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Home seta Research Groups seta LOCUS seta PORTUGUESE ORIENTALISM


Coordination:  Everton V. Machado


Portuguese Orientalism will consolidate the following lines of research: Orientalism as an European aestheticism (18th and 19th centuries), Orientalism and Empire, Writing Macao and Indo-Portuguese Literature and to publish a reader on the Portuguese Orientalism and a bilingual essay collection (Portuguese/ French) with partners from Univ. Blaise Pascal, École Normale Supérieure, CNRS etc. It will develop database Orion, organise a course on postcolonial studies (2015) and a cycle of meetings with Portuguese authors entitled Viagens ao Oriente na Literatura Portuguesa Contemporânea. After that it will prepare the Conference Orientalismo Português: Novos Rumos e Reflexões (2016) and continue to publish in peer-review journals.


  • Michela Graziani (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy)
  • Gustavo Infante (Bristol University, UK)
  • Rui Lopo (Centro de Filosofia – FLUL)
  • Pedro Pereira (The Ohio State University, EUA)
  • Rogério Miguel Puga (FCSH – UNL)
  • Matteo Rei (Università degli Studi di Torino, Itália)
  • Filipa Lowndes Vicente (Instituto de Ciências Sociais)


  • David Brookshaw (Bristol University, UK)
  • Paulo Franchetti (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil)
  • Isabel Pires de Lima (Universidade do Porto)

Within this project the research team is currently working at the FCT - R&D Project Texts and Contexts of Portuguese Orientalism - The International Congresses of Orientalists (1873-1973) and developed the project Relance da Alma Japoneza - Genetic and Critical Edition (Gulbenkian Programme for Portuguese Language and Culture  - PGLCP).

Funded research project: Texts and Contexts of Portuguese Orientalism – The International Congresses of Orientalists (1873-1973). Reference: PTDC/CPC-CMP/0398/2014

Keywords: Portuguese Orientalism, Comparatism, Congresses of Orientalists, Interdisciplinarity
Starting date - 01.07.2016
Duration in months - 30


This project focuses on the study of Portuguese Orientalism(PO) within a comparative and interdisciplinary frame. It seeks to reconstruct the cultural networks formed by Portuguese orientalists (PORORI) via their participation in the International Congresses of Orientalists (ICO) and the scientific societies that supported them, such as the Geographical Society of Lisbon (SGL). There were 29 meetings (1873-1973), 24 in European cities and 5 in extra-European ones, gathering researchers from across the continents to debate the oriental studies practiced in Europe and the USA. The thematic sectioning of the programs reveals the evolution of the concept of Orient. The scant critical literature on the ICO and the Portuguese participation shows that such issue has been peripheral. As an innovative research line we propose to transfer it from the periphery to the centre. The importation and production of knowledge, which supported PO, is not studied. It is this gap we aim to address regarding its comprehension and history, for as Gerson da Cunha remarked Portugal had a key role in the genealogy of oriental studies. The cultural influences that shaped PO will be analysed in the texts presented by PORORI at the ICO. Casuistically individual profiles have been described, but the impact of the cultural and intellectual networks by the PORORI is yet to verify. Such can be done by defining and comparing biobibliographical profiles and by analysing the texts presented at the ICO. One needs to clarify the institutional implication of PORORI and how it influenced their textual production, thus shaping the theoretical/aesthetical/ideological frame of PO. The aims to fulfil are to compile and analyse the texts by the PORORI, pinpointing the cultural networks they were part of and where they moved along, their influence on their paths and how they intervened in society based on a tripartite historicity: 1.Until the beginning of World War I (the 19th-century agony); 2.From WW I to the end of WW II; 3.The Post-war, independences, colonial wars. From here, it is expected to map an orientalist ethos through the historical-conceptual definition of Empire/History/Memory and to reconstruct orientalist albums, thus defining the concept of Album in combination with the notions of Memory, Representation and Exoticism. Taking these albums as examples of Cultural Translation of the Orient, and this as paradigm of intercultural contact, the imagetic and lexico-semantic relations will be reconfigured within the discursive context of the ICO, and the metaphorical/metonymic/symbolic networks and rhetorical-stylistic binarisms underlying the discourse of PO will also be deconstructed. This project will contribute to the reconfiguration of the knowledge of the orientalist intelligentsia of European matrix (1873-1973). The operative categories used in SAID's Orientalism (1978) should encompass Portugal for paving the way for Europe’s imperial conquests in Asia, a role neglected in the study of the representations of the Orient. This project is grounded in an interdisciplinary approach, where the post-structuralist strand by DERRIDA and FOUCAULT will mark the textual analyses of the corpus gathered. In line with the postcolonial theoretical insights by BHABHA and SPIVAK, we will examine and compare cultural identities by delimitating their contact zones (PRATT 92), understood as spaces of Cultural Translation and metacultural discourses. The research team was gathered within this interdisciplinary logic, visible in the research practice already developed. It is epistemologically coherent and the researchers’ profiles include Literary Studies, Comparative Studies, Translation Studies, History, Anthropology, Philosophy. Literary Studies – in the culturalist approach as pioneered by the comparatism practiced at CEC – are the right place to develop this project. The scientific work on 19th- and 20th-century PO is now beginning and this team is one of its main agents. The above aims will be achieved in 4 tasks: 1.collection of the texts and images produced at the ICO by PORORI, in Portugal and other European archives; 2.reconfiguration of the existing database on PO to host the research results; 3.analysis of the corpus to identify conceptual/ideological/cultural keywords, reconstruct PORORIs’ biobibliographical profiles and sketch a typology of models of orientalist writing; 4.mapping of the cultural and intellectual networks in which the ICOs' participants, mainly PORORI, operated to outline interpersonal webs/influences in European and extra-European societies. 

Research team:

  • Marta Pacheco Pinto (Inv. Responsável / PI)
  • Catarina Nunes de Almeida
  • Ana Paula Avelar
  • Ana Paula Martins Laborinho
  • Bruno Béu de Carvalho
  • Duarte Braga
  • Everton V. Machado

 Funded research project: Relance da Alma Japoneza - Genetic and Critica Edition


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