In this paper we discuss the emergence, consolidation, and dissolution of the research school that blossomed at the Laboratory of Physics of the University of Lisbon under the joint leadership of Cyrillo Soares and Manuel Valadares. From 1929 to 1947, this school flourished by the training of some of its members in European research centers, followed by research activity on x-ray spectrography, radioactivity, and nuclear physics at home. This project was supported by grants awarded by the Board for National Education created in 1929, and then the Institute for High Culture, established in 1936 during the period of Salazar's dictatorship. While the success of the Laboratory of Physics as a research school in a so-called peripheral context follows Gerald Geison's criteria, these criteria are unable to account for its dissolution. Its example illuminates how the interactions of a research school with its immediate social, academic, and political environments may be important to take into consideration. We offer a new historiographical interpretation of the events behind the dissolution of the Laboratory of Physics. Contrary to the received view, we argue that these events were not strictly political, and that discussions within the Faculty of Sciences on the role of scientific research, and on scientific policy generally, generated a hostile academic environment which played a leading role in the dissolution. Finally, we highlight the advantages of rethinking the concept of "periphery" as a perspective, following the suggestion of Gavroglu and colleagues.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.