The Local Making of the Portuguese Colonial Experience (16th-18th c.)




Code   .  CEECIND/2022.07838

Start   .   2023
Duration   .   72 meses
Principal Investigator   .  Guida Marques (CHAM)





Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



CHAM — Centro de Humanidades



Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa


This project considers the political and institutional dynamics of the Portuguese empire building between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. It reverses the general perspective on imperial government and focuses on local power relations. I thus intend to investigate the functioning of the Portuguese empire from circumscribed spaces : the urban centres of Salvador da Bahia, Goa and São Paulo de Luanda together with their respective hinterland. These cities obviously offer distinct colonial situations; their hinterlands, contact situations also different. All of them, however, suggest that these experiences are to a great extent shaped by the agency of locals. What is at stake is the importance to consider the local political arrangements and investigate the ways in which local practices shaped the Portuguese empire. My research gives centre stage to local/regional dynamics and to the interactions between native, colonial and European polities, while focusing on the various mechanisms of colonial violence and the political fabric of race relations. By investigating these issues, my project shifts attention to vernacular colonial and native normative orders. It also emphasizes the several dynamics that existed in the hinterlands. In so doing, my research aims to examine the intertwining of imperial Portuguese politics and local practices, and the influence of colonial and native organizations on the political balance of the empire.



This project combines a global perspective with a series of micro-history analyses of local context, by putting into perspective different Portuguese colonial experiences. This set of surveys will make it possible to produce a more in-depth understanding of the role of local colonial and native communities, while questioning the internal complexity of the Portuguese government. The objective is to address in-depth the problem of local political autonomy within the empire and to examine the agency of local populations in their interactions with the Portuguese. Addressing the functioning of the Portuguese empire from internal areas will improve our understanding of imperial formation. In addition, the cross perspective aims at rethinking the linkage between the different regions of the Portuguese empire. In theoretical-methodological terms, this project intends to contribute to the diversification of points of observation, the development of an off-centre interpretive framework of empires, and the decompartmentalization of early modern Portuguese empire’s political history.







 Guida Marques   .   Coordenator