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Languages of subalternity and collaboration: Portuguese in English settlements across the Bay of Bengal, 1620-1800
International Journal of Maritime History, Volume: 28, Issue: 2, Pages: 237 - 267
Swansea University Author: Stefan Halikowski-Smith
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The substantial Portuguese populations across the Bay of Bengal, seeking protection inthe fortified settlements of the English East India Company, were more compliant thanthose populations in western India, for whom the English often remained an enemy. Onthe east coast of India there were not twenty...
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The substantial Portuguese populations across the Bay of Bengal, seeking protection inthe fortified settlements of the English East India Company, were more compliant thanthose populations in western India, for whom the English often remained an enemy. Onthe east coast of India there were not twenty-four, but only one Portuguese fortress.Thus the Portuguese formed groups of subaltern collaborators, contributing to the wellbeingof English settlements in different ways including: through the provision of civildefence, freight services and active capital investment; as intermediaries in the diamondtrade, as tavern-owners, registrars, doctors and even aldermen, but also as concubinesand domestic slaves. Many Portuguese converted to Protestantism, supported bycontemporary Portuguese translations of the Book of Common Prayer, while others soughtother assimilationist strategies, including sending children to Britain for schooling. Whilescholars have attached due importance to renegadism and to service to various Indianrulers, these defections to rival Protestant powers have gone unnoticed.
Bay of Bengal 1620–1800, colonial population, India Portuguese Empire, subalternity and collaboration