12 February: Tropical Orientalism: Rabindranath Tagore's posthumous imaginations on India

16.00 - 17.30

IIAS conference room
Rapenburg 59

Drinks afterwards. Please register if you would like to attend.

Tropical Orientalism: Rabindranath Tagore's posthumous imaginations on India

Cláudio Costa Pinheiro departs from the writings produced between 1958 -2011 by the spirit of Tagore, believed by many to be the Indian poet and political activist R. Tagore, who died in 1949.

In 1958 was written in Brazil a poem entitled "Praise”, signed by "R. Tagore", identified as the Indian poet and political activist who died 17 years before. This was not his first work to be published in Portuguese in Brazil, but probably the first he wrote after his death. From 1913 until today, there were around 150 publications or re-editions of Rabindranath Tagore works in Brazil. Equally, the spirit of Tagore produced more than 20 texts between 1958 and 2011, some of them translated into English or German. Routinely, many Brazilian libraries and publishers classify both the poet and the spirit as the same author.

In Modernity, the imagination concerning colonized contexts (populations and territories) emerges as a privilege of the colonizers, their descendants and State apparatuses. This circumstance reinforces a cleavage that opposes a dominating “North” that produces imaginations as attributes of power, to a “Global South” that is imagined in political, economic, social and cultural terms. But how knowledge and imagination are produced between contexts within the Global South? How global peripheries can mutually imagine each other outside the equation of knowledge production as a form of power and domination?

Like other South-South connections, the history of political and economic direct exchanges between Brazil and India is quite limited. This contrasts with a noteworthy production of knowledge and other forms of cultural imagination regarding India constantly produced in Brazil. This paper is part of a research project that examines the cultural and intellectual production of a Brazilian Tropical Orientalism concerning India. Departing from the writings of the spirit of Tagore, this work investigates the memories of the imaginations concerning India noticeable in publications and iconography produced in Brazil.


The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) is a postdoctoral research centre based in Leiden and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The main objective of IIAS is to encourage the interdisciplinary and comparative study of Asia and to promote national and international cooperation in the field. The institute focuses on the human and social sciences and on their interaction with other sciences.

Last Modified: 07-02-2013