By DALE LUIS MENEZES
Much too often, the statements of political parties and the rhetoric that accompanies it hides more than it reveals. It obscures the issues faced by the people in the interest of maintaining one party’s legitimacy to continue to rule. Alternately, facts and truth are selectively used by the opposition to turn the heat on those who are in power.
In this context, let us consider some recent statements made by members of political parties. As reported in an English-language daily, Curtorim MLA, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenço claimed that beef was not banned during the Congress regime in Goa. His reason for the claim was that, except for the meat of female cattle (or cow), other bovine meat was available to the Goan people for consumption. Lourenço was reacting to the recent statement made by BJP’s Amit Shah, who said that the beef-ban was in existence in Goa before prior to the BJP and added that “it was there when the Congress government was in power, but no one posed questions to the Congress”.
By AMITA KANEKAR
The Modi government clearly wants to keep the heat on, regarding the issue of beef. In the wake of a number of lynchings of mainly Muslims and Dalits by gaurakshaks on the issue of cow slaughter, a normal government would have at least claimed concern and talked about taking action. But this government chose to pass a national directive against cow slaughter instead. In other words, let the violence continue. It was followed by some virulent hate-speech in Goa, demanding death to beef-eaters, which has met with the expected lack of response from the Goa government; we can expect worse to come.
By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA
There was a charge made recently by BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta that the protest by people determinedly raising their voices under the banner of ‘Not in My Name’, against targeted lynching of Muslims was an extravagant display of rootless cosmopolitanism. The responses have been “we are not rootless cosmopolitans”. We are often quick to jump into defensive mode in this fashion, and then try to prove how we are more rooted than Baba Ramdev or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Yogi Adityanath. In other words, we try to show how we are superior to these in being rooted. But we might need to ask whether rootless cosmopolitanism is necessarily the bad thing it is suggested to be. Does its problem depend on what lens one is looking at things from?
R. Benedito Ferrão will present a paper titled ‘With this Sea-Port I thee Wed: Of Royal Dowries and Self-Makingin Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children‘ at the Oceans and Shores: Heritage, People, and Environments conference – III CHAM International conference, FCSH/Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 12-15 July, 2017.
Ferrão’s paper will examine how Rushdie’s novel, Midnight’s Children, uses the early modern history of sea-ports and maritime trade to underscore the postcolonial location of characters and their Lusophonic connections as subaltern legacies subsumed in post-British India.
In having Mary Pereira/Braganza be Goan, Midnight’s Children brings into focus the significant utility of his character’s native land in the European imperial history of South Asia. Mary Pereira evokes the figure of Goa as one of the earliest colonies and then the last foreign dominion (1510-1961) in what was to become modern day India. In adopting the Braganza moniker, the character recalls an important historical moment in the making of coloniality. The 1662 marriage of Catherine of Braganza to Charles II was orchestrated to secure the relationship between two colonial powers. Through the alliance, England received the port city of Bombay as dowry.
Further, in renaming herself after the Portuguese infanta, Mary Pereira also evokes that other Catherine. On 25 November, 1510, Afonso de Albuquerque took the port of Goa. It was the feast day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and the Portuguese conqueror believed she had overseen his defeat of the Muslim ruler of the enclave. This conquestchanged the course of commercial relations between Europe and Asia, displacing Middle Eastern trade hegemonies. Simultaneously, the site where Saint Catherine discovered her faith – North Africa – doubly pagan and quintessentially “other” in the later Occidental imagination is also the continental location from which sprung the Moors: Muslims who once ruled over Iberia.
By centring on the iconic naming and renaming of Mary Pereira in Midnight’s Children, the paper argues that the novel uses the history of the ports of Goa and Bombay to challenge the Anglo-centrism of postcolonial thought in relation to India, especially by highlighting maritime commerce.
More information about the conference here.
By DALE LUIS MENEZES
The dust kicked up during the recently held Panchayat elections in Goa has almost settled down. As in all elections, this Panchayat election also witnessed massive power struggles. While it is true that the way power operates would continue in ways that destroy Goa’s natural and human resources, yet in the meanwhile, we can still think why the system stays the way it does. One thing is very clear, a large number of people by participating in ‘grass-roots democracy’ are staking their claim for power – power that is otherwise concentrated in the hands of a few. One of the commonest reasons given for such power struggles, and the fair and foul means employed to gain power, is greed of the people. But is there more to the story? Can there be another explanation for the way the masses behave as they do?
