ORION – PORTUGUESE ORIENTALISM – Comparatistas – english version


P.I.: Catarina Nunes de Almeida


Portugal has had a long tradition in travel writing ever since the Discoveries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the first Western images of China and Japan were spread out across Europe through Portuguese writing, which would present those places as utopian societies. Since this period, the representation of the Far East – the so-called “Orient” – has been an ongoing topic not only in travel writing but also in painting, music, and other arts. Since the late 18th century, Europe has undergone an “Oriental Renaissance” which culminated in the 19th and early 20th centuries with the expansion of European empires into Asia. This imperial relationship reshaped Orientalism as part of the European material civilization and culture. Said’s Orientalism considers the artistic experience of British, French and American empires as a unit, which in our view could also comprise the Portuguese Empire.

The Portuguese colonial empire came to an end a few years ago, with the handover of Macau to China in 1999, so it is now possible to study Portuguese Orientalism from a postcolonial perspective. Macau represents an important topic in this research project in view of its past geographic relevance as interface between worlds (China, Japan, India, and Europe), but also given the symbolic meaning of “macau” as door/harbour (porta/porto) as explored by artistic achievements.


This research intends to focus on the following topics:

  • Orientalism as European aestheticism (19th and early 20th centuries);
  • Orientalism and empire;
  • Interart Studies: representations of the Far East;
  • Writing Macao;
  • Goan Literature in Portuguese;
  • Comparative Philosophies between Asia and Portugal;
  • Portuguese Asia in the Visual Arts;
  • The East and West in the colonial press.


Everton V. Machado
Ana Paula Avelar
Ana Paula Laborinho
Bruno Béu
Catarina Nunes de Almeida
Daniela Spina
Duarte Drumond Braga
Fernanda Gil Costa
Filipa Lowndes Vicente
Jiayi Yuan
Marta Pacheco Pinto
Mônica Simas
Pedro Schacht Pereira
Rogério Miguel Puga
Sandra Ataíde Lobo


  • Update and maintenance of the database OrionBase.
  • Update and maintenance of the database India@Portugal.
  • Regular participation in the international research network on Orientalism Les Orients désorientés, coordinated by Jean-Pierre Dubost (Université Blaise Pascal), in collaboration with several European universities and research teams. Since 2011.
  • International Conference Images of Asia in Portuguese Cinema. FLUL and Cinemateca Portuguesa. March 16-17, 2017.
  • Teaching on the postgraduate seminar “Orientalismos – Cultura, Política e Literatura” in the scope of the Programme in Comparative Studies (MA, 1st semester 2015-2016); Everton V. Machado and Catarina Nunes de Almeida (MA/PhD, 2nd semester, 2014-2015).
  • International Conference ACT 32: O Oriente em Tradução – línguas, literaturas e culturas asiáticas no espaço luso. FLUL & Fundação/Museu do Oriente, November 26-28, 2015.
  • Encontro Internacional Pensando Goa. [in partnership with the University of São Paulo]. Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, October 28-30, 2015.
  • Cycle of Talks «Os Labirintos da Viagem: o Oriente como destino literário para o século XXI». Fundação José Saramago, from October 2014 to May 2015.
  • Organization of the open seminar “Fernando Pessoa e Oriente”, in collaboration with the Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon (CFUL). Museu do Oriente, March 2013.
  • Organization of the international colloquium ACT 27 – Portuguese and Post-colonial Goa: Literature, Culture, and Society. FLUL, 24-25 May 2012.
  • Organization of 2 workshop cycles at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, all lectured by invited speakers; the first cycle was on the topic “Portuguese Orientalism: On Its Signifying and Signified” (it included 5 monthly workshops from January to May); the second cycle was on the topic “Portuguese Orientalism: Space of Interdisciplinary Dialogue” (it has so far included 3 monthly workshops from September to November). 2012.
  • ECSAS panel on “Portuguese Orientalism: Post-colonial Perspectives”, which took place in ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute on July 25-28, 2012.


This work is financed by national funds through the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., within the scope of the project UIDB/00509/2020 and UIDP/00509/2020.