The Descendente Elite of Goa: The Role of Literature in the Construction and Dismantling of Stereotypes

Luís Pedroso de Lima Cabral de Oliveira

Published Date: Feb 28, 2022


Was Vimala Devi yet another author since at least the seventeenth century to have followed in the footsteps of Portuguese writers—Bocage, Tomás Ribeiro, the Kopkes, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queiroz, Vitorino Nemésio and Manuel de Seabra—in painting a stereotyped and rather grotesque image of the descendente (roughly, Creole) elite of Goa in her short story “The Subsidy”? If so, in what way did she take on, rework, or contribute to this cliché? This question is the common thread running through the present article, which gives an overview of the stereotyped image of the descendentes as it emerges in the writings of the abovementioned Portuguese authors. If Devi’s “The Subsidy” might be read as perpetuating a hackneyed image, the little-known novel A Neta do Cozinheiro (The Cook’s Granddaughter), published in 1908 by the descendente author Luís da Providência, offers elements that permit a revisionary analysis of a populational group that has been largely erased from the image of the Goa today. Rather ironically, it is Devi’s literary criticism, published jointly with her husband Manuel de Seabra in 1971 and entitled A Literatura Indo-Portuguesa (Indo-Portuguese Literature), that, while dismissing Providência’s work, has alerted contemporary researchers to its existence.


Elite descendentes, eighteenth to twentieth-century Goa, literature and colonial society, Vimala Devi, Maria Manuel Barbosa du Bocage, Luís da Providência

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