The Government of Difference. Political imagination in the Portuguese empire (1496-1961)

The Government of Difference. Political imagination in the Portuguese empire (1496-1961)

This project examines how, between 1496 (royal decree that expelled the Jewish from the Portuguese kingdom) and 1961 (the abolishment of the Estatuto político, civil e criminal dos indígenas de Angola e Moçambique), the problems related with the government of the different populations of the Portuguese empire were discussed. The answers to these problems resulted in a set of proposals that have oscillated between inclusive and exclusive solutions. Despite the fact that they have changed throughout time and that some political projects aimed at dissolving the difference, these solutions always entailed forms of distinction between ‘colonizers' and ‘colonized'. Illustrations of these were the legal and political universalism associated with the conversion to Christianity or the political culture of Enlightenment, when the natural equality of mankind was defended and, consequently, the equality of political rights. A similar tension stays behind the idea of mission civilisatrice, which tried to recover the virtues of natural equality, entailing, at the same time, forms of delaying the attribution of the status of equal. From 19th century onwards, the emergent idea of race and the natural differences that derived from it challenged these trends, justifying the option for the Estatuto politico (...) dos indigenas, of 1926. After the 2nd World War, the racist faith and policies would be questioned by luso-tropicalism and the belief on the special ability of the Portuguese to mix with other populations. Some important questions lie behind this description of the long-term processes under analysis in this historical research, about which academic research has not yet provided satisfactory answers. The fact that the responses to these problems have left their traces in the Portuguese postcolonial society and in the postcolonial societies of former Portuguese colonies (Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Vert) makes the relevance of our proposal more explicit. That is why the planned outputs will contribute not only to historiography, but also to the research developed by other social scientists on contemporary political and social problems related with the imperial and colonial pasts. In relation to this, the axes of research will be: a) The ways how imperial discourses about difference and policies of inclusion and exclusion of extraterritorium populations intertwined overtime. First, we will identify the continuities and discontinuities in these forms of thinking the government of difference and the tensions between both. Then, we will discuss the tendency towards the dissolution of difference (related with the conversion to Christianity, to physical hybridity, to education), and of settling the political order upon a legal and political equality, in contradiction with the idea of fixing the difference as a foundation of this same political order. b) The connections between these ways of thinking and of shaping policies with the dominant imperial models (like the Roman), the political cultures of colonial societies and their agents, as well as singular events that had the power to change or to reinforce certain ideological trends. The sensibility to the circulation of ideas, either in transnational spaces or throughout time intends to make visible how past and contemporary experiences were entrenched in the shaping of empire, but also how imperial centres and peripheries were mutually constituted. c) The production and dissemination of the (sometimes tensional) collective memories about previous imperial populations, either among former colonizers or former colonized. \nIf to provide a longue durée panorama on these questions is behind this historical research, the team will concentrate, as well, in symptomatic case-studies and agents. This will permit to smell the aroma of the empire in practice. Since the axes of research are deeply related with the political and legal construction of the government of difference and the construction/dissemination of memories about these experiences, the research team will analyse four categories of sources, either in written or visual formats: legal texts, political debates, historiography and ritual ceremonies (see Plan and Methods). It should be noticed that the members of the research team have already studied different aspects of the problems and of the sources referred above (see CV's, Revision of Literature, Tasks), which means that parts of this research are already under way, a pre-condition for the successful termination of the present proposal. The team is also integrated by researchers coming from different scientific areas (History, Law, Anthropology), a fact that will favour an innovative interdisciplinary approach.

