Doctorate in Cultural Studies, UA/UM: A Unique Programme

Nov 7, 2012

The UA/UM programme is unique as it is the only Doctorate in Cultural Studies programme in Portugal. Since its inauguration in 2010 – a result of the partnership between the Department of Language and Culture of the University of Aveiro (DLC/UA) and the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Minho (ICS/UM) – approximately one hundred students of various nationalities and backgrounds have been guided through a range of academic areas, including Arts, Communications, Public Administration, Philosophy, Tourism, Editing/Publishing, and many more.

Cultural Studies are interdisciplinary by nature, and this Doctorate Programme reflects this. Approximately sixty lecturers ensure that there is a solid academic base which is essential for training the students – the new wave of researchers. The variety and diversity of academic backgrounds of these lecturers allow for the Humanities and Social Sciences to be fully integrated, which is essential for development in this field of research. According to the programme’s co-ordinators, Dr. Maria Manuel Baptista from UA and Dr. Moisés Martins from UM, one of the most valuable features of this programme is the theoretical and methodological enrichment which results from this integrated approach.

Dr. Maria Manuel Baptista highlights the fact that ‘Cultural Studies allow for Culture to be examined from a contemporary perspective, in addition to its transdisciplinary nature which results from the merging of social sciences with human sciences.” She explains that “The focus of this Doctorate programme is to train researchers who are capable of reflecting on and resolving issues relating to sustainable development, business ethics, film studies, gender studies, media studies, cyber studies, post-colonialism and the preservation of national treasures, amongst many others which arise as a result of the multidisciplinary nature of the area.

The current relevance of this programme is reflected in the profiles of the doctorate students and their areas of research. Apart from preparing for careers in the cultural sphere – from creating and promoting to entertainment, media studies and advertising – the doctorate programme also stimulates interest in careers in libraries, as editors, cultural centres and institutions and embassies, amongst others.

Uiara Martins holds a Masters in Tourism and her thesis discusses the relations between women in the kitchens of Colonial Brazil, and how these relations influenced and developed Brazilian cuisine from Portuguese origins. In her opinion, Cultural Studies provides the necessary trans-disciplinary environment in which to rise above the limitations which have been imposed by negative stereo-typing and the silent stories of intercultural relations between the two countries. Uiara intends to finish her doctorate in early 2013, and is preparing for a career as a lecturer.
Sara Vidal is a student from the inaugural class of 2010/2011. She is currently writing her thesis on social representations and power in gender relations, with the support of an FCT scholarship. “Gender studies is one of the more oft-addressed areas in Cultural Studies, particularly with regard to media-related discussions,” according to Sara. Sara believes that “The curricular structure of the Doctorate is extremely well thought-out, as it allows us to explore different areas within Cultural Studies, each with specialists in the particular area, which gives each student the support they need”.
The Lighting Designer, Iara Sousa, is just beginning her doctoral studies. Her area of research is the training of interpretation for manipulating light for the performing arts. Iara, who lectures on the course ‘Dramaticising Light’ at the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Para, Brazil, explains that: “My main interest is researching light as a language, and the theoretical literature and research methods employed in this field. This doctorate programme will provide the necessary grounding to address the deeper theoretical issues which, for many years, have been associated with my artistic work.”