Imperial Propaganda and the Representation of Otherness in Portugal in the Early Modern Times
PDF, 12 pages
This paper will try and investigate to what extent the visual representation of elements connected to its colonies served to legitimize Portuguese power in the first half of the 16th century. Was the representation of the exotic something exceptional, or was it a fundamental brick in the visual construction of the Portuguese empire? Was the quotation of these foreign elements meant to merely signify the universality of Portugal’s power, or were there other connotations to these borrowings? Did artists intend to embrace otherness or to praise the nation by portraying its conquests? In doing so, the paper will also deal with the examination of the key word “Manueline” in Portuguese art history and historiography.
Images have always played a vital role in political communication and in the visualization of power structures and hierarchies. They gain even more importance in situations where non-verbal communication prevails: In the negotiation processes between two (or more) different cultures, the language of the visual is often thought of as the most effective way to acquaint (and overpower) the others with one’s own principles, beliefs, and value systems. Scores of these asymmetrical exchange situations have taken place in the Portuguese overseas empire since its gradual expansion in the 16th century.
This book offers new insights into the broad and differentiated spectrum of functions images could assume in political contexts in those areas dominated by the Portuguese in early modern times. How were objects and artifacts staged and handled to generate new layers of meaning and visualize political ideas and concepts? And what were the respective reasons, means, and effects of the visualization of Portuguese power and politics?