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Peripheral Economies of Nature: The linguistic pattern of forests in Lusophone imagination

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Santos
    Dr A Corr
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Within the cultural logic of the capitalist world system, the idea of economic development usually
comes at the expense of forest preservation. Located at the peripheries of this economic system, the
forests found within the the transnational space of the Portuguese-speaking world, in countries such
as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, have been historically targeted in this developmental process
whose importance to capitalism is reified by social pacts which are deeply rooted in the collective
cultural unconscious of these societies.

Departing from the intrinsic role of language and culture in formation, maintenance and change of
social values, this project will study the tree-like linguistic structures within which ideas of ‘forest’
appear in cultural artefacts of the Portuguese-speaking world in search for distinctive patterns and
their correlations with deforestation and preservation. Through the compilation and contrastive
analysis of data regarding the position of the many nouns denoting the space of the forest in works
of prose-fiction at selected parts of this transnational area at key points in the industrial
development of these societies, eventual patterns found will increase our comprehension of the role
of fiction in the process of destruction and preservation of forests.

The project will combine comparative critical methods with insight from the field of linguistics in
order to develop an innovative, interdisciplinary methodology that draws from the experience of the
supervisory team and contributions from the project’s external and international partners. Close
textual analysis, informed by structural linguistics, discourse analysis and ecolinguistics, will be
contextualised within colonial and postcolonial histories and critical approaches, world-systems
theory, in particular ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. Hypotheses formulated on the
basis of the textual analysis will then be tested through distant reading (Moretti 2013), employing
methods from the digital humanities.

Funding Notes

Full payment of tuition fees at Research Councils UK fee level (£4,270 in 2018/19), to be paid by the University;
An annual maintenance grant at current UK Research Councils rates (2018/19 is £14,764), to be paid in monthly installments to the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar by the University.
All studentships come with a minimum of £3,000 Research Training Support Grant. This can be increased, if there are justified project costs, up to a maximum of £12,000.
Funding is available for UK or EU students only. The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).


Adamson, J. and Davis, M. eds., 2016. Humanities for the Environment: Integrating Knowledge,
Forging New Constellations of Practice. Taylor & Francis.
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