restricted access ‘I am Goan [not] Indian’: Postcolonial Ruptures in the South Asian Diaspora

Postcolonial scholars have theorized colonization as a complex and contradictory experience of subject formation for the colonized; despite what are often strategic performances of mimicry, the colonized come to know themselves as inferior or as shaped by multiple and mutually competing demands on their identities. However, it is not clear that all colonized groups experience this form of ambivalence or hostility towards former colonizers. This article examines the postcolonial identities of a particular sub-group in the South Asian diaspora: Catholic Goans in Canada. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with thirteen Catholic Goan women in the Greater Toronto Area, we argue that not enough attention has been paid to the multiplicity of identities that emerge out of colonial contexts. For example, some of the participants in this study narrated their Portuguese influenced identities as something to be embraced and even celebrated. More interestingly, several participants demonstrated a stronger connection to the European influences on their identities (English language, Catholicism as the dominant religion and western cultural traditions) than they did towards ‘Indian’ cultural markers. In fact, the defining of themselves as Goan and not Indian was a noticeable part of some participants’ narratives of identity. In this discussion, we explore how the Self/Other distinctions created under both Portuguese and British colonization in the sub-continent remain salient features of postcolonial identities in the South Asian diaspora.