Accepted Paper:

Objects, scents and tastes from a distant home: Goan Catholic Brahmin families  


Marta Vilar Rosales (Instituto de Ciências Sociais)

Paper short abstract:

Based on the life narratives of Goan families living in Portugal, this paper discusses how the analysis of domestic consumption practices constitutes a positive contribution to the understanding of their migration trajectories, past and present positioning strategies and policies of belonging.

Paper long abstract:

During the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries a large number of Goans left their home country and migrated to Mozambique. This migration flux between the two Portuguese former colonies involved a significant number of members of the local Goan elites converted to Catholicism. The "Catholic Brahmin families" formed a strong and deeply organised community that played a significant role in the configuration and administration of the Mozambican colonial society. After the independence, most of the Goan Catholic elite migrated, this time to Portugal and other European and North American contexts.

Based both on the life narratives of a restrict group of families currently living in Lisbon (Portugal) and in the observation of the objects and consumption practices existing in their homes, this paper aims to discuss how material culture and consumption practices constitute a significant field to the understanding of these migrants trajectories, negotiation processes and position strategies across the different cultural contexts that make part of their biographies.

The analysis will focus particularly on the objects and consumption practices (food, music, literature) that, like and within the families, also travelled from Goa to Mozambique and/or, afterwards, to Portugal. The discussion of the objects' participation in the families' current daily lives and domestic routines made possible the analysis of their contemporary identity displays and social positioning with the Portuguese context, but also the emergence of significant features regarding their past contexts of integration and, therefore, contributed to highlight a series of dimensions transversal to all stages of the migration process.

Panel W103
Belonging embodied, reciprocity materialised: migrants' transnational practices