Jorge Flores

Associate Professor of Portuguese & Brazilian Studies and History:
Portuguese & Brazilian Studies; History
Phone: +1 401 863 2956

Jorge Flores's research focuses on the political, social and cultural history of the Portuguese empire during the early modern period. He is particularly interested in the interaction between the Portuguese society and extra-European cultures, as well as in the formation of cross-cultural images and representations. His main field of expertise is the Portuguese expansion in Asia 1500-1800, and he works with Portuguese and other Western materials of the period to approach the history of South Asia.


Jorge Flores grew up in Lisbon, Portugal. He earned his 'Licenciatura' in History from the University of Lisbon, and received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History of the Portuguese Discoveries and Expansion from the New University of Lisbon. He started his career as lecturer at the University of Macau (1989-1994) and later taught at a number of Portuguese universities before spending two years as visiting assistant professor at Brown (2004-2006). He joined the Brown faculty in 2007 as associate professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and History. His position is sponsored by a number of Portuguese institutions, namely the extinct National Comission for the Commemoration of the Portuguese Discoveries (CNCDP, Lisbon), The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG, Lisbon), the Luso-American Foundation (FLAD, Lisbon), The Fundação Oriente (FO, Lisbon), and the Instituto Português do Oriente (IPOR, Macau). Together with Brown University, these institutions established an endowment in 1997 to create the Vasco da Gama Chair in Early Modern Portuguese History and the Portuguese Expansion. Flores teaches courses on the history of the Portuguese empire (c. 1400-1800).


My first research project, leading to the publication of a book in Portuguese - 'Os Portugueses e o Mar de Ceilão: trato, diplomacia e guerra (1498-1543)' (Cosmos, 1998) - was in the field of maritime history of the Central Indian Ocean. It consisted in the study of commercial, poltical and social networks shaping the "Sea of Ceylon" (a new geohistorical concept developed in the book and comprising the lively world of the west coast of Sri Lanka and the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula), as well as the Portuguese strategies in the early 16th century to control this narrow sea. A set of subsequent publications, especially a collection of articles published under the title 'A Taprobana e a Ponte de Rama. Estudos sobre os Portugueses em Ceilão e a na Índia do Sul' (IPOR, 2004)are parcels of this first research area that I continue to nurture to date.

Working at the University of Macau in the early 1990s made me pay closer attention to the eastern end of the Portuguese network in maritime Asia and consequently pursued research on 16th-17th century Macau and its place in the complex political and commercial games of China and the South China Sea. The study of Sino-Portuguese relations led me to analyse the respective political mechanisms - intelligence, ritual and protocol, the role of interpreters-translators and the social dimensions of political communication, etc - and I have been recently working on these topics in order to understand the structure of the Portuguese relationship with early modern South Asian states.

My current research concerns the social and political communication between the Portuguese 'Estado da Índia', the Mughal Empire and the Deccan sultanates in the 16th-17th centuries. I have been devoting particular attention to the interface between political developments around Goa and Portuguese-European representations of the Mughals. This reflects my ongoing interest in combining history of the Portuguese expansion in Asia and cultural history of Europe in the early modern era. The project will explore relevant articulations between political and cultural history where the construction of European images of the Indo-Persian World is concerned.


Licenciatura, M.A., Ph.D.


See Funded Research


The Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction
The Renaissance Society of America
Centro de História de Além-Mar
Academia de Marinha


Professor Flores teaches a variety of undergraduate courses on the history of the Portuguese overseas empire, European expansion in Asia (c. 1500-1800), and early modern Portugal. He has developed a set of new courses for 2007-2008:

# HIST 1972M Portuguese Discoveries and Early Modern Globalization (Fall 2007)
# HIST 1950E Europe and the Indian Ocean, 1500-1800 (Fall 2007)
# Perceptions of the Other and Ethnographical Writing in Early Modern Portugal (Spring 2008)
# From Morocco to China: Frontier Societies, Cultural Brokers and Multiple Identities in the Portuguese Empire (Spring 2008)

Funded Research

The Everett Helm Fellowship, The Lilly Library. 2005.
Luso-American Foundation (FLAD) Travel Grant. 2004.
Fundação Oriente Ph.D. Grant. 1999-2002.
Fundação Oriente Research Grant. 1992-1995.
Fundação Oriente M.A. Grant. 1989-1990
Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa(ICALP)Research Grant. 1988

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