By ALBERTINA ALMEIDA
Goa has lost a leading light in the death of Thälmann Pereira, advocate and trade unionist, and State Secretary of the Goa Unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Thälmann was born in 1962 into a communist household. His parents led the party in Goa and were intimately involved with it. This probably is why he was named after the founder of the Communist Party in Germany, Ernst Thälmann. Yet despite this proximate connection, he did not, unlike many Communist leaders, wear this legacy on his sleeve. So much so that even his wife, Rita Dey Pereira, said that she did not, during their courtship, have an idea of the amount of space the red (meaning Communist) flag occupied in his life. It began unfurling during the course of their married life, to use her own words.
Exploring the Islamicate in Goa, Dale Luis Menezes will make a short presentation titled, “Azulejo tiles and the Islamicate in Goa” on September 4, 2017, at 7 pm, at 6 Assagao.
The presentation will focus on the azulejo tiles used in 17th century monuments in Goa. These tiles which were originally produced by the Persians, found their way to Western Europe through the Arabs. Initially Spain and later Portugal, adopted the art of making azulejo to so great an extent that it became indigenous to these two countries. The Augustinian buildings in Goa (Nossa Senhora de Graça [Our Lady of Grace] church, along with the convent of Santa Monica) located in Old Goa are the only religious buildings known to have used such tiles for ornamentation (c. 17th century and later). The complex political geographies in which the Portuguese Estado da Índia was located consisted of many forts, ports, as well as imperial formations such as those of the Mughals, Ottomans, Safavids and so on. Officials, missionaries, and traders from Goa would often travel within these realms. Hence, one can imagine a space that was connected with each other in dynamic ways, exchanging not just goods, but also cultural artifacts. The fact that such dynamics exchanges were taking place regularly should essentially make us seek the many ways in which cultural artifacts were exchanged. One such way of doing this is to deeply explore the ‘Islamicate’, which, as Marshall G. S. Hodgson and other historians subsequently have argued, is cultural and artistic practices inspired and related to Islam, but which is not necessarily religious in nature. Thus, one can easily expect to find Islamicate art right in the middle of a Catholic church or a Hindu temple. By formulating questions and theories about the origins of the azulejo tiles used in the Augustinian buildings, and the political conditions that may have led to their transport in Goa, this presentation seeks to open up Goan history to the Islamicate.
At the outset, I would like to remind you, that we cannot talk of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership without it being inclusive. In the spirit of substantive equality which India’s Constitution makers have envisioned with such foresight, and which the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) also emphasises, to be inclusive, both the process and the result must promote equality, promote equal democratic rights, must result in more equitable access to resources, more sustainable income generating opportunities and advance Development Justice for those who are most marginalised in each of these participating countries, and this includes women with their intersecting identities of caste, class, minority, and other axis of marginalisation. India is currently the second most unequal country in the world in terms of the distribution of wealth and gender inequality has been deepening in our country being one of the only countries where the division of labour and income gap is widening. This Agreement will accelerate further these inequalities.
We want to work in solidarity with our neighbours but any agreement with them must have objectives that ensure basic human rights to food, clothing, shelter, public universal access to basic amenities of water, electricity, and clean air, health facilities, education, sustainable and decent work and income earning opportunities to the peoples in each of these participating countries, and systems of accountability that mean existing human rights and environmental obligations will always have primacy over foreign investor interests.
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.