Transnational Portuguese Women Artists Conference

Thursday 16 — Saturday 18 March 2017, Wadham College

The three most representative names of Portuguese literature are widely acknowledged to be the Renaissance epic poet Camões, the 19th-century novelist Eça de Queirós and the modernist Pessoa, all of whom can be regarded, in different ways, as transnational writers. The fact that none of them is female may reflect the (perceived?) limited capacity of women to contribute to the shaping of Portuguese culture. Yet in the last forty years the most widely translated and internationally circulated Portuguese text, after Camões’s Lusiads and alongside Pessoa, has been New Portuguese Letters by the Three Marias – and this suggests that the time is ripe to revisit women artists’ experiences of cultural encounters across national borders. The aim of this conference, then, is to foreground transnational women’s contribution to Portuguese culture (and vice versa) and to interrogate the nature of their impact in Portugal and beyond, while fostering an interdisciplinary and transcultural perspective. Numerous Portuguese women artists have lived abroad for extended periods of time, and increasingly so in the last two centuries. The painter Dame Paula Rego (Oxford doctor honoris causa) and the writer Maria Velho da Costa (one of the Three Marias, who resided in Britain and then Cape Verde) are two of the most high-profile cases still alive today. Surprisingly, however, their oeuvre has yet to be considered from a transnational or transcultural angle.

Cultural identities are constructed in and through representation. The conference will examine how the meaning of being a transnational/ diasporic artist has shifted across time, and focus on negotiations of creative influence and multiple identifications through the lens of gender. Broadening the scope of this event to artists working in different media, such as painters and film-makers, will allow us to consider ‘language’ and representation more broadly; issues around translatability and cultural difference; inter-artistic dialogues; the politics of reception, (national) identity and belonging, and the transnational nature of culture industries.

Attendance is free. For further information or to register please email

Organizers: Prof Claudia Pazos Alonso, Dr Maria Luisa Coelho and Prof Hilary Owen

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