From Afro-Asia, with love: global decolonization and the “Indian question” in Mozambique

When Nehru publicly stated in 1950 that Goa was an imperial relic that needed to be given back to India, he started a long process of negotiation and dispute that eventually led to the Indian military annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu, in 1961. The day after his initial speech, the government of Mozambique organized a rally to protest India’s ambitions. This was the first of a long list of public actions taken by the colonial state throughout the 1950s, always in response to events taking place in India. The reason why the “Goan question” was so important in Mozambique lied, in short, on its South Asian community of around 15 thousand people in 1950, of which more than 5 thousand resided in Lourenço Marques in 1960. This paper examines this complex historical conjuncture, paying particular attention to the various ways in which the Indian question in Mozambique became internationalized in the volatile political climate of global decolonization and Afro-Asian coalitions. The fictional