Epistemologies of the South VI
The Centre for Social Studies was created within the School of Economics at the University of Coimbra four years after the Revolução dos Cravos (Carnation Revolution) of 25 April 1974, and has been headed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos since its foundation. When it was first created, it was clear that Portugal needed to know more about itself and to learn about Europe, given that it was involved in closer integration. Its interests, however, extended further than this. Once the European nation with the widest contacts outside Europe, Portugal was in a favourable position to serve as a port of transit for Europe and the non-European world. From the outset, some researchers have concentrated on studying Portuguese society and some on European affairs, whilst others have focused on Latin American and African contexts, with Asia also emerging as a field of study at the end of the 1990s.
The CES is, nowadays, an academic institution dedicated to research and advanced training in the social and human sciences. It has an extensive body of researchers working in various areas, including sociologists, economists, jurists, anthropologists, historians, specialists in education, literature, culture and international relations, geographers, architects, engineers and biologists.
In recent years, the scientific work of the CES has expanded significantly. Its body of researchers has grown continuously, the number of research projects has increased, international cooperative networks have been extended, work involving collaboration with outside entities has grown and the main mechanisms for disseminating scientific results are flourishing.
The research projects and international scientific networks in which its researchers have participated over the past decade confirm the dynamism of the Centre for Social Studies, which, in 1997 and in 1999, and more recently in 2005 and 2010, received recognition of its scientific merit when it was evaluated as Excellent (the highest classification) by an international panel, within the framework of the Evaluation Process for Research Units of the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education. In February 2002, the CES was awarded the status of Associate Laboratory by the Ministry of Science on the basis of two central premises: firstly, its proven capacity to develop innovative research into different aspects of Portuguese society as well as into changes currently taking place throughout the world, with an emphasis on semi-peripheral and southern hemisphere societies, particularly in the Portuguese-speaking countries, and, secondly, the Centre’s involvement in matters of public interest, namely public policies and new forms of regulation, relations between academic knowledge and citizen participation, and, finally, the legal system and the reform of the administration of justice.
The University of Coimbra is located in the Centro Region of Portugal, city of Coimbra. With a history dating back to the end of the XIII century, the UC is the oldest university in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe. On June 22nd, 2013 it was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.