Neill Lochery major new work is themed "Porto: Gateway to the World" and it has been release this summer of 2020. He is a leading expert on the politics and modern history of Europe and the Mediterranean Middle East and has authored a series of critically acclaimed books on the region. Dr. Neill Lochery is Professor of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at University College London.
Citing Bloomsbury, "Neill takes a grand tour of the city and region of Porto - the city that gave its name to Portugal and famous Port wine - exploring the rich tapestry of events and characters that have shaped its long and distinguished history".
This book offers a narrative of the most prominent happenings related to Porto. Neill Lochery granted an interview to Notícias Magazine to talk about his newest book in a hotel downtown Porto (which purposely opened for the conducting of the interview).
Porto. news portal gives you some hindsight of the interview.
We learn that the title of the book "Porto: Gateway to the World" is borrowed from a phrase uttered by Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the UN and when visiting the city of Porto, in August 1998.
Neill Lochery chose that expression because "it is the perfect summary of what Porto is; the idea that Porto is more of a gateway city than an outlet city is one of the reasons why so many choose the city as a temporary or a permanent basis".
In this interview, granted to Notícias Magazine (NM), the author talks about the underestimated role of Porto in the History of Portugal, Porto's sense of identity and belonging to Portugal; Lochery also mentions the fact that "people work more in Porto than in Lisbon", gives a hinsight on centralism and explains tourism, both in Lisbon and in Porto.
Neill Lochery also approaches the idea of an independent candidate being elected as a Mayor of Lisbon.
Neill Lochery states that his purpose was "to write an engaging book, by using different types of sources that would help explain, in an interesting way, the history of the city under different viewpoints and influences. My hope is that people can see themselves through a history book that would attract them to Porto".
The starting point to such reading might as well be the book synopsis, which reads "Porto: Gateway to the World" as a vibrant commercial and cultural hub, which takes pride of its historic connections with the outsider world".
Lochery admits that despite the fact of having written so much about Lisbon, he soon realised of the importance of Porto while researching for previous books, especially regarding Liberalism. The research for this book, now released, started two years ago, in England and then in Portugal to "extend the knowledge" on absolutists and liberals, between D. Pedro and D. Miguel, respectively.
In fact, Professor Lochery states to NM that one of the most remarkable aspects of the book, which "gives Porto its strong personality" was the war between those two sovereigns, who had different views on the exercise of power and that shows "the clear notion of resilience by the people of Porto, and their need to survive during the siege to the city (1832-1833)".
When the war ended, what happened "was an unusual development", refers Lochery, furthering that in Porto "it meant the beginning of something new, of countless battles among different groups of liberals on the Constitution, (...). and the most interesting was that those debates did not take place in Lisbon, the capital city and where the power and the elites were, but they took place in Porto".
On the inquiry if the role of Porto regarding the History of Portugal is undersestimated, Lochery immediately asserts "Of course it is!" and affirms that "much of what went on politics wise in Portugal happened in Porto".
Lochery adds that another crucial issue regarding the Invicta is linked to the Republican matter. "The first attempt to overthrow the monarchy took place in Porto, on 31st January 1891, when the most relevant political movements were concentrated in Porto".
Also, when asked if Porto might be the most British city of Portugal, Neill Lochery suggests that we should observe the architecture in the city and "look at some of the buildings, namely the Palácio da Bolsa and the Santo António Hospital, and it is easy to picture that we are in Edinburgh (...) or in any other city in the northern England".
Another curious aspect that the professor highlights is the fact that "in general, cities have a unique style, but Porto is rather eclectic". And this affirmation leads Neill Lochery to conclude that "cosmopolitan might not be the most suitable word" to describe Porto, as for Lochery, Porto "means more of a European sense, even kore than Lisbon, which derives, for that matter, of the architecture and how the city was progressing over time".
Besides, for the Scottish historian, "the British feeling" that Porto has always displayed in the past, "still remains, namely in the personality of the people of Porto. For the people of Porto, work is seen as a central part of life", Neill Lochery asserts; "another remarkable thing, which I noticed when I arrived in Porto is that rush-hour in traffic happens a lot earlier than in Lisbon. In Porto there is an entrepreneurial and working culture that is much more attractive to foreigners that wish to invest in Portugal".
Neill Lochery also added that regarding tourism, "on one hand and unlike Lisbon, which became touristic-centric" and "it was almost swept by tourism, Porto, on the other hand, was more careful in that sector".
Despite Portugal being a relatively small country regarding its geographical scope, Lochery considers that the people of Porto and the people of Lisbon "are different"; for Neill Lochery, "people in Porto are more committed with the rest of the country, whereas in Lisbon, people are more self-centred and city-centred", and adds that "this tells a lot of the centralism in the country"
This phenomenon has surprised professor Lochery to a great extent, as "I don't see people in Porto trying to declare independence of the city or the region".
For the professor of Political Science, "these are historical matters that still remain and will continue", and he gave the example that "very recently, there was a public clash between Porto city Hall and the Government on account of TAP".
Lochery was challenged by the interviewer to clarify if it is true that there is "such thing as "the identity of Porto", or could this sound like a cliché; the author replied "of course there is the identity of Porto! This city is very different from Lisbon. It is as if one is in Portugal, without actually being in Portugal", and he went on to point out that "despite that strong feel of identity" or even despite the fact that is common to hear that "Porto is a nation", the feeling of belonging to Portugal is huge".
As the current Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira stood in the local democratic elections as an independent, and was elected by majority vote for a second mandate, Nm asked Neill Lochery if an independent candidate could win the local elections in Lisbon; the author of "Porto, Gateway to the World", replied that "I am not certain that an independent candidate could be elected, even because Lisbon City Hall works as a catapult for a leading position at national level".
Neill Lochery takes part in numerous lectures all over the world; he is also a regular commentator on world affairs and authored several publications in the international press, including The Wall Street Journal and Politico.