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Goans and East-Indians: A Negotiated Catholic Presence in Bombay’s Urban Space

Alice Santiago Faria, Sidh Losa Mendiratta

Abstract


Goan emigration to Bombay during the late 19th and early 20th centuries had a strong impact on the city, influencing its culture and society. This created an uneasy juxtaposition between the pre-existent Catholic community in Bombay, who came to be known as East Indians, and the newcomers. Within the framework of colonial Bombay, the Goan migrants found employment, creating mutualistic structures such as clubs, housing societies and micro credit banks, developing agency in certain sectors. Goans tended to settle in specific neighbourhoods, where their presence influenced the cityscape and urban life of Bombay. By mapping the impact of Goan emigration to Bombay, one can understand how the community adapted itself to a new cosmopolitan environment, creating a web of dwellings and services that allowed the Goans to adjust, settle, and feel at home. Using primary and secondary sources, we will focus on the numerous Goan clubs, housing societies and Goan-owned economic activities that mushroomed in Bombay during the early 1900s. By addressing how the Goan community established itself in Bombay, we will argue that convergence towards the same geographical areas was a factor in the rivalry with the East Indians, as was the internecine religious strife usually described as the Padroado-Propaganda dispute. This rivalry between the two Catholic communities evinced conflicting notions of collective identity, with citizenship, race, and language playing determinant roles.

Keywords


Goans, East Indians, Bombay, Emigration, Catholic communities, Urban

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