The empire at the margins: subaltern voices from Portuguese colonialism in India
Antonio Alito Siqueira (Goa University)
Rosa Maria Perez (ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute)
Start time:
25 July, 2012 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel elucidates subaltern voices and current echoes from Portuguese colonialism in India. It explores remnants of colonial subalternity and hegemony coming from long before British Orientalism and the Enlightenment narrative justifying colonialism as modernity.

Long abstract:

This panel privileges anthropological and ethnographic observations and non-canonical archival research. Its primary focus lies on a distinct fissure notable in the colonial archive: the silence of native and antagonist voices that is lost or omitted in most official texts. These voices may be recovered from non official texts like bulletins, almanacs, family biographies, diaries and confidential reports and the range of oral traditions.

This silence testifies the suppression of the subaltern in the Portuguese colonial archive, written by colonial and national elites. Narratives of dominant groups tend to be privileged even where not consensual or uniformly shared. Marginal and subaltern views are absent from Portuguese accounts. This gap reverberates in subsequent analysis of Goan society which tends to privilege again the view of elites and to ignore the groups at the margins of the social structure.

This panel seeks to identify groups at the margins of the social structure and non-canonical texts that elucidate subaltern voices of Portuguese colonialism. What arguably makes these 'other' voices interesting is that the radical cultural transformation in the Portuguese colonies (what Perry Anderson called 'ultra colonialism') began already in the 16th century long before an enlightenment perspective on the evolution of societies that informed the 'civilising mission' of the British. The echoes of this early transformation continue to inform the construction and contestation of post colonial spaces.