The Sciences of Anthropological Classification in ‘Portuguese Timor’, c. 1894-1975
The project aims to understand the interlaced histories of Portuguese colonialism and the anthropological classification of indigenous peoples, throughout the twentieth century. The study will consider these processes in the context of the sciences of anthropological classification in the Portuguese late colonial period. That is, the epistemic regimes and scientific disciplines aimed at ordering biological, linguistic, and sociocultural differences and affinities between peoples. As such, the study will consider a variety of disciplinary variants, methods and traditions of “anthropology”: from biological anthropology approaches (e.g., craniology; anthropometry; sero-anthropology) to sociocultural streams (e.g., comparative philology; social and cultural anthropology). The project takes as its main hypothesis that anthropological classifications and social and colonial order have to be approached as interlaced themes and interdependent processes. We address these wider issues by focusing on a revealing empirical case: the enduring attempts of Portuguese colonial officers, missionaries, and academic anthropologists to classify and chart the “races”, “languages”, and “cultures” of East Timor – formerly named “Portuguese Timor” in the colonial period.
The methodology is historical and documental. The study will take the form of a series of case-studies, exploring the distinct themes, authors and chronological phases of Portuguese anthropology in Timor and the varied modes of articulating race, language and culture in scientific terms: for example, the ethnographies of the judge Osório de Castro, in the early 1900s; the physical anthropology of Mendes Correia in the 1910s-40s; or the anthropological missions led by António de Almeida in the 1950s-60s.
Main objectives of the project include:
- Identification and analysis of documentation on anthropological knowledge of Timor produced by colonial officers, officials, and missionaries in Timor from 1894 to 1934.
- Identification and analysis of documentation on the anthropology of Timor associated with the practitioners (either professional academics, or amateurs) of the “colonial anthropology” school headed by the Porto academic A. Mendes Correia, from 1934 to his death in 1960.
- Identification and analysis of documentation on anthropology and colonial encounters associated with António de Almeida and the Timor Anthropological Missions, from 1953 to 1975.
- Identification and analysis of documentation on alternative directions on the anthropology of Timor during the Portuguese colonial period, from the end of the World War II to the date of the Indonesian occupation of Timor, in 1975.