Via Goa Research Net
Scholars, lovers of literature, history buffs and die-hard lovers of Goa were treated to a wonderful evening of roundtable discussions to launch the new book Parts of Asia at the King Juan Carlos Center for Spanish and Portuguese Studies, at New York University.
The meeting was hosted with much warmth and Portuguese hospitality by Prof. Cristiana Bastos, a Michael Teague Visiting Professor at Brown University and a social scientist at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal.
Parts of Asia, which Dr. Bastos describes as Beyond Lusotopic Nostalgia, consists of historical, sociological, and anthropological interpretations, ethnographic depictions, political analysis, literary and film criticism; as well as poetry, literature, memoirs, and introspective essays that together should draw attention once again to Portugal’s scattered colonial holdings that stretched from the Gulf of Hormuz to the Sea of Japan.
Contributors to Parts of Asia include noted historians, anthropologists, social scientists, writers, literary critics and art historians, among them Teotonio de Souza, Timothy Walker, Jayesh Needham, Victor Rangel-Ribeiro, Angela Barreto Xavier, Paulo Melo e Castro, Christopher Larkosh, Joanna Passos, Claudia Pereira, and Carla Alferes Pinto.
Two roundtable discussions marked the book launch: the first focused on Portuguese-American cultures and identities; the second, on Portuguese-Asian aspects, was dominated by Goa. Dr. Bastos moderated both panels.
Dr. Onésimo T. Almeida, Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies who in addition to his multitude of scholarly avatars also hosts the bi-monthly socio-cultural talk show (Daqui e da Gente) on the Portuguese Channel in New Bedford, Massachusetts, praised the quiet but prolific Portuguese-American writers, some with roots in the Azores, who were bringing pride and telling stories to their communities in Canada and the USA. And his praise was much justified when award-winning author Katherine Vaz read part of a story from her book titled Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories.
Parts of Asia is volume 17/18 in Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies, a multi-lingual peer reviewed international journal published semi-annually by the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Frank Sousa, the center’s Director, briefly described the wealth of translated Portuguese works that had been published by his institution. The much-admired translator Greg Rabassa then read excerpts from his work.
After a short break the Portuguese-Asian panel consisting of Victor Rangel-Ribeiro, Angela Barreto Xavier, and art historian Filipa Lowndes Vicente assembled and a very interesting discussion ensued. Victor Rangel-Ribeiro described what it was like to grow up in Goa in the first half of the 20th century, when it was part of the Portuguese empire; as a child, loyalty to Portugal had been instilled in him through slanted education, but once he had migrated to India he developed concepts of freedom and nationalism, and wanted first the British and then the Portuguese to leave.
Angela Barreto Xavier discussed how the very nature of the territory we know as Goa changed after the arrival of the Portuguese; she felt Goa could be described as a Portuguese invention, as it had not existed before the Portuguese conquest. The narrowness of that view was challenged by Helga do Rosario Gomes from the audience and Rangel-Ribeiro on the panel.
Dr. Vicente gave a fresh aspect to the discussion when she talked about the paucity of information about Goa in the libraries of Europe until, in an archive in Florence, she chanced upon the surviving correspondence that Gerson da Cunha, the 19th-century Goan polymath, carried on with the Italian Sanskrit scholar Gubernatis.
The evening ended with the audience browsing through the many publications on display by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and a feeling that much had been learned and many friends made.