On May 20 2022, Ricardo Vasconcelos (Univ. Estadual de San Diego) will join us for the seminar “Beyond Junk: the representation of the 2011-2015 financial crisis in Portuguese fiction”. The event will take place at 4:30 PM, in room DEPER at FLUP.
The time period between 2011 and 2015 saw the international bailout of Portugal’s finances and the implementation of a vast array of austerity measures that sought to rein in the Portuguese deficit. These measures sharply increased the hardship of the Portuguese population, suddenly hit by rampant unemployment and drastic cuts on wages and social benefits. Besides these clear material consequences, the designation of the Portuguese sovereign debt as “junk” by international rating agencies also had severe symbolic implications for the individual and national identities of the Portuguese population. Unsurprisingly, however, the ubiquitous presence of the economic discourse and the actual policies implemented triggered an intense intellectual and creative response by many writers, artists, and film directors. These creators were well aware that words serve both as solace and as a weapon, and as such gave voice to the difficulties of the population, by creating vocabularies and stories that reinterpreted their individual and collective lives in the period of social collapse. The cultural production of the time was both a cathartic and hope-inspiring re-description of reality that struggled for the symbolic survival of the Portuguese identity, to prove that the country had been, was, and would continue to be more than plain junk. Today’s presentation focuses particularly, though not exclusively, some of the fictional responses to this crisis period.