Rita Poloni is currently a PhD student in History of Archaeology at University of Algarve and a Research Assistant in the project “The Sciences of Anthropological Classification in Portuguese Timor”. She is working on a PhD dissertation titled “Archaeological expeditions in the Overseas Territories: A Vision of Science and Portuguese Society during the Colonial Period”. She holds a MA in Theory and Methods of Archaeology from University of Algarve and a post-graduate diploma in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon.

Her research interests include Colonial Science, Science and Fascism, Nationalisms, Ethnogenealogy and Ethnoarchaeology. In the current project, she is working on the trajectory of archaeological production within the context of the Portuguese Anthropological Missions in Mozambique, Guinea, Angola, and Timor, between 1930 and 1960, in order to analyze the relationship between archaeological praxis and society, culture and ideologies during this historical period.

Selected publications:

Recent articles

  • 2012 ‘A Etnoarqueologia Brasileira Contemporânea: Cultura Material e Implicações Sociais’. Estrat Crític: Revista d’Arqueologia.
  • 2011 ‘Ciência Vivida: A Arqueologia e as missões antropológicas do oficial à prática’. In: Timor: Missões Científicas e Antropologia Colonial, 1-7
  • 2010 ‘Authoritarism and Archaeology in Portugal’. Present Pasts, v.2: 194-208.


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  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
  • Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa
  • Associated research projects

  • Associated research projects

Exploring Colonial Anthropologies

  • The presence of the Portuguese in Timor, a small island at the end of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain, dates from the mid-sixteenth century. For the next 250 years, Portuguese Catholic missionaries, soldiers, traders, officials, governors, scientists, and military became regular company of the Timorese populations. First based in Lifau (Oecusse), and since 1769 based in Dilly, the Portuguese claimed sovereignty and exercised colonial government over the Eastern half of the island. Today’s nation Republic of Timor-Leste, went by the name of ‘Portuguese Timor’, a colonial province of Portugal, until the Indonesian occupation in 1975. Throughout this long colonial period a great and rich variety of published and unpublished documents was produced by colonial agents.

    From manuscript letters to administrative reports, travelogues, journal articles, or book-length texts, the Portuguese colonial archives offer an abundant field of important material about the past and present of the bodies, languages, and cultures of Timor-Leste peoples. It is this varied and complex colonial material on the history and anthropology of Timor that this research project aims at revealing, exploring, and critically analyze.

    In engaging with these archives, we are concerned not just with how they illuminate former anthropological understandings and colonial encounters between Indigenous and Europeans; we also aim at exploring how they shape current understandings and might help the creation of a post-colonial moment for the history and anthropology of Timor-Leste.

Welcome to the Histo

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Conference "Crossing

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Conferences on Timor

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Conference Proceedin

On this website you will find the open-access online publication ...