March 2

Workshop for Graduate Students: “Staying Power of the Portuguese in the East”

Led by Dr. Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya
School of Advanced Study, University of London

Monday, March 2, 3.30 – 6 pm
Sakamaki Hall A201

Space is limited. To reserve a place in the workshop and receive a copy of the readings, please email Prof. Ned Bertz, Department of History (

Dr. Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, author of The Portuguese in the East: A Cultural History of a Maritime Trading Empire (2008), will discuss the cultural legacies of Portuguese overseas expansion in Asia in this workshop for graduate students. Other Europeans colonized some of the same spaces, but could not obliterate the strong cultural imprint the Portuguese left behind. Areas of cultural contact can be traced through Portuguese words adapted to Asian languages, and the prestige lingua franca enhanced linguistic transmission across the Indian Ocean. While considering how a small country on the Iberian peninsula sustained a maritime trading empire with limited resources, Dr. de Silva Jayasuriya will demonstrate the remarkable staying power of the first Europeans to enter Asia in the fifteenth century. Alternative narratives to archival sources also will be explored in this workshop, as a study of cultural contact captures marginalized people who fall outside official records.

The first half of the workshop will feature a presentation, including a short film made by Dr. de Silva Jayasuriya. The second half will involve discussion among workshop participants about the presentation and a series of essays (to be distributed in advance) written by Dr. de Silva Jayasuriya.

Dr. de Silva Jayasuriya is a Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, since 2007. She received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from University of Westminster in 2004. She has published widely on migration, commerce, and cultural exchange in the Indian Ocean; Malay and Portuguese diasporas; and Afro-Asians’ ethnomusicological and linguistic cultures, in addition to making four ethnographic films.

This event is made possible by grants from the Rama Watumull Collaborative Lecture Series of the Center for South Asian Studies and SEED IDEAS, both of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.