Vishvesh Kandolkar and Pithamber Polsani will present a paper titled ‘The Ruination of the Inconvenient: Eroding Goa’s Intangible Heritage’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.
In this paper, the authors argue that the architecture of monuments is not only emblematic of the history of a place, but also the lived experience of its people. Subsequent to Goa’s annexation by India, the State’s political dispensation has continued to obscure the history of the Portuguese empire in Goa while conveniently using the heritage of the Estado period in promotion of its tourism industry. The State’s attitude to heritage conservation has been biased towards addressing only the tangible components of heritage, such as architecture, while sidelining such intangible heritage as minoritised people who also require protection.
Amita Kanekar will present a paper titled ‘The Politics of Renovation: The Disappearing Architecture of Goa’s Old Brahmanical Temples’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.
Kanekar’s paper will look at the unique architecture of Goa’s old Brahmanical shrines that is under threat today, and one of the reasons seems to be a perception that it is not Hindu enough. Goa’s centuries-long Islamicate and Iberian connections have left behind a heterogeneous culture in many aspects, including architecture. The many Brahmanical temples built from the seventeenth century onwards are examples of this, their hybrid forms belonging as much to the Islamicate world and the European Renaissance as to local building traditions. But, while these temples still stand today and attract increasing numbers of worshippers, their original architecture is disappearing, to be replaced by forms and elements from outside Goa. This paper examines the attempts to erase these unique forms, and the relation of this to the social, political, and legal context.
R. Benedito Ferrão will present a paper titled ‘A Garden Overgrown: Panjim’s Garcia da Orta Park and the Remaking of Eco-Cultural Legacies’ at the conference on Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way, to be held at the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, from 5-8 July, 2017.
Ferrão’s paper will dwell on Garcia da Orta’s text Colóquios dos Simples e Drogas e Cousas Medicinias da Índia (1563) which catalogues regional plant-life and da Orta’s legacy in contemporary Goa. Despite da Orta’s life’s work, his Catholicism appears to be an issue for the State. In seeking to orchestrate other legacies for Goa, local governmental machinations have been imbued with India’s right-wing politics in the quest for a Hindu historical consciousness for the once Portuguese region. For example, in 2012 the State sought to situate an architectural monument at this park to commemorate the service of seventeenth century Saraswat Brahmin physicians who had been involved in compiling another botanical text – the Hortus Malabaricus (1678-1693). Whether these botanists may have actually been Goan seems irrelevant, for their caste lineages evoke those of Goa’s contemporary political elite, signaling the Brahmanical Hindu hegemony of the Indian nation-state.
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO THE END OF THE YEAR. INCONVENIENCE CAUSED IS REGRETTED.
In March this year Dr. Jason Keith Fernandes was invited to choose one piece from the Museu Oriente’s Kwok On collection (Lisbon) and make a presentation as a part of their India Visual cycle.
Choosing the idol of the Goddess Yellamma as a starting point, in a reprise of his presentation at the Museu Oriente, Dr. Fernandes will suggest that what often appears Hindu is in fact also profoundly Islamic in nature.
“The Unsung Glories of the imam: Silence, Absence and the Islamicate in the Kwok On Collection’s India holdings” will demonstrate the manner in which practices associated with the Shia faith, and the historic figure of Imam Hussein are central to much South Asian (Indian), and indeed Goan culture.
Jason Keith Fernandes was awarded a Doctorate in anthropology for his research that examined the conflicts around the demand for the recognition of Konkani in the Roman script in Goa’s Official Language Act. Jason came to anthropology after a Bachelor’s degree from the National Law School of India, Bangalore and a Master’s degree from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law. A recipient of various scholarships, he has worked in the developmental sector, taught at the National Law School, and is a contributor to various local and national newspapers.
Dr. Fernandes is currently a post-doctoral scholar at the University Institute of Lisbon.
By JASON KEITH FERNANDES
A violent altercation in the village of Mercês between a busload of tourists from Maharashtra and about four residents of the village caused a stir across Goa.