CEsA Digital Magazine #1 | CEsA 40th Anniversary: CEsA has made the complete collection of working papers produced over its 40 years of existence of the research centre available in digital format
From the very first one in 1984 to the most recent in 2023, all of the CEsA Working Papers and another 21 Brief Papers are available in digital format and can be downloaded free of charge at the Repository of the University of Lisbon
To celebrate the 40 years since its foundation, the Centre for African and Development Studies (CEsA/CSG/ISEG/University of Lisbon) has made its complete collection of Working Papers and Brief Papers available in digital format for free download at the Repository of the University of Lisbon. They can also be viewed in chronological order on the CEsA website and in the Lisbon University’s Online Catalogue, exclusive access for students.
There are more than 200 publications reflecting the path taken by scientific production in one of the oldest research centres in Portugal on African and Development Studies. From No. 1/1984 (“An experience of economic integration in Africa”, by Eugénio Inocência and Manuel Ennes Ferreira), to the most recent, No. 190/2023 (“Study of the value chain of the tourism sector in Angola as an alternative economic, social, and environmental development strategy under the Prodesi programme”, by Eduardo Sarmento), a wide variety of subjects is available to readers in Portuguese, with some editions in English and French.
“All research centres have a collection like this to publicise the type of research they’re doing. We have a very flexible and diverse collection, which shows how the research being done has developed”, explained João Estêvão, one of the founder-researchers at CEsA, responsible for research line 1 – Economics, Development and International Cooperation, and a retired ISEG professor.
The researcher is proud that the centre has been able to maintain approaches that add multidisciplinary and integrational perspectives of development: “We always took care to ensure that the Working Papers were broad in range and that they could bring in contributions from different subject areas on issues of development”.
Scanning the Working Papers was an initiative of the Francisco Pereira de Moura Library at ISEG. The work begun during the pandemic, by librarian Paulo Fonseca, in order to expand the library’s digital archive. “My main concern was for all the information to be available in open access so that people could access the documents from anywhere. The open access mission is aimed at promoting recognition of the work of the researchers, thus increasing the impact of the research and the visibility, in this case, of ISEG”, said Fonseca.
Fonseca explained that the work was done according to a methodology which consisted of a first phase of scanning the hard copy working papers and then including them in the files at the Repository of the University of Lisbon, cataloguing all the main bibliographical information (title, author, publication date, citation, abstract, keywords, etc.). “Our main goal is to make our library digital, as a driving force for the research done in the school”, he added.
He believes that the main advantage of scanning documents is the reduction of dependence on and the use of paper; freeing up the physical spaces in the library, thus contributing to minimising the amount of printed material; maintaining the quality and conservation of the paper documents, which tend to deteriorate over time. As well as for reader convenience and accessibility. “I also think that it’s very interesting for the repository to allow users to access statistical data, such as the number of downloads over the year and the number of visitors who accessed the repository”, he conclude.
“As I was saying a while ago, I had the privilege of experiencing an important moment in this school in Portugal, which was the transition to democracy, the revolution, building a democracy and, shall we say, a new university in Portugal.
Why a new university? Because social and human sciences were very severely restricted. There was economics, but economics is a very different pathway that comes from further back. But there was no bachelor’s degree in sociology, for example. It was unthinkable to do something like that at that time. There was a curious experience of creation and they had to give it another name, Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho. The bachelor’s degree in labour sciences was created, which later became known as sociology. At the time, with the new outlook for universities in the early 1980s, the issue arose that ‘well, we have to really build a university’. Then, the choice was made to focus on advanced training for the teaching staff, because they, my professors, for example, the majority of them weren’t from the university. They came to the university, gave some classes, etc. And it was then that people began to think, in this field of economics in particular, but not just that, of building a real university.
The 1980s was a very important decade because it was at that time that we witnessed incredible production of PhD theses here at this school. People moved away, France, England, etc. And it was a period that marked how the new school was built afterwards – just to give you an idea, in 1980, the school had six or seven PhD graduates, in 1990, it had almost 10 times more. But there came a time in Portugal when teaching staff who didn’t have PhDs disappeared, but this makes no sense any more. Well, that’s how things were at the time. Then, there was a group of people who focused on issues of development. At the time, the support, particularly because we were almost all thinking about our PhD theses, there was no training higher than a bachelor’s degree. It must be understood that there were five-year bachelor degrees, but after that there was nothing else.
