Pamila Gupta
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Commemoration (1952)
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The central focus in the sixth chapter is the “Solemn Exposition” of 1952 since it represents the last in a series of commemorations of this saint's biography—fittingly, a commemoration of (Xavier's) death exactly four hundred years earlier in 1552— staged on the part of the Estado da Índia as it faced its own imminent "death." It was staged during a time when the Portuguese were increasingly put on the defensive about their ethical right to maintain Goa as an "overseas province" in the midst of a newly independent Indian nation-state(1947). While this momentous event easily rivalled the one in 1859—the subject of my last chapter— in terms of expense and design, I will suggest that in tone and character, this particular solemnity staged in 1952 was markedly different, given not only the set of political and economic conditions under which it was organized, but because of the material and discursive force—commemoration—framing this set of ritual practices.

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The relic state

St Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India


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