Source: Asian studies in Portugal – State of the art, by Miguel Santos Neves, Institute of International and Strategic Studies, IEEI, Portugal (2009). See the original text here
Although the Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish permanent, regular relations with Asia in the 16th century, Asian studies are a secondary, marginalized area of academic and scientific studies in Portugal. Jesuits in Macao founded the first European University in Asia, the College of Sao Paulo, in 1594. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, interest in Asia decreased, partly because of the decline of the Portuguese empire in Asia. It is only during the 19th century that there was renewed interest in Chinese culture, and sinology was revived in Portugal in the early 20th century.
Structured Asian studies are a recent phenomenon in Portugal. Most of the institutions in this field were created after the late 1980s, mainly during the current decade, and the number of Portuguese institutions involved in Asian studies has been expanding since 2000. Their fields are restricted to South, Southeast and Northeast Asia. The number of institutions with permanent, structured programmes in Asian studies has increased from 3 in the 1980s to 13 in 2012. The main impetus for this development was the process of transition of Macao to the sovereignty of China that started in 1987.
PRESENT ORGANISATION AND FUNCTIONING
There are three types of institutions in the field of Asian studies:
- Institutions purely for research:
- Instituto de Estudos Estratégicos e Internacionais
The Asia programme has two permanent researchers, one senior and one junior, and four senior associate researchers.
- Asiania (Centro de Estudos Asiaticos) at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
A university-based research centre with two senior researchers
- Centro de Estudos Africa – Asia at the Lisbon Technical University
A university-based economic research centre with three senior researchers
- Institutions that combine research and education:
- Faculdade de Letras at the Universidade de Lisboa, which offers a BA in Asian studies and has three researchers
- Instituto de Estudo Orientais at the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, which offers a Masters in Oriental studies and has seven researchers, doing mainly historical research
- Centro de Linguas e Culturas Orientais at the Universidade do Minho, which offers a BA in Oriental studies, a Masters degree in Chinese studies and various PhDs on Far East Culture and literature, Chinese and Japanese linguistics, and oriental philosophies and religions
- Instituto Portugues de Sinologia, which offers courses in Chinese language and culture and has a group of five researchers
- Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau, which is a Portuguese public institution under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
- Instituto do Oriente of the Lisbon Technical University, which offers a postgraduate course on modern China and has nine researchers
· Institutions exclusively for educational activities:
o Centro de Lingua e Cultura Chinesa at the Oporto Polytechnic Institute
- Instituto Oriental at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa
- Centro de Estudos Asiaticos at the Universidade de Aveiro
- Universidade Aberta (Open University)
There are at present fewer than 100 researchers, including a significant number of young people, most working on contemporary Asia.
Analysis of the content of research projects and education on Asia and the Pacific reveals that there is no structured research on the Pacific, and all research activities are restricted to Asia. There is a strong concentration on China, with research covering culture and language, economic development and foreign policy, and Chinese immigration.
The three dominant themes studied are:
- International relations mainly with China, state building and identity in Timor-Leste , and the transition of Macau to a Special Administrative Region of China.
- History, with a strong focus on research on India, followed by China and then Japan.
- Culture and language, focusing mainly on China, followed by Japan. Most of the available university courses address the culture, philosophy, religion and linguistics in these countries, but little research is conducted.
Today, four journals specialized in Asian affairs are published in Portugal:
· Daxiyangguo – Revista Portuguesa de Estudos Asiaticos. Launched in 2002, it is a bi-annual, bilingual (Portuguese and English) journal published by the Instituto do Oriente of Lisbon Technical University.
- Zhongguo Yanjiu – Revista de Estudos Chineses. Launched in 2007, it is an annual journal published in Portuguese by the Portuguese institution of Sinology.
- Revista Oriente. Launched in 2001, it is published annually by the Fundaçao Oriente
- Bulletin of Portuguese / Japanese Studies. Launched in 2000, it is a bi-annual journal published in English by the Centro de Historia de Além-Mar (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Universidade dos Açores).