Accepted paper:

Monsanto, pride of Portugal


Stanley Brandes (University of California, Berkeley)

Paper short abstract:

This paper concerns a contest, initiated in 1938, to select ‘the most Portuguese village in Portugal.’ More than the search for a single winner, the contest—in which ethnologists collaborated closely with the Salazar regime--was essentially a Portuguese response to the threat of Spanish invasion.

Paper long abstract:

This paper concerns a contest, initiated in 1938 under the Portuguese regime of António de Salazar, to select 'the most Portuguese village in Portugal.' The winning village would be presented with a 'Galo de Prata' [Silver Rooster], a prize by which the contest became known. The paper describes the rules and organization of the Galo de Prata contest—mainly focused on a search for the purest Portuguese cultural and architectural features--and questions the essential validity and feasible application of contest guidelines. It also shows the close collaboration between professional ethnologists and musicologists, on the one hand, and the fascist government of the day, on the other. Unlike earlier academic studies, this analysis places the Galo de Prata contest within the context of the turbulent international affairs of the late 1930s. The contest, which ended with the selection of Monsanto of Beira Baixa, was largely an attempt on the part of the Salazar regime to define and assert sovereignty over its territories, in reaction to the imminent threat of a Spanish invasion. Rather than the selection of a single triumphant village, it was the nearly year long, much celebrated search for the most Portuguese village in Portugal, chronicled in detail in the popular press, that enabled the government to achieve its nationalistic goals.

panel P059
Topics in the social history of anthropology, in Europe and elsewhere (Europeanist Network)