Seminar on Ethnographic Observation

Next 15th April (Wednesday) a member of LXNIGHTS will offer a seminar at the University of Évora. The seminar entitled  “The place of ethnographic observation in qualitative research” will be presented by Daniel Malet Calvo to the sociology students of “Laboratory of Qualitative Analysis”, a subject taught by Rosalina Maria Pisco Costa. The presentation aims to contextualize the ethnographic inquiry as a methodological innovation belonging to anthropological tradition. In this sense the “participant observation” and other fieldwork innovations used for the first time by anthropologists in analyzing diverse social settings, are today broadly considered as the empirical foundations of qualitative research.


The seminar will provide a methodological starting point to the collective project “Through doors and side streets: Getting older in Évora’s Historical Center” in which the students will interview and observe the everyday life of old people in the public spaces of this medium size Portuguese city. After learning the theoretical and epistemological foundations of fieldwork, the students will get into Evora’s provincial urban environment to gather data in significant public places. The aim is to characterize old people’s socio-demographic profiles and describe their everyday lives in these urban spaces.

The object of this seminar, older people daily practices in a provincial city, seems to be far from Lisbon’s young-oriented nightlife leisure. However, in both urban environments the methods of ethnography are equally pervasive and relevant in understanding the social actors and their relation to the city. Social data is meaningful only when unveiled through ethnographic fieldwork.

Vintage Nightlife in Lisbon

One of the most important trends in Lisbon’s nightlife -following the international tendencies- is the aesthetic embracing of the “vintage” style in a growing number of nightspots and venues. Maybe the leading figure inspiring this nightscape transformation -and certainly the most well-known example of this trend- is the Pensão Amor, a former brothel turned into a crowded night bar on the way from the Bairro Alto to Cais do Sodré (the two most important nightlife areas in the city center).


However, the simulated bohemian and burlesque atmosphere, the prostitution-based iconography and the aseptic sexuality that emerge from the objects exposed in every corner of the place, obscure the role of “vintage” style in the gentrification of Lisbon’s nightscapes.

Jordi Nofre’s contribution in “Fennia. International Journal of Geography” shows how this new socially sanitized bohemian nightlife (mainly oriented towards the local new middle classes and their international peers such as tourists and Erasmus students) is actually displacing old forms of working-class leisure and decadent nightlife.

Here you can find Nofre’s article: “Vintage Nightlife”: Gentrifying Lisbon downtown“, an excellent case study providing relevant guidelines for our research in Lisbon.

New article on Erasmus in Lisbon

While waiting for the posting of the next episode of Erasmus lives in Lisbon (very soon!), a new article in portuguese has been published in the brazilian journal “Antropolítica: Revista Contemporânia de Antropologia”. This is the abstract:

The ERASMUS Programme to study abroad is well known throughout Europe, involving about 250,000 exchange students traveling annually through 33 countries. The principles of cultural exchange, education in diversity and transnational mobility make it the banner program for the ideals of the European Union and has a high degree of popularity and consideration among politicians and common people. Moreover, the experiences of personal discovery, emancipation and openness to the cosmopolitanism of those students when they are abroad, constitute an essential “rite of passage” of a particular social group of youth characterized for embodying “Mobiliy Capital”. The “Erasmus”, considered always as a mixture between “student migration” and “youth tourism” are wondered or shocked when they first arrive to a country different than theirs. They adapt or reject their initial contexts and contacts, seeking for a new lives, to finally “discover themselves” in new places (and through new selves). Their Erasmus period is characterized by the transition processes of their lives towards new subjectivities, that are always defined by the strategies of distinction and differentiation of themselves in opposition to other young people in the new context. In this article we will present the life pathways and patterns of adaptation of six foreign students in Lisbon according to their narratives of youth mobility and urban adjustment.

Here you can find the full text article: “Becoming other person”: narratives of subjective transformation and processes of distinction among the young Erasmus students in Lisbon