Jacob Liming Humanities and Social Science
The Failure of a Universal Portugal: Race, Messianism, and The World
My work addresses various moments throughout the history of the Lusophone empire in which Portugal attempted to interpolate imperial subjects into larger universalizing political projects. In other words I investigate how difference was contended with and inflected in teleological narratives of prominent Portuguese figures, emphasizing the latencies, erasures, contradictions, and legacies of violence immanent within these political discourses. First, this iteration of the project hopes to focus on Jesuit incursions across Brazil in the late 17th and early 18th century, which sought to convert indigenous populations and cristaos novos to Christianity and, in doing so, usher in an eschatological Kingdom of God. Here, I hope to excavate the origins of concepts like sovereignty, property and race that remain operative in the lusophone context today. Second, I would like to interrogate secular-republican movements in early 20th century Portugal, which despite an apparent celebration of Moorish heritage, conclude with Portugal’s descent into authoritarianism and state-sanctioned anti-Islamism. In sum, in demonstrating the colonial roots of various ‘modern’ concepts, this work hopes to point to the modes by which a cruel imperial heritage remains latent and undergirds a seemingly inclusive Portuguese state-form and continuously threatens to manifest itself in a violent rejection of difference.