Traders, Middlemen, Smugglers: The Chinese and the Formation of Colonial Timor (18th-19th centuries)

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The Portuguese colonial history of Timor started in the initial years of the 18th century, after the successful settlement of a captain general on the island. It was a troubled process due to the fierce resistance exerted by local powers, the hostility of the local “Black Portuguese” and the Dutch rivalry regarding the control of the island and its resources. Despite the important role played by Chinese communities in the historical processes involving the formation of colonial Timor, it remains an issue barely studied so far. It is mainly due to their discreet presence, which corresponds to a widespread silence on historical sources. This discretion springs from the fact that those were fundamentally mercantile communities that traditionally ensured the supply and selling of goods – namely the export of sandal – in connection with local networks that often escaped the reach of the Portuguese authorities. This study intends to highlight some relevant aspects of the evolution of this shadowy presence and to provide a few research hints about the changes that occurred throughout the 18th and 19th centuries period that fundamentally materialised in the formation of resident communities in the main centres of colonial power.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProperty Rights, Land and Territory in the European Overseas Empires
EditorsJosé Serrão, Bárbara Direito, Eugénia Rodrigues, Susana Miranda
Place of PublicationLisboa
PublisherCentro de Estudos de História Contemporânea (CEHC-IUL)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-989-98499-4-5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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