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19th Century Periodicals of Portuguese India: An Assessment of Documentary Evidence and Indo-Portuguese Identity.


Portuguese colonial periodicals of 19th century India represent a rich source of information that might be used by scholars in comparative literature, history, post-colonial studies, and other humanities and social sciences-related disciplines. These periodicals are markers of modalities of colonial dominance and the ensuing hybridities that led to formation of the complex Indo-Portuguese identity (-ies) in the 19th century Indian sub-continent.

Although the majority of these collections remain in India and Portugal, these periodicals also form a part of extensive South Asia collections held in academic libraries in the United States. These periodicals have often been overlooked as a source of information on the colonial milieu of 19th century India because access to them has been problematic for several reasons. Memories of a colonial past that could have been perceived as repressive might be one reason why these periodicals have been left to wither away in both India and Portugal. Since some of these periodicals are held in collections of academic libraries in the United States, questions about what responsibilities these libraries might have or take on to provide access to these disappearing periodicals in their original or digitized form become important. This situation raises several questions about the nature of the stewardship concerning these periodicals in each of geographic location: India, Portugal and the United States, as well as the implications of the complex of intellectual property legislation in India, Portugal and the United States for any digitization initiatives.

This dissertation addresses several three distinct yet interlinked themes: First, it provides a history and description of 19th century periodicals of Portuguese India. Second, it demonstrates the use of 19th century Portuguese literary periodicals of Portuguese India as evidence of Indo-Portuguese identity formation and hybridities. Third, it examines stewardship issues related to collections of these periodicals held in libraries in India, Portugal and the United States.

The key findings of my research are as follows: There were hundreds of Portuguese language periodicals in the 19th century Portuguese India and Bombay, where the Indo-Portuguese diaspora lived and worked. These periodicals circulated for varying lengths of time and comprised multiple genres. A substantial number of Portuguese language periodicals also began appearing in Bombay in British India. This appearance of periodicals in diaspora, while not unique to the Portuguese periodicals of India, indicates the need of expatriates for news to be published from their homeland as well as their language affinities. Although the "Bombay" periodicals were initially published in Portuguese, over a period of time we see incorporation of English as well as other regional languages such as Marathi and Konkani. The findings also suggest that the perceptions of American and international librarians to issues of stewardship for these publications are as diverse as the libraries for which they work. In the United States, the 19th century Portuguese periodicals of India generally form a very small part of the overall collections of colonial periodicals. The librarians who worked as the curators of these collections were primarly interested in providing access to these periodicals in alternate forms as in many cases the originals were fragile. The issues of copyright were deemed complicated and the librarians often quoted notions such as fair academic use, public domain, and local access to justify digital preservation of these materials where possible.

My interviews of these librarians and the ensuing data analysis for this particular study demonstrate that both the multiple transformational stewardship model and the component stewardship model, map inadequately. These models fail to capture the diverse viewpoints to which these librarians subscribed. Since the sample size was rather small for this study, further study is needed to refine our understanding of the role of the stewardship when it comes to collecting, preserving and providing access to low use but high value periodicals, such as these 19th century Portuguese periodicals of India. I would argue that my study is just the first step in the direction of gaining insights regarding the world view of librarians from several different countries. Similar research is needed to see how librarians in other former colonial possessions of Portugal perceive the importance of stewardship with respect to their own Portuguese language colonial periodicals.

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