Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

'I Am Goan [Not] Indian': Postcolonial Ruptures in the South Asian Diaspora

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

'I Am Goan [Not] Indian': Postcolonial Ruptures in the South Asian Diaspora

Article excerpt


Postcolonial scholars have theorized colonization as a complex and contradictory experience of subject formation for the colonized; despite what are often strategic performances of mimicry, the colonized come to know themselves as inferior or as shaped by multiple and mutually competing demands on their identities. However, it is not clear that all colonized groups experience this form of ambivalence or hostility towards former colonizers. This article examines the postcolonial identities of a particular sub-group in the South Asian diaspora: Catholic Goans in Canada. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with thirteen Catholic Goan women in the Greater Toronto Area, we argue that not enough attention has been paid to the multiplicity of identities that emerge out of colonial contexts. For example, some of the participants in this study narrated their Portuguese influenced identities as something to be embraced and even celebrated. More interestingly, several participants demonstrated a stronger connection to the European influences on their identities (English language, Catholicism as the dominant religion and western cultural traditions) than they did towards 'Indian' cultural markers. In fact, the defining of themselves as Goan and not Indian was a noticeable part of some participants' narratives of identity. In this discussion, we explore how the Self/Other distinctions created under both Portuguese and British colonization in the sub-continent remain salient features of postcolonial identities in the South Asian diaspora.


Les chercheurs postcoloniaux ont theorise la colonisation comme une experience complexe et contradictoire de formation du sujet pour les colonises; malgre ce qui n'est souvent que manifestation strategique de mimetisme, ces derniers en sont venus a se voir comme inferieurs ou comme marques par une identite plurielle faconnee par des exigences multiples et en competition les unes avec les autres. Il n'est cependant pas clair que l'experience de tous les groupes colonises aient experimente cette forme d'ambivalence et d'hostilite envers leurs anciens colonisateurs. Dans cet article, nous etudions les identites postcoloniales d'un sous-groupe particulier de la diaspora sud-asiatique : les Goanais catholiques au Canada. A partir d'entrevues qualitatives menees aupres de treize Goanaises catholiques du grand Toronto, nous demontrons qu'on a pas assez porte d'attention a la multiplicite d'identites qui peut emerger de contextes coloniaux. Par exemple, certaines de nos participantes ont raconte comment elles accueillaient et meme celebraient ce qui en elle relevait de l'influence portugaise. Encore plus interessant, plusieurs d'entre elles ont montre une plus grande affinite avec l'apport europeen (l'anglais, le catholicisme comme religion dominante et des traditions culturelles occidentales) qu'avec les indicateurs culturels <>. Actuellement, une partie notable de l'expression de leur identite chez quelques participantes est le fait de se definir comme Goanaises et non comme Indiennes. Dans cette presentation, nous explorons comment les distinctions du Moi/Autre nees sous la double colonisation du sous-continent, la portugaise et la britannique, restent des traits essentiels des identites postcoloniales de la disposa sud-asiatique.

In the whole of India, no people is as denationalised as Goans. A complete lack of national consciousness and the most shameful subjugation to foreign rulers, either Portuguese or British, render the Goan Christian a stranger in his own land. A servile follower of everything foreign to his country, hybrid in manners and habits ... he is considered to be of mixed blood on account of the Portuguese names he has adopted and the western manners he affects.

--Goan Congress Committee, Bombay 1944. Cited in Pramod Kale, 1994. "Goan Intellectuals and Goan Identity: An Unresolved Conflict."


This article theorizes the lingering effects of European colonization on the identities of a subset of the South Asian diaspora: Catholic Goan-Canadians. …

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