Miguel Moreira Pinto (Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Artístico do Porto);
Joana Couto (Cooperativa de Ensino Superior Artístico do Porto)

The Portuguese internal colonization. The country that could have been, but it was not

The policies of internal colonization played a fundamental role in the nation-state building process, as well as in the transformation of the rural landscape. In Portugal, the colonization of common lands (baldios) had the objective of increasing agricultural production, to stop the proletarianization of agrarian communities, encouraging small family farming, and land-ownership. Although already proposed at the end of the 19th century, this process of rural colonization was further implemented in the 1940s and 1950s, the period in which a small number of Agricultural Colonies were built. While such process had produced new landscapes that can be regarded today as a cultural and architectural heritage, they remain poorly known and poorly recognized as such. This paper intends to reflect about the models of internal colonization defined in the scope of the political and ideological framework of the Estado Novo fascist regime. Based on different types of sources, it aims to better understand the significance of these rural landscapes as urban and architectural experiments, as well as to contribute to the identification of such settlements as relevant elements of the Portuguese cultural patrimony. Our conclusions do not fail to take into account the modest scale of the colonizing project undertaken by the Portuguese State when compared, for example, to what happened in Spain and Italy. Far below from what was initially planned and conceived, the construction of only 7 Agricultural Colonies can only be seen as trial run for a much larger agrarian reform that never came –the country that could have been, but it was not– taking the rural settlement of Pegőes as a model.

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Full-text available here: HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1051/SHSCONF/20196302002