Putting Portugal on the Map

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João Ferrão

PhD in geography by the Universidade de Lisboa and Senior Researcher at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais
of the Universidade de Lisboa. 
Coordinator of several projects and research networks and consultant in the
fields of economic and social geography, territorial planning, and local and regional development.
 He coordinates
several studies on evaluation of public policies for thePortuguese government and the European Commission.
 He was Secretary of State for Land and City Planning during the 17th Constitutional Government.


This paper argues the need to “put Portugal on the map” in a double sense: in a prospective way, in order to place the country on the required map(s), something which entails strategic vision and capacity for action; and in an analytical way – to enable us to understand Portugal from the map(s) it is part of, which presupposes a capacity to analyse and understand the current state of affairs. By drawing inspiration from the polymorphic vision on the spatialities of contemporary societies and economies defended by Jessop, Brenner and Jones (2008), we propose the creation of a unifying reference framework to “put Portugal on the map”, using a combination of five elements: territory as a geographic location; territory as a unit of reference of the nation-state; places; geographic scales; and networks. The polymorphic nature of the spatialities that characterize, or should characterize, Portugal’s place in the world reflects several, and even contradictory, ethical values, interests, preferences, and options. Accordingly, the supported polymorphic spatialities ought to stir up controversy based on knowledge and arguments that are solid from a theoretical and empirical stance, and should make explicit the objectives and values they are based on.


Geography; Geopolitics; Geoeconomics; Portugal; Territory; Place; Geographic Scale; Network

How to cite this article

Ferrão, João (2010) "Putting Portugal on the map". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, N.º 1, Autumn 2010. Consulted [online] on date of the last visit, janus.ual.pt/janus.net/en/arquivo_en/en_vol1_n1/en_vol1_n1_art8.html

Article received in July 2010 and accepted for publication in September 2010