Ecologies of Power and Goan Modernity
In keeping with the shift of the modern Indian nation-state to the religio-political right, minority legacies in such regions as the Malabar and Konkan coasts are either being obfuscated or rehistoricized. To prove my point, I employ two botanical texts from the 16th and 17th centuries. The former, the Colóquios dos Simples e Drogas e Cousas Medicinias da Índia, was written by Garcia da Orta, a Jewish-Catholic converso who lived and died in Portuguese Goa under the threat of the Inquisition. In its efforts to represent its past and present as a modern quasi city-state in line with other Indian metros, the Goan State chose, in 2012, to commemorate the 17th century Hortus Malabaricus, an ecological treatise that, curiously, comes from the Malabar, because among its contributors were Saraswat Brahmins with a dubious connection to Goan history. That this commemoration occurred on the uncelebrated 450th anniversary publication of da Orta's opus - one of the earliest texts to be published in South Asia - underscores the State's investment in legacy-making and forgetting.
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