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Writing and Living on the Stage of History: Women and Intercultural Transits between Portugal and Brazil in the Early Nineteenth Century

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Article of journalSarmento, Clara. (Polytechnic Institute of Oporto, Portugal). Writing and Living on the Stage of History: Women and Intercultural Transits between Portugal and Brazil in the Early Nineteenth Century.  / La escritura y la vida en el escenario de la Historia: Mujeres y tránsitos interculturales entre Portugal y Brasil en el siglo XIX Hispanic Research Journal, 2015 vol. 16 no. 3 p. 239-256 . Keywords:
History | Women's and Gender Studies
Portugal / Poder / Género / Traducción intercultural
19th century | 18th century


This article studies the intercultural trajectory of a Portuguese female aristocrat of the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. Her trajectory of intercultural transition from a Portuguese provincial lady into an independent owner of a sugar mill in tropical Bahia is documented through family letters, which provide a polyphonic representation of a movement of personal, family, and social transculturation over almost two decades. Maria Bárbara began her journey between cultures as a simple spectator-reader, progressively becoming a commentator-actor-protagonist-author in society, in politics, and in history. These letters function as a translation that is sometimes consecutive, other times simultaneous, of the events lived and witnessed. This concept of intercultural translation is based on the theories of Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2006, 2008), who argues that cultural differences imply that any comparison has to be made using procedures of proportion and correspondence which, taken as a whole, constitute the work of translation itself. These procedures construct approximations of the known to the unknown, of the strange to the familiar, of the ‘other’ to the ‘self’, categories which are always unstable. Likewise, this essay explores the unstable contexts of its object of study, with the purpose of understanding different rationalities and worldviews.

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