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.
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.
Jason Keith Fernandes will present a paper entitled ‘The Untouchable Citizen’ on the June 6, 2017, at St. Anthony’s College at the University of Oxford. Drawing from his doctoral research, the paper will suggest that through the linguistic choices made by the government of Goa around the issue of the official language of the state it is not merely caste that is at the centre of citizenship experiences but untouchability itself. The paper will be presented at 2 pm in the Fellows’ Dining Room at St. Anthony’s College.
Image credit: Memórias da India Portuguesa
The lecture will be a part of the South Asia Seminar Series, more information can be found here.
Kaustubh Naik will present a paper titled, ‘Navigating the ambivalence – O Bharat and the Hindus of Portuguese Goa’ at the International Congress on Politics and Culture in Colonial Periodical Press, to be held at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal. The Congress will be held from 22-25 May, 2017 and the concept note of the Congress is available here.
Naik’s paper looks at the end of constitutional monarchy in Portugal and its subsequent transition into a Republic in 1910 as a critical moment in the history of Portuguese Goa, as it enfranchised Goan Hindus into the state administration, albeit in a restricted manner. Among other implications of this moment, perceived as a step towards freedom, the printing and circulation of Marathi periodicals in Goa saw a surge post 1910. Marathi periodicals in Goa have been regarded as the proof of the cultural inertia of the Goan Hindus, who shielded themselves from so called ‘westernization’. These periodicals, post-1910, emerged as sites that were representative of the efforts of the Goan Hindu communities that were repositioning themselves in an ambivalent political future that loomed over the initial half of the 20th century in Portuguese Goa. As an illustrative case for this observation, this paper will focus on the writings published in O Bharat, the longest running multilingual periodical (1912-1949) published from Portuguese Goa. Through critical analysis of these writings, this paper seeks to foreground the manner in which the Goan Hindu communities were mediating the Indian nationalist discourses originating from the British India while simultaneously grappling with the autonomy of the Portuguese Republic.
Dale Luis Menezes will present a paper titled, ‘Global News, Vernacular Print: A Study of Political Ideas in Modern Portuguese India (1880-1975)’ at the International Congress on Politics and Culture in Colonial Periodical Press, to be held at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal. The Congress will be held from 22-25 May, 2017 and the concept note of the Congress is available here.
Menezes’ paper looks at the print-culture of Portuguese India which existed in diverse languages, such as Portuguese, Marathi, English, Nagri Konkani, and Romi Concanim. These newspapers are a source of constructing the intellectual history of modern empires. Print-culture has received a decent amount of attention in recent times with scholars like Rochelle Pinto and Sandra Ataíde Lobo working on the intellectual production of elite Goans. However, we do not know much about the subaltern, working class sections of Goan society. How these publications in various languages engaged with news and events from across the globe, and how they selected news items according to their ideological and political proclivities, and their location within empires indicates how politics was negotiated within the setting of the Portuguese empire. This study proposes to focus on three newspapers: the weekly Ave Maria in Romi Concanim, Porjecho Adar a bilingual weekly in Romi Concanim and Portuguese, and the weekly O Bharat in Marathi. It is only by trying to be as representative of the print-culture of Portuguese India as possible that one can make sense of the global and local circulation of ideas, through the medium of news reports. Focusing on global news as reported in the local or the vernacular press would help us understand the intellectual ideas with which the ‘local’ actors engaged.
Jason Keith Fernandes will present a paper entitled, “As Glórias Desconhecidas do Imam: O Silêncio, a Ausência e o Islamicate na Índia da Colecção Kwok On” (The Unsung Glories of the Imam: Silence, Absence, and the Islamicate in the Kwok On Collection’s Indian section) at 18:30 on 19 April, 2017 at the Museu Oriente, Lisbon.
The “India Visual” cycle is a collaborative effort between the Museu Oriente and CRIA – the Network Centre of Research in Anthropology. This cycle, that include conferences, round tables, and screenings of films and documentaries with the presence of researchers, academics and other persons linked to India and the many dimensions of this visual culture seeks to use visual culture in India as the point of departure for reflections on diverse themes: art, religion, politics, consumption, gender, advertising, and media among others.
Drawing on various Indian pieces in the Kwok On collection, this presentation will suggest that what often appears Hindu is in fact profoundly Islamicate in nature. The term ‘Islamicate’ was introduced in 1974 by the famed scholar of Islamic studies Marshal Hodgson in his book The Venture of Islam. In this work he suggests that ‘Islamicate’ would refer not directly to the religion, Islam, itself, but to the social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims. Drawing on this idea, the presentation 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), culture. Recognising this fact complicates and challenges the way in which both individuals and institutions – such as museums – understand the subcontinent.
Jason Keith Fernandes, a member of the Collective, and FCT post-doctoral scholar at ISCTE-IUL will be part of a round table discussion on “Representations of Islam and Muslims in the Media” which is a part of the “Islam in Debate” series, organised by Faranaz Keshavjee of the Centre for International Studies, ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon. The event will take place on 20 April, 2017 in auditorium B204, ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon.