Diaspora and the Goan Experience - 1

By Cielo Griselda Festino 


(Goan literature and culture was one of the fields of study of Cielo Griselda Festino’s doctorate advisor, Lynn Mario T. Menezes de Souza, professor of English at the department of Modern Languages, Sao Paolo University, Brazil. Ms. Festino, an Argentine, says that she came to be acquainted with the discourse of diaspora through the graduate course “Cartographies of Diasporic Literary Spaces” taught at Sao Paolo University by Prof. Laura Zuntini de Izarra in the second term of 2000.

For her thesis on the Goan diaspora, Ms. Festino drew heavily upon “Goan literature: A Modern Reader,” a special issue of the Journal of South Asian Literature, edited by Prof. Peter Nazareth in 1983.

Ms. Festino has an MA in English language and North American English literature. She is currently reading Indian literature in English for her Ph. D.)



 The aim of this paper is to consider the discourse of diaspora in terms of the way it has been textualized by Goan people in their literature. In so doing, the present discussion will focus on the reasons for their emigration as well as the relationship between the Goans abroad, the homeland and the host society. 

Key words: Diaspora; diaspora triangle; “myth of homeland and return”. 


O propósito do presente artigo é fazer algumas reflexões sobre o discurso diaspórico, em termos da experiência da sociedade goesa, considerando a maneira em que tem sido textualizado na sua tradição literária. Levamos em conta os motivos da diáspora como assim também a relação entre os goeses na diáspora, a patria e o país de adoção.   

Palavras-chave: diáspora; triângulo diaspórico; o mito do  retorno.



Goan society is marked by the continuous flow of their people from their homeland, Goa --the former seat of the Portuguese overseas possessions in Asia, now part of the Indian Union-- to other parts of India, Africa, Europe, America and the rest of the world. This diasporic condition is deeply ingrained in their literary tradition.

Considering the way it has been fictionalized, in the present discussion I propose to make some reflections upon the reasons for this diaspora as well as the identity conflict it generates. Also, I will focus on the "diaspora triangle" that is to say, the relationship between the Goans in the diaspora with their homeland and the host society where they reside and, eventually, I will refer to what William Safran calls "the myth of homeland and return"(1999:375), since, as he explains, the diasporic consciousness generated by this dislocation from the native soil is tightly tied to an  idealized vision of the ancestral site and its past.

 Much has already been written on this topic. Therefore, I will draw from the ample theoretical body on the question of the diaspora community. Not being a Goan myself, I will borrow from the reflections of Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes, a foremost researcher on Goan out-migration and Lambert Mascarenhas, essayist, fiction writer and one of the heads of the Goan Liberation Movement from Portugal in1961. For the study of the literary texts I will follow the Goan Literature: A Modern Reader[1], a special issue of the Journal of South Asian Literature (1983), edited by Peter Nazareth, an expatriate himself born in Uganda of Goan parents, who is a novelist, essay writer and professor of literature at present residing and teaching at Iowa University, USA.


1 From now on, the Goan Literature: A Modern Reader will be referred to as “Goan Reader” every time a text anthologized there is cited in the present article.


 Leaving Goa and Dreaming of Homecoming [overleaf]


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