Goans in Portugal: Role of history and identity in shaping diaspora linkages
Title: Goans in Portugal: Role of history and identity in shaping diaspora linkages
Series/Number: Migration Policy Centre; CARIM-India Research Report; 2012/19; Case studies
The Portuguese colonial era in India began in 1502 and ended in 1961 with the annexation of Goa by India. This long standing colonial relationship led to a deep-rooted historical, cultural and social relationship between Goa and Portugal. Migration from Goa to Portugal, over different periods, played an important part in forging this relationship. This paper examines the history of migration from Goa to Portugal, the characteristics of the Goan community in Portugal, and its engagement with Goa and with India, based on secondary and primary sources of information. Section 2 discusses the different waves of migration from Goa to Portugal. It finds that Goans migrated to Portugal during the colonial period in search of education, then following the annexation of Goa by India in 1961, and subsequently during the 1970s when Goans “twice migrated” to Portugal from Mozambique and Angola following their independence. In recent decades, Goans have been migrating to Portugal to seek access to the larger European market. Today, there is a sizeable Goan community residing in Portugal. Sections 3 and 4 explore the question of identity as perceived by this community in Portugal. The findings indicate that history, the causal factors underlying migration, and the heterogeneity within the community in terms of background, economic and social status have a major influence on the notion of identity. One section of the community does not consider itself as a diaspora group or as expatriates or migrants as it sees itself as fully integrated with Portuguese society. Their connection is with Goa, not with India. Another section of the community views itself as belonging to India and also Goa, realizing that they have a distinct identity within Portugal. For the twice migrated, the issue of identity is even more complex as they identify with a third country and many have never lived in Goa or India. Section 5 discusses how this issue of identity has in manifested itself in different ways, such as through the community’ position on issues of minority representation within Portuguese society, through diaspora associations and networks, and the extent to which the community has engaged with and contributed back to Goa and India. It finds that due to the dilemma over identity, the community has had very weak economic and philanthropic ties with the homeland. Section 6 highlights the growing engagement between the Goan community in Portugal and India in recent years and some initiatives at the government level to deepen this engagement. However, it finds that a long term strategic vision has been lacking on the part of both the Indian and the Portuguese governments. Section 7 concludes by calling for a forward looking approach to engaging with the Goan diaspora community in Portugal. It recommends that this community be strategically leveraged not only to strengthen economic and cultural relations with Portugal but also to serve India’s larger foreign policy and geopolitical objectives in the Lusophone countries of Latin America and Africa.
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Type of Access: openAccess