II Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

Peripheral Modernities

July 9-14


The long history of the modern seems to stress that modernity was a privilege of Western rationality, disseminated from a European centre across the imaginary waiting rooms of history. Yet, the markers of what was hailed as the sign of Western advancement industrialization, secularization and rationalization have been consistently questioned over the past decade as indicators of universal validity and modernity itself reconceived beyond Western provincialism. Homi Bhabha thus conceives of a ‘contra-modernity’ to qualify the post-colonial as a stage that both mimicks and subverts Western modernity, Susan Friedman speaks of ‘polycentric modernities’ that enlarge the geographical scope of the modernization endeavour, whilst Argentinian critic Beatriz Sarlo has defined the Argentinian Modernism as the aesthetical counterpart of the specific South-American decentering into ‘peripheral modernities’. The II Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture will take the manifold assumptions about modernity and its modernisms as the stepping stone to address the multiple ways in which the modern has been claimed.

Although the distinction between modernity as a social-political construct and modernism as it aesthetic-cultural counterpart seems to be widely consensual, the neat separation between the two terms is not uncontentious, as the cultural does not exist beyond social framing and neither does the political occur beyond the aesthetic exploits of artists. This gap, stressed in the claim made by Adornian aesthetics’ that modernism reflects modernity’s critical self-awareness, seems to bring more problems than results for a complex mapping of the concept.

In fact, the process of modernity is complex, because it brings together the social, the political, the cultural and the economical. It is simultaneously critical and hegemonic, imaginative and rational, dislocated and situated, global and local, traumatic and empowering.

The Summer School invites doctoral students and post-docs to submit theoretical discussions and case-study approaches from all fields of the humanities and the social sciences that consider modernity and modernism as other, diverse, fluid, translocal, plural, polycentric and alternative.


  • Bob Wilson
  • Barbie Zelizer (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Roberto Vecchi (University of Bologna)
  • Xiaomei Chen  (University of California)
  • Elisabeth Bronfen (Universidity of Zurich)
  • Márcio Seligman Silva (Unicamp, Brazil)
  • António Sousa Ribeiro (Universidade de Coimbra)