Call for Papers: Forum Kritika on Goa Before India: Late-Colonial Goan Society and Culture

Goa, and the rest of the erstwhile Portuguese Estado da Índia, was the first part of the modern Portuguese empire in Asia to be decoupled from the Portuguese state (East Timor would follow in 1975 and Macao in 1999). The integration of Goa into the Indian Republic, following its annexation by the latter in 1961, has resulted in a certain opacity in terms of understanding Goa, and by extension Portuguese colonialism in Asia. This is the result of a variety of reasons. To begin with, the specific history of the Portuguese territory has been written in terms of British India. This historiographical tendency, as pointed out in Rochelle Pinto’s work Between Empires (2007), was already inaugurated at the end of the nineteenth century by Goan, especially Catholic, elites living in Goa. This tendency, however, was precipitated by the nature of the final period of Portuguese rule—the time of an intense diplomatic war of position between forces external to Goa, the authoritarian Salazar regime and the post-1947 Indian government. Post-colonial scholarship, marked by a definite methodological nationalism, as pointed out by Trichur Raghuraman in his work Refiguring Goa (2013),  ensured that perspectives that did not align with Indian nationalism were not very sympathetically received. Indian nationalist narratives focus, by and large, on the ‘black legend’ of the Portuguese and Goa’s release from Lusitanian captivity. Portuguese perspectives, on the other hand, are marked by a curious dualism. While some Portuguese accounts often hark back to a supposed Golden Age, other narratives, that consciously see themselves as post-colonial, seek to write back against the Portuguese Estado Novo and, wittingly or otherwise, use Goa as an instrument for the same. Between these various tendencies the lived texture, private lives, and public attitudes of pre-1961 Goa are mystified, misremembered, and distorted. 

One route out of this conundrum would be to privilege close studies rather than grand narratives. An ideal source to begin to reflect on what Goa was before integration into India—its potentials as well as its problems—is pre-1961 Goan writing. The moment is particularly apt not only because sufficient time has passed since the annexation, but also because the promises of Indian nationalism appear increasingly to ring hollow. The present configuration will perhaps allow for more balanced perspectives. In particular, this special issue ties in with the release of a translation of Vimala Devi’s Monsoon, the first work of twentieth-century Portuguese-language Goan fiction to be released by a mainstream Indian publisher. It is hoped that attention to the individual stories that make up this collection of short stories will allow scholars to flesh out the various social, cultural and political contexts of Goa prior to its annexation, allowing for future work to build on the thick descriptions of these Goan contexts.

In wider terms, this issue will consider, in a situation very different from that of the Philippines, what it means to transit between Iberian colonial rule and new arrangements of power, and what happens to the past in the process. It is hoped that such an articulation will lay the basis for a comparative study of Iberian post-colonialisms in Asia, in turn supporting a larger project to craft regional and decolonial histories that are not Anglo-American centric.

In particular, we envisage accommodating contributions covering any of the following topics:

• Goan migration to British India, metropolitan Portugal, British and Portuguese Africa, the Persian Gulf, Latin America and its effect on socio-economic structures at home

• Goan family structures

• The descendentes in pre-1961 Goa

• Caste structure (among Catholics, Hindus and Muslims) in pre-1961 Goa

• Race relations in pre-1961 Goa

• Religious relations across castes in pre-1961 Goa

• The Indian blockade of Goa 1954-1961

• The pre-1961 Goan economy 

• The figure of the bailadeira in Goan society and culture

• Religious relations across castes

Comunidades in pre-1961 Goa

Batcarato/Mundcarato system and its evolution

• Goan theatrical traditions, such as tiatr and nattak

• Gender in pre-1961 Goa Goa

• Arranged marriage (Christian and Hindu, Dominant and non-dominant caste)

• Indian nationalism in Portuguese Goa

• The Catholic Church in Goan society

• Pre-1961 Goa from the perspective of marginalised groups.

Contributions should be 7,000-8,000 words in length and should follow the conventions of MLA 8th ed. The aim is to have a diversity of methodological approaches, theoretical underpinnings, and objects of study represented in the forum. 

Proposals of 500 words maximum, accompanied by a biographical note of 150 words, should be sent to Paul Castro (Paul.Castro@glasgow.ac.uk, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow) and Jason Keith Fernandes (jason.k.fernandes@gmail.com, Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia) (cc: kk.soh@ateneo.edu). Any inquiries should be sent to the same email addresses. Proposal deadline is Dec. 1, 2019. All communication should use the subject heading "Goa Before India."

For authors with accepted proposals, the deadline for submission of the essay will be Aug. 30, 2020. Each essay will undergo double blind peer review.