While we can speak of a 19th century Latin American Orientalism – in the sense of Latin American views regarding Asia, influenced by the Orientalist literature of the period –, it seems to be relatively rare to find intellectual exchanges between Latin American scholars and European Orientalists. Joaquim Caetano da Silva (1810-1873), a Brazilian, was an exception. Coming from an intellectual context that valued strongly the French belles-lettres, Silva was a medical doctor and man of letters graduated from the Montpellier school of Medicine and member of the Société de Géographie de Paris. Researching the historical origins of the word “Brazil” in the 1850s, he corresponded with French Orientalists – namely Caussin de Perceval, Édouard Dulaurier, Garcin de Tassy and Theodore Pavie (professors of Oriental languages at the time of the contacts, between 1856 and 1857) – in search of possible Asian origins for the name. Departing from Silva’s paper Questões Americanas (American Matters, 1863), we propose to examine how the world of scholarship and erudition of the 19th century could create conditions for such intellectual exchanges, and for understandings of linkages between the histories of Asia and Latin America. By examining the answers Silva received from the French Orientalists he consulted, we consider that the information obtained took him away from possible alternatives from English and German Orientalism and led him towards an “imaginative geography” of Asia (in the expression of Edward Said) designed by French Orientalism in the mid-Nineteenth Century that emphasized the French presence in the continent.