Where Are We From? Where Are We Goan? The Religio-Cultural Identity of Diasporic Goans

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Identity as a product of religion, culture, history, and place is the central focus of this dissertation. The Goan Catholic communities in Mumbai and Toronto, who are at the heart of this project, are each migrant communities that, though many generations removed from their ‘homeland’ of Goa, continue to maintain and strengthen their identities as “Goans” through innovative practices. This project focuses on the processes of identity construction as undertaken by members of the Goan communities of Mumbai and Toronto. By taking into account the unique historical narrative of the Goans, and the spatial contexts that shape the way these two Goan communities create meaningful places, this ethnographic project enquires into the religio-cultural identities of these communities. In order to fully engage with the communities as they exist “on the ground,” this ethnographic project involved two significant periods of fieldwork: in Mumbai, India and in Toronto, Canada. By engaging with these communities in such an intimate way, this project offers insight into the particular ways in which the Goans of Mumbai and Toronto maintain their self-identity, their religious practices, their cultural performances, and their ties to the ur-place of Goa. By examining the pathways of connection that sustain these sites of identity maintenance, this project highlights the bridge building that the Goan communities undertake: between the “here” of their current location and the “there” of Goa; and between the “now” of their reality and the “then” of their cultural memory. Though bi-locational, the comparative aspect of this project is not a comparison of Goans living in Mumbai versus the Goans living in Toronto. Rather, drawing on the tradition of Jonathan Z. Smith, the comparison is one that traces the practices of these two communities, side by side, thus providing a side-by-side exploration of each one. In this way, this project is committed to examining how each community maintains their unique historical narrative in spatially-unique ways, adapting their practices in pursuit of the similar goal: maintaining their Goan religio-cultural identities.
Religion, Anthropology, Anthropology--Cultural
Gonsalves, R. (2015). Where Are We From? Where Are We Goan? The Religio-Cultural Identity of Diasporic Goans (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/28697