This book is a study of the complex nature of colonial and missionary power in Portuguese India. Written as a historical ethnography, it explores the evolving shape of a series of Catholic festivals that took place throughout the duration of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa (1510-1961), and for which the centrepiece was the 'incorrupt' corpse of São Francisco Xavier (1506-52), a Spanish Basque Jesuit missionary-turned-saint. Using distinct genres of source materials produced over the long duree of Portuguese colonialism, the book documents the historical and visual transformation of Xavier's corporeal ritualisation in death through six events staged at critical junctures between 1554 and 1961. Xavier's very mutability as a religious, political and cultural symbol in Portuguese India will also suggest his continuing role as a symbol of Goa's shared past (for both Catholics and Hindus) and in shaping Goa's culturally distinct representation within the larger Indian nation-state.
Garcia de Orta’s Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs of India (1563) was one of the first books to take advantage of the close relationship between medicine, trade and empire in the early modern period. The book was printed in Goa, the capital of the Portuguese empire in the East, and the city where the author, a Portuguese physician of Jewish ancestry, lived for almost thirty years. It presents a vast array of medical information on various drugs, spices, plants, fruits and minerals native to India or adjoining territories. In addition, it includes information concerning indigenous methods of healing as well as a far-reaching assessment of ancient and modern authors on Asian materia medica. Orta’s book had a market in Asia but was particularly valuable to a European audience. It soon attracted the attention of various European authors and printers by providing the basis for adaptations, commentaries and editions in various languages, prompting a successful and complex trail of medical knowledge in transit. Authored by an interdisciplinary team of prominent international scholars, the volume takes into account recent historiographical trends and provides a contextualized and innovative analysis of the histories and reception of the Colloquies. It emphasizes the value of the work to historians today as a symbol of the impact of geographical expansion and globalization in a sixteenth-century medical world.