terça-feira, 13 de maio de 2008

Researching India anew

Uma breve texto de opinião meu sobre o crescente número de jovens investigadores portugueses na Índia, publicado na revista "Portugal in Focus" que a representação do AICEP/Embaixada de Portugal em Nova Deli lançou recentemente, sobre Portugal e as relações bilaterais luso-indianas (p. 59).

Researching India anew

Constantino Xavier

Long back are the times when Portugal used to study India through zealous Jesuit priests like António Andrade, lonely adventurers like Fernão Mendes Pinto or gifted physicians like Garcia de Orta.

With India’s emergence on the global economic and political scene, more and more Portuguese researchers are now intrigued by India, which remains, to a large extent, a black hole on Portugal’s academic world map. This is in contrast with the historical study of the “Era dos Descobrimentos”, the colonial era relations between Portugal and India, and associated dimensions such as mutual influences on architecture or science. Portuguese historical research institutes, most notably the Centro de História Além-Mar (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), are known worldwide for their excellence in analysing the century-old oriental archives of Lisbon and Goa.

But the change is most noticeable in research on the contemporary facets of India. An increasing number of young Portuguese students are now choosing to understand the dynamics of India’s contemporary society, economy and politics. Most importantly, they are doing extensive fieldwork. For example, there is Cláudia Pereira who has lived with the tribal gaudde in Goa, Hugo Cardoso who studies the Indo-Portuguese creole of Daman and Diu, Zélia Breda analysing Goa’s tourism industry, ICCR-sponsored Nuno Lino and Tiago Bravo doing their M.A. Psychology from Pune University, and myself, (also ICCR-sponsored) researching on India’s foreign policy and its diaspora at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Although we are all divided by disciplinary boundaries, one element binds us together: the need to rediscover India and research it anew, on the ground, and not from far-flung ivory towers. The reverse trend – an increasing number of Indian students who are choosing Portugal for a higher education of excellence – can, therefore, only be welcome if we want to tie both countries closer together.

Constantino Xavier is an M.Phil. scholar in International Politics at JNU, New Delhi.

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