Goans and the Project of Production of Self

Psychoanalysis teaches that a society is produced by repression of desire. Freud taught that the unconscious repression is the primary condition of communal life and becomes a priori condition of inter-human exchange. It is the castration phobia that shapes society. It is the fear of the prohibiting father which is individually internalised as superego that becomes the bloodline of any social commune. It would be interesting to open our reflection to the repressions triggered by castration phobia that we Goans seem to have. This exercise is important because it can manifest how this mechanism of repression produces our society both collectively and individually. We cannot know our own repressions. Therefore, it is difficult to unearth them. We may take the route opened by Julia Kristeva to reach the repressions embedded into our society. Kristeva can assist us to open the door on our repressions by letting us examine that which we abject, expel or wish to excrete or vomit out of our society. This drive to abject is triggered by the fear of otherness that becomes a blemish or a stain on what we imagine as pure Goa and Goan-ness. This means the drive of expulsion of otherness that alienates us shows that like most societies, Goan society is also controlled by narcissist concerns. Maybe we have to abject the condition that makes us abject otherness.

Maybe colonization has instilled the fear of the other in our society. Maybe the colonizers only intensified the fear of the other that is already embedded in a caste ridden society. Otherness always haunts any society. It is what we do with the otherness that produces our society. A caste ridden society hierarchies otherness and integrates it into it. Pre-colonial Goan society managed otherness by placing it on a caste ladder. This is why there was no need of expulsion of otherness as it was ranked on the scale of purity and pollution. Those that we were left on the lower rung of the ladder were thought to be polluted and polluting and we exiled within our society. Like caste colonization also complexly marked our society. It largely dissolved otherness into sameness. This is why conversion came along with lusitanization. Not just the convert but even the non-convert could not fully resist lusitanisation . This complex lusitanization of Goa and Goans was later interpreted as de-nationalization by Dr. Tristao de Barganza Cunha (1891-1958). Dr Tristao considered both Christians and the Hindus of Goa as denationalised but declared that denationalisation of the Christians was more pronounced. Here it is important for us to understand how otherness was culturally assimilated in the colonial era in Goa so that we can view how in the post-colonial times, we can see a demand to culturally excrete otherness.

Colonial assimilation of the otherness is replaced by cultural excretion of the other in the post-colonial era. This is the reason why insider/ outsider, Christian / Hindu /Muslim and others have become acute preoccupation in our society. There is anger against an outsider who is unfortunately greeted by a pejorative label, ‘Ganti’. Lusitansation did not kill the sting of caste in our society. We somehow hybridized and what the colonial other called caste survives even in our days. This means the tendency to rank others on the ladder of a hierarchy did not die. It slipped into religion and today survived with loyalties transcending religions. Besides, the coming of an independent nation steadily rang in the truncated nationalism that saw no Indian as a national enough. Hindus were to become sanskari and become national. The Muslim and the Christians may have to be born again or have to stage a Ghar vapsi to prove them-selves to be national. Thus the way we managed otherness in Goa we have produced our society down the ages. Hence, it is important to embrace otherness to generate emancipative ways of being Goans. Otherness is always an excess. We cannot assemble it into comprehensible content. There is away a surplus dimension that resists our attempts of reduction and totalisation . This awareness might open us to generate emancipative ways of encountering otherness. As all self production is essentially a relation of self and the Other. A positive openness to the other becomes an authentic call for our Goan-ness to show and blossom. It is the other that calls us into being, hence, the other of Goans is significant as it shapes us into what we have become and can become. Expanding our embrace fearlessly to the other may be a way ahead for us to produce ourselves and goanise Goa and ourselves.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao