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The Colours of the Empire

The Colours of the Empire: Racialized Representations during Portuguese Colonialism

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos
Translated by Mark Ayton
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 308
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  • Book Info
    The Colours of the Empire
    Book Description:

    The Portuguese Colonial Empire established its base in Africa in the fifteenth century and would not be dissolved until 1975. This book investigates how the different populations under Portuguese rule were represented within the context of the Colonial Empire by examining the relationship between these representations and the meanings attached to the notion of 'race'. Colour, for example, an apparently objective criterion of classification, became a synonym or near-synonym for 'race', a more abstract notion for which attempts were made to establish scientific credibility. Through her analysis of government documents, colonial propaganda materials and interviews, the author employs an anthropological perspective to examine how the existence of racist theories, originating in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, went on to inform the policy of the Estado Novo (Second Republic, 1933-1974) and the production of academic literature on 'race' in Portugal. This study provides insight into the relationship between the racist formulations disseminated in Portugal and the racist theories produced from the eighteenth century onward in Europe and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-763-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables and Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    My motivation for examining the ‘race’ issue in the context of the Portuguese Colonial Empire dates from 1998, when I first came into contact with this subject in my new job as a research assistant. I later had the opportunity to expand upon and indulge my interest in the subject with the inclusion of a module on representations inherent to racial discrimination – unquestionably a source of distress for much of humanity – in the fourth master’s degree course of the Instituto de Ciências Sociais of the University of Lisbon, which was dedicated to the issue of global suffering. Although racism and...

  7. Chapter I Origins of a Prejudice: The Roots of Racial Discrimination
    (pp. 7-36)

    According to some authors,¹ racial exclusion cannot be seen as an operative concept in the structure of ancient Greek society. Since no racial conception of the individual seems to have existed in this period, no term existed to designate it (Goldberg 2002). The same holds for medieval society, although in a more complex sense. The word ‘race’ occasionally appears in translations of classical and medieval texts as a rendering of ‘species’, and what it designates is typically ‘populations’ or humankind in general. Ancient Greek societydidpractise discrimination and exclusion, but neither seems to have been based on racial factors....

  8. Chapter II Discourse, Images, Knowledge: The Place of the Colonies and Their Populations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire
    (pp. 37-148)

    The following quotation is from Gonçalves Pereira, a professor at the Universidade Técnica of Lisbon (UTL) and an advocate of colonialization and eugenics:

    Everyone knows the extent of the plan of Albuquerque, who did not hesitate in conferring the highest functions on the Natives of India and led his soldiers to breed with the Native women, at the same time respecting the age-old civilization he had encountered … This was also the orientation that dominated our colonization of Brazil, which was transformed from a region … populated by decadent races into a prosperous nation which Portugal would not deny, when...

  9. Chapter III Exhibiting the Empire, Imagining the Nation: Representations of the Colonies and the Overseas Portuguese in the Great Exhibitions
    (pp. 149-236)

    From the middle of the nineteenth century, the industrial world put itself on display in exhibitions held in major cities all over North America and Europe. Most of these exhibitions celebrated or commemorated a special event, historic or not, or showcased the latest developments in science and technology. They were ephemeral creations, purpose-built and later dismantled, and lasted for no more than six months. On show at these exhibitions were the resources and raw materials yielded by the colonies, archaeological artefacts, the latest styles and innovations in architecture, and the arts in general. Progress was celebrated on every level. The...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 237-244)

    In this book I have shown how the racial theories current in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were influential in Portugal. ‘Race’ is a polysemic term, a word with multiple meanings which can vary according to context and the author using it. The meanings ascribed to it in philosophical discourse vary depending on whether the author is a rationalist, empiricist or utilitarian, for example. Although its exact meaning varies, underlying all acceptances of the term is an ethnocentric (as well as Eurocentric and nationalist) outlook, according to which writers who conduct these analyses place themselves in a superior...

  11. Appendix I. Film
    (pp. 245-252)
  12. Appendix II. Texts from the padrões of Portugal dos Pequenitos
    (pp. 253-258)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-282)
  14. Index
    (pp. 283-288)