What’s going on in India? Contemporary perspectives from Portuguese India

Jason Keith Fernandes (CRIA/ISCTE)

July 7, 2022, 17h00 (GMT+1)


Moderator: Maria Paula Meneses (CES)


India seems to be scarily slipping into outright majoritarian rule where an apparent secular liberal democracy is transforming into a Hindu dominated caste polity. It is my argument that this situation did not simply come to pass by some recent accident but is the result of the Hindu nationalism that is hardwired into Indian nationalism since even before British India gained independence. To demonstrate this case, I will draw on the history of citizenship in Goa, former capital of Portuguese India.

I argue that because of its distinct political and legal history Portuguese India offers a useful perspective to appreciate, and critique, the way the structures of British India have impacted on contemporary Indian history. For example, the perspective from Portuguese India allows us to see how a review of the citizenship experiences of Catholics fracture the established Hindu-Muslim binary when discussing the collapse of secularism in India. Additionally, this perspective may also offer opportunities to contemplate the possible futures for India.

Bio note

Jason Keith Fernandes is a researcher at the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA) at ISCTE, Lisbon. He obtained a PhD in Anthropology in 2013 for his research on the Citizenship Experiences of Catholics in Goa. This work was the basis of his book, Citizenship in a Caste Polity: Religion, Language, and Belonging in Goa, published in 2020 which has recently won the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies Book Award (2017-2022).

Jason’s prior degrees include a Masters in the Sociology of Law, from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Oñate – Spain), and a Bachelor’s degree in Law, from the National Law School of India (Bangalore – India). His research interests include comparative post-colonial theory, with a special emphasis on Portuguese-India via Goa, his preferred research field, through which he observes citizenship practices, and the operation of secularism in India. More recently he has developed an interest in Catholic theology, convinced that it has lessons to offer us in the current assault on (and collapse of) liberal democracy.


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