Back then, there was a belief in the importance of the construction of research centres that would allow people to be brought in from outside, creating a space for debate and an appropriate space for developing scientific research. The first of these centres, CISEP, the Centre for Research on the Portuguese Economy, operated in three different areas. One of these areas was the area of development. One of the team at the time was Professor Manuela Silva, who was very well-known in this area and work began to be done in the area of development. Naturally, the perspective used was the Portuguese reality. Meanwhile, as lots of people were discussing, studying and investigating the issue of development from a more international perspective, they began thinking that it would be a good time to set up another centre where people from the development area could come together, as this couldn’t be done at CISEP, and that’s what happened. Some people came from CISEP, Professor Almeida Serra and me, the two of us in particular, then other teaching staff with experience in the African area, such as Professor Lino Torres and Professor Jochen Oppenheimer. Then there were other people who had begun studying African topics, as well as a number of students from different Portuguese-speaking African countries, who thought it would be interesting to take part in this. This ended up guiding the centre towards an African studies perspective. That doesn’t mean that everybody was guided towards African studies, but rather towards an African studies perspective. I don’t actually work in African research; I work in the development area, more in the field of thinking. Then, because there were other experiences at ISCTE and we were circling the market, we decided to set up a centre that we believed was timely. It should have Africa in the name, so a specialised centre aimed at development issues. This was the first stage before the centre was built. When the centre came a few years later, the decision was made to open a master’s degree course. Before becoming a master’s course, it was a postgraduate course, Development and International Cooperation. It ran for two years and that was almost 10 years afterwards, so it took some time. Then the master’s course was organised.
We had some concerns in the early stages. There was one that was predominant, except among the older people – such as Professor Oppenheimer and Professor Lino Torres, who already had PhDs; most of us had one goal in mind, which was doing our PhD theses. The centre acted as a space for discussion. We brought in people from Portugal, but we also brought in several people from abroad. The school always had some partnerships, mainly with France. We had a very close relationship with France, then with other places, so there were a lot of people around. This was one aspect we had, which was kicking around ideas, what we knew about research programmes that other people were doing in the country and abroad. Then we started thinking “well, we could use these ideas to organise some kind of publication”. One idea that came to us was a collection of working papers, which would allow us to make available the papers that were being developed, but that still weren’t finished. Then came other ideas, we had other launches, but they were quite short-lived. The one about the working papers survived; we’ve always done this. We did this with the idea of opening up to other people who came here, who did a seminar, for example, and for that to give rise to a publication, so that these ideas could continue to be disseminated. Naturally, the only concern we had at the time was for the publication to bring attention to the work being done in our field, which was the field of development studies. In relatively broad terms, shall we say.
I’m going to stop for a while and talk about a comment that’s important for understanding this. And that is, we were in a school of economics. The people that made up the centre, with the exception of Professor Armando Castro, who had died, and who was in international relations, were all in economics. But our concern was not to take an approach to development that was focused solely on the economic perspective. And this coincided with quite an interesting moment, which was the appearance of the Sussex School (the first school in the area of development, which emerged in the 1960s). But it’s curious that some schools were beginning to open training courses and centres in this area at the time. The London School of Economics had DESTIN, the Development Studies Institute, which is now the Department of International Development; in the Netherlands, it appeared in the university in the Hague (where it still is today), which was the Institute of Social Sciences. It was a period of emergence, of developing an approach to development from a more multidisciplinary perspective, but we were always concerned about not being understood as economists, we wanted to discuss the issue of development from an economic perspective. Coming back to the matter at hand, basically to explain why we ensured that these working papers were very broad in range and that they could bring together contributions from different subject areas. It was the same concern we had when we proposed that the school should set up an advanced postgraduate course in Development and International Cooperation; there was a major discussion about what it could be. It seemed to us that it would be important to have the word development, which had to do with a certain study area, but the international dimension would also have to be there. There came a time when I thought that the best way was to introduce it using the term international cooperation, because that was actually a much sought after area in Portugal because in Portugal, following the independence of the African colonies – in the 20th century – there was a big move towards cooperation issues. So we decided, ‘we’re going to call it Development and International Cooperation’, and the name is still the same.
From the outset, we wanted to ensure that this wasn’t something that was just by economists, but this always generated major controversies. The issues are a bit different today because economists have virtually disappeared from the actual master’s degree course. In fact, it was an area that went into something of a decline because the younger generation that were studying development issues were studying from a more orthodox economic perspective and had other goals. We wanted to understand development from a more open perspective, one that integrated other aspects more. The master’s degree course completed this and there was the idea – naturally, the master’s, first a two-year postgraduate course, then the master’s – that the products that would appear, particularly in the final work done, could also make it possible to include more and more publications by researchers linked to development issues.
This is a little of the history of how things appeared and developed. And that’s what happened. But we can, if you like, ask more questions about this, but I think that to tell the story of how the centre came about, the working papers, why, what the goal was, what the concerns were, coordinating this with the master’s, there was always this coordination, these are the basic issues.”
Text published in issue n. 1 of CEsA Digital Magazine. Authorship: Marianna Rios/Communication CEsA. Editing: Sónia Frias/CEsA Board and Filipe Batista/Communication CEsA. Translation: Inês Hugon. Design: Felipe Vaz.