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History and the (un)making of identifications in literary representations of Anglo-Indians and Goan Catholics Gracias, Marian Josephine


This dissertation examines selected literature by and about Anglo-Indians (Eurasians) and Goan Catholics from India and the Indian diaspora, focusing on its preoccupation with the history of these communities as a site of contested identifications. Especially polemical are perceptions (due to communalist stereotypes or internalisation) of Anglo Indians and Goan Catholics as mimic or intermediary communities who ended up capitulating to British and/or Portuguese colonialist structures respectively. Larger issues for both communities in India and in the diaspora also involve questions of racial or cultural hybridity, and the slippage between religion and culture, particularly the linking of conversion to Christianity with colonisation, Westernisation, denationalisation, and non-Indianness. I argue for a more layered understanding of the concepts of mimicry, hybridity, and resistance in relation to identifications from these communities. By choosing literature set in times of national crisis and historical change (in India, and in East Africa for the Goan diaspora), I have been attentive to the varying ways in which literary characters and narrators confront, project, or elide contradictions of proximity and difference in the production of racial, cultural, and national identity. The main literary texts in the discussion of Anglo- Indian identifications include John Masters' “Bhowani Junction”, Manorama Mathai's “Mulligatawny Soup”, Stephen Alter's “Neglected Lives” and Allan Sealy's “The Trotter-Nama”. In these texts, I have examined how the narrative opens up or circumscribes the agency and racial identifications of Anglo-Indian characters. As well, I make some references to Rudyard Kipling's “Kim” and selected work by Ruskin Bond. The central literary texts in the discussion of Goan Catholic and diasporic identifications include Lambert Mascarenhas' “Sorrowing Lies My Land”, Kiran Nagarkar's “Ravan and Eddie”, João da Veiga Coutinho's “A Kind of Absence: Life in the Shadow of History”, selected writing by damian lopes, and Peter Nazareth's “In a Brown Mantle” and “The General is Up”. I also dwell in some detail on selected short stories by Lino Leitão, and Violet Dias Lannoy's “Pears from the Willow Tree”. I examine the role of Anglo-Indian and Goan Catholic women literary characters, making the case that, for the most part, it is male characters who are given political and narrative complexity in terms of negotiating colonialism and nationalism, and that women characters, when central, are imaged as mediating grounds to advance or block access to male characters who are competing over nationalist and colonialist discourses about race and sexuality. An exception is the poetry of Eunice de Souza where there is critical reflection on the position of Goan Catholic women. Where relevant, I draw from particular areas of cultural studies, postcolonial and feminist theories (including those dealing with psychoanalysis), and writings about Indian history and nationalism. Writings from these areas offer pertinent insights on ambivalence in the production of subjectivity, and on the construction of Indianness in relation to arguments on colonialism, gender, caste, class, secularism, and the religious right (especially the discourses of Hindutva). While the identifications and identity of Anglo-Indians and Goan Catholics appear in the genre of history, these communities are largely absent or peripheral in the area of literary analysis, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory pertaining to India. Therefore, I hope that a study of these communities will contribute to the discussion of religious and multiracial identifications that is increasingly relevant to the field of postcolonial and cultural studies.

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