Whether you are an academic or just the average Goan about your business, there is no running away from T. B. Cunha’s essay The Denationalisation of Goans. It looms large in the Goan consciousness, whether we are aware of it or not, operating as a burden that Goans have to either wear or labour to cast off. Surprisingly enough though, despite its absorption into academic discourse, neither the term nor the logic of the paper has been subjected to critical review, as one would expect for terms that gain academic currency. The presentation was one such attempt at critically reviewing this term. Our argument is that Cunha had it right when he pointed out that the period of colonial rule had caused a slow mental change in the Goan people. However, he stretched the term too far when using Denationalization. For, if understood as erasing an already existent national consciousness, is grossly misapplied, for until the national movement began, there was no Indian, or indeed Goan nation.
Cunha’s paper fulfilled its historic role of urging Goans to participate in, or link Goa’s freedom with that of the Indian National Struggle, however, beyond that it perhaps serves no other useful purpose, except to continue to exclude substantial segments and isolate them as anti-national. The presentation attempted to understand why Cunha’s work needs to be resigned from public and scholarly use and how problematic his perspective is.
Jason Keith Fernandes, completed his basic schooling in Goa, following which he graduated from the National Law School of India University in Bangalore in the year 2000. Following work experience in various parts of India, he was in 2003 awarded the Visiting India Environmental Law Fellowship, a semester long programme in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. He is currently working toward the completion of the Master’s degree from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law, in Onati- Spain. His academic interests revolve around issues that emerge from developing and postcolonial societies. In addition, of particular interest is the negotiation of State-citizen relationships vis-à-vis land in postcolonial societies, an area of interest that he is currently pursuing via the study of comunidades in his Master’s thesis. And proposes to continue on future research work that shall focus on the Comunidades, Mazanias and Fabricas.