultural planning, a major focus of the research will be to examine the history and development of public dialogue on planning among different segments of the city's, and the nation's, contemporary business, political, scientific and cultural leadership, and between these leadership groups and the citizenry in general. This will involve comparison of evaluations and meanings of the new developments for national and urban leaders, regular citizens, and planners, as well as attention to the broader critical reception of new developments by groups of citizens and opinion-makers, as well as by foreigners in the city as business and tourist visitors. The history of the environmental impact review processes utilized in planning these sites will also be studied.

Methodology and Plan of the field investigation:

Research methods will include: formal and informal interviewing, focus groups, direct observation, photographic and videographic documentation, and historical and archival research on relevant historical and planning documents. The bulk of the research will consist of extended interviews with a broad sample of Portuguese leaders, planners, opinion-makers, and regular citizens. The research team will interview:

* Relevant public officials linked with POZOR and EXPO '98, particularly in the Camaras Municipais of Lisbon and Loures, especially focusing on uses and outcomes of environmental impact review processes related to POZOR and EXPO '98;

* Design, marketing, and cultural programming staff at Parque EXPO '98 SA, focusing especially on the history of consultations between EXPO '98 staff and broader Portuguese public constituencies, and the role these consultations have played in EXPO planning, especially related to its broad programmatic and design themes;

* POZOR planning staff at the Administration of the Port of Lisbon, especially concerning the ways that broader public, including political and journalistic, responses to early planning have shaped final development outcomes;

* City business leaders, especially linked with AMBELIS, the Lisbon Development Agency, focusing on the relevance of new developments for Lisbon's global economic leadership.

The team will also conduct on-site interviews, and focus groups, with a broad, stratified sample of public users of newly redeveloped waterfront spaces, including both POZOR and EXPO '98 sites, to ascertain views of regular Portuguese citizens, as well as tourists and visiting business people, on the new developments and their meaning for Portuguese national culture, identity, and global image. New construction and planning of waterfront spaces, works of public art, productions of public celebrations and spectacles, and all other displays of cultural heritage, including key exhibits, events, and performances associated with EXPO '98, will be documented through observation and photographic and videographic recording, wherever it is permissible.


Prof. Timothy Sieber, Ph.D., Coordinator (Anthropology); Prof. Fernando João Moreira, MA (Geography); Dr. Paula Afonso Fernandes, Lic. (Anthropology, Tourism); Dr. Ana Delicado, Lic. (Sociology); Dr. Cristina Rebelo Angelo, Lic. (Communications); Fernando Castel-Branco Sacramento, BS (Business, Tourism); Joana Veiga Sacramento (Anthropology, student)


Fullbright, Universidade Aberta; projected application for JNICT / PRAXIS complementing funds.

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