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Religion and Empire in Portuguese India

Religion and Empire in Portuguese India

How did the colonisation of Goa in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries take place? How was it related to projects for the conversion of Goan colonial subjects to Catholicism? And how did these contribute to the making of Goan identity?

In this closely argued work, Ângela Barreto Xavier asks these questions by reading the relevant secular and missionary archives and texts. She shows how the twinned drives towards conversion and colonisation in Portuguese India resulted in various outcomes, ranging from negotiation to passive resistance to moments of extreme violence.

She reveals that, in the process, Portuguese Goa emerged as a space with a specific identity resulting from these contestations and interactions. The Goan elites were also able to internalise this complex body of cultural resources to further their interests and narrate their own myths and histories.

  • Author

    Ângela Barreto Xavier’s research interests include the history of political ideas and the cultural history of early-modern empires, specifically issues related to power, religion, and knowledge. She is currently a researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon.
    Professor Barreto Xavier’s several books include Catholic Orientalism: Portuguese Empire, Indian Knowledge, 16th–18th Centuries (co-authored with Ines G. Županov, 2015); Monarquias Ibéricas em Perspectiva Comparada (Iberian Monarchies in Comparative Perspective, edited with Federico Palomo and Roberta Stumpf, 2018); and O Governo dos Outros: Imaginação Política no Império Português (Governing the Others: Political Imagination in the Portuguese Empire, edited with Cristina Nogueira da Silva, 2016).

    She was awarded the Infosys Prize 2021 in the Humanities.

  • From the reviews

    “This book is the first detailed and sophisticated treatment of the transformations wrought in Goa during the first couple of centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, after the conquest in 1510. It uses a dense body of both secular and ecclesiastical texts and archives and is well informed by the recent critical literature on early-modern India. Xavier is careful to delineate the political and economic context of the changes that occurred in Goa, but her real focus is social and cultural. The colonial state and religious authorities used a variety of strategies to convert subjects to Catholicism, and they in turn responded with their own cultural resources, which differed significantly from one part of Goa to another. The book is an important contribution to various fields, including religious history, early-modern Indian history, and the history of the Iberian overseas empires.”

  • Details


    432 pages

    In the Hedgehog and Fox series, copublished with Ashoka University Press

    This book was originated and edited here at Permanent Black, and we have sold rights for the world except South Asia to State University of New York Press (SUNY) which will publish it for North America and elsewhere. This edition is for sale in South Asia only.

    You can buy this book from our distributors Orient Blackswan or from good bookstores, or from online portals.

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