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Empire; Politics; Memory; Ideologies

This project examines how, between 1496 (royal decree that expelled the Jewish from the Portuguese kingdom) and 1961 (the abolishment of the Estatuto político, civil e criminal dos indígenas de Angola e Moçambique), the problems related with the government of the different populations of the Portuguese empire were discussed. The answers to these problems resulted in a set of proposals that have oscillated between inclusive and exclusive solutions. Despite the fact that they have changed throughout time and that some political projects aimed at dissolving the difference, these solutions always entailed forms of distinction between ‘colonizers' and ‘colonized'. Illustrations of these were the legal and political universalism associated with the conversion to Christianity or the political culture of Enlightenment, when the natural equality of mankind was defended and, consequently, the equality of political rights. A similar tension stays behind the idea of mission civilisatrice, which tried to recover the virtues of natural equality, entailing, at the same time, forms of delaying the attribution of the status of equal. From 19th century onwards, the emergent idea of race and the natural differences that derived from it challenged these trends, justifying the option for the Estatuto politico (...) dos indigenas, of 1926. After the 2nd World War, the racist faith and policies would be questioned by luso-tropicalism and the belief on the special ability of the Portuguese to mix with other populations. Some important questions lie behind this description of the long-term processes under analysis in this historical research, about which academic research has not yet provided satisfactory answers. The fact that the responses to these problems have left their traces in the Portuguese postcolonial society and in the postcolonial societies of former Portuguese colonies (Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Vert) makes the relevance of our proposal more explicit. That is why the planned outputs will contribute not only to historiography, but also to the research developed by other social scientists on contemporary political and social problems related with the imperial and colonial pasts. In relation to this, the axes of research will be: a) The ways how imperial discourses about difference and policies of inclusion and exclusion of extraterritorium populations intertwined overtime. First, we will identify the continuities and discontinuities in these forms of thinking the government of difference and the tensions between both. Then, we will discuss the tendency towards the dissolution of difference (related with the conversion to Christianity, to physical hybridity, to education), and of settling the political order upon a legal and political equality, in contradiction with the idea of fixing the difference as a foundation of this same political order. b) The connections between these ways of thinking and of shaping policies with the dominant imperial models (like the Roman), the political cultures of colonial societies and their agents, as well as singular events that had the power to change or to reinforce certain ideological trends. The sensibility to the circulation of ideas, either in transnational spaces or throughout time intends to make visible how past and contemporary experiences were entrenched in the shaping of empire, but also how imperial centres and peripheries were mutually constituted. c) The production and dissemination of the (sometimes tensional) collective memories about previous imperial populations, either among former colonizers or former colonized. \nIf to provide a longue durée panorama on these questions is behind this historical research, the team will concentrate, as well, in symptomatic case-studies and agents. This will permit to smell the aroma of the empire in practice. Since the axes of research are deeply related with the political and legal construction of the government of difference and the construction/dissemination of memories about these experiences, the research team will analyse four categories of sources, either in written or visual formats: legal texts, political debates, historiography and ritual ceremonies (see Plan and Methods). It should be noticed that the members of the research team have already studied different aspects of the problems and of the sources referred above (see CV's, Revision of Literature, Tasks), which means that parts of this research are already under way, a pre-condition for the successful termination of the present proposal. The team is also integrated by researchers coming from different scientific areas (History, Law, Anthropology), a fact that will favour an innovative interdisciplinary approach.

 

