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Visualizing Portuguese Power : The Political Use of Images in Portugal and Its Overseas Empire
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Images have always played a vital role in political communication and in the visualization of power structures and hierarchies. In the negotiation processes between different cultures, the language of the visual is often thought of as the more 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 volume aims at developing thoughts on the broad phenomenon of Portuguese-Christian Art in the Portuguese colonies further by adding the dimension of the political appropriation of these (and other) objects. How were these “hybrid” artifacts staged and handled to generate new layers of meaning and visualize political ideas and concepts?
The underlying question of this volume’s contributions is whether there were, also in the profane sphere of the visualization of political ideas and structures, phenomena of accommodation comparable to those in the sphere of the religious image: Do we find adaptations to the local artistic and ceremonial customs when it comes to demonstrate Portuguese power in the overseas regions? The contributors aim at analyzing the transmission processes and the development of transcultural imaginations in the sphere of the political use of the image.
With Visualizing Portuguese Power, Urte Krass and a group of contributors examine the visual arts within the Portuguese empire between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. With a focus on the political appropriation of Portuguese-Christian art within the colonies, the book looks at how these and other objects could be staged to generate new layers of meaning. Beyond religious images, the book shows that the appropriation of the visual arts to reinforce important political concepts also took place in the outside the religious sphere, including adaptations of local artistic customs to reinforce Portuguese power.