History Hour 32 – “Reading into Goan Family Photographs” by Dr Savia Viegas – Friday, 17th August 2007.

After its invention is 1839, Photography travelled rapidly to the colonies either through imperial initiatives or through the efforts of travelling photographers were active in Goa by 1861 shooting individual and family portraits. Around four or five photographic establishments sprang up in Nova Goa in the early nineteenth century. They were Souza & Paul, Neurenkar, Saldanha and Ganesh, while in Mapusa, a city on the north-western extremity of Goa, the photographic establishment of Reis da Costa ruled supreme. Margao, the commercial hub of Goa, had its first photography studio setup by G. Antao only in 1917 followed by Lords, Mauzo, and Lorenz among others.

From the perspective of post colonial thinking, nineteenth-century photographs have been analysed and dissected to reveal how they function as ‘an influential form of orientalist discourse’. Vidya Dehejia argues that there is no such thing as an innocent historical eye. Photographs of India by early British photographers certainly reveal much about the world of India; but they reveal to an equal degree British attitudes towards the world.

Interestingly, Goan photogtaphs reveal to borrow a phrase from Dehejia, Goan attitudes to themselves and to the world. Dr Savia Viegas made a visual presentation on family portraits as biographies.

Dr Savia Viegas was Reader in Indian History at KC College, of the University of Mumbai. She studied at the University of Mumbai. Her areas of specialisation are Indian art, Photography, Museums and Gender History. She has been awarded several Fellowships to research on areas of her specialisation. Her papers, articles and reviews have appeared in the following Western and Indian Academic journals – Sixteenth Century Journal (Ann Arbor), Teaching South Asia (University of North Dakota), Countermedia, Humanscape, Sunday Review, Goa Today, Mirror, Indian Express Sunday Magazine, Sunday Observer, Herald Review, Illustrated Weekly of India and Times of India. She published a novel entitled Tales from the Attic (2007). Presently she is working on completion of photography study entitled The Family Archive; and also on a second novel entitled In the Hour of Eclipse. Dr Viegas heads a village based organization called Saxtti. It has three main branches. Saxtti works to impart creative learning for children through Saxtti Kids, revival and promotion of traditional craft practices through Saxtti Art and promoting a film culture in the villages though Saxtti Films.

P.C. Saviaviegas.in

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