Objectivos: 
To examine how the government of the different populations of the Portuguese empire was discussed between 1496 and 1961. To understand how political and imperial discourses about difference and policies of inclusion and exclusion of extraterritorium populations intertwined overtime <p>To identify the connections between the ways of thinking and of shaping policies with the dominant imperial models, the political cultures of colonial societies and their agents, as well as with singular events that had the power to change or to reinforce certain ideological trends.</p><p>To examine the production and the dissemination of collective memories, of a common sense about imperial populations, either about colonizers or about colonized. </p><p>To identify the traces of these discussions in Portuguese and Portuguese former colonies post-colonial societies.</p>
State of the art: 
Academic literature has analysed in different terms the ideologies behind the government of the different populations belonging to imperial entities. Two main academic trends can be easily identified when we approach the historiography about this subject, and these trends somehow differentiate these works in geographical terms. This difference is deeply related with the reception of Orientalism (Said, 1978). Despite the already identified limits of his book, it opened up a new space for thinking the ideologies related with the government of difference, and the ways they were internalized by agents, bringing to the stage the concept of hegemony, which polarized many of this academic research; (see, for example, Comaroff and Comaroff, 1991, 1997). As a matter of fact, relevant works on the ways how, mainly in British imperial experiences in Asia and Africa, but not only, difference was thought, ordered, fixed (or dissolved), disseminated and naturalized, are related with these debates, and with the correlated impact of critical theory, deconstructionism, cultural studies, and post-colonial scholarship (important reflections about these paths can be found at Cooper, 2005) A different direction - until now less "politically engaged' - was followed by the research on the ideologies of imperial government of the American territories. This literature has been mainly shaped by the theoretical and methodological debates of intellectual history (see, for example, Pagden, 1995; Hernando Sanchez, 1996), and these matters have been discussed in more general (and discursive) terms. On the other hand, the literature that privileges the American experiences has developed comparative approaches, allowing a critical view of the similarities and differences of the instruments of government developed by different European powers (Elliott, 2006). This comparative approach has recently been complemented by the concept of connected histories, which intends to relate different imperial experiences, and the ways they shaped each, namely in what concerns the transactions between different political cultures (Subrahmanyam, 2007) The large scope of our project, and the multidisciplinary quality of the team, allow the meeting of these different academic worlds and the discussion of the relevant insights provided by these multiple forms of approaching imperial experiences. Therefore, it is not surprising that we can establish links between our proposals and of those that have discussed questions of citizenship in legal and political terms (Herzog, 2003), but also the questions related to social mixtures, conversion to Christianity, education, and other forms of cultural conversion in different imperial contexts (Gruzinski, 1988; Comaroff and Comaroff, 1991 and 1997), their relation with assimilative or segregationist policies, their interdependence of certain events (Metcalf, 1995) and their embedment with &lsquo;indigeneous society' imaginations and expectations (Bayly, 1988; Gruzinski, 1988).&nbsp; In what concerns the Portuguese imperial experiences, collective works (Bethencourt and Chaudhuri, 1998-1999; Marques and Serrão, 198-, and Bethencourt and Curto, 2007) addressed some of these questions, providing important information about them. Still, Portuguese historiography has not paid much attention to the question of how native populations were classified, and especially to the ways their government was thought as a theoretical issue. The justifications of imperial dominion, its models, and its goals were subject of important studies (Thomaz, 1990; Hespanha, 2001; Ferlini e Bicalho, 2005; Castelo, 1998; Matos, 2006). For 19th and 20th centuries, there are studies where rhetorical devices associated with rituals commemorating the Empire, as well as the imperial iconography, are explored, much of them including chapters on the representations of the colonial &quot;other&quot; (João, 2000). However, the literature directly focused on the ideologies behind the government of difference is rare, and the one that exists privileges Brazilian Indians (Domingues, 2000) and African slaves, studying the ideological aspects of abolitionism and pro-slavery doctrines (Alexandre, 1993). The investigation developed by the members of the research team had already made an important contribution in order to unveil different aspects of the problems referred and in order to cover some of the identified gaps in the research. Cardim, Xavier and Silva have been concentrated on the production of metropolitan discourses about the imperial condition, the main topoi associated with them, the ways they shaped imperial practices, and the tensions that resulted from the confrontation of different political cultures and, expectations. Roque has been interested in the 19th century imperial political culture, the connections between science and empire, the practices of constructing empire in situ, their relation with agency and with particular events (Roque, forthcoming). Another set of works have focused on the production of imperial memory, their dissemination, and the agents co-involved in these production, either in the display of political rituals (see Kantor e Jancs&oacute;, 2001) or in the production of history and of the memory of history (Ramos, 1997).
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Ana Cristina Nogueira da Silva
Iris Kantor
Pedro Cardim
Luis Cabral de Oliveira
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/03/2010
End Date: 
28/02/2013
Duração: 
32 meses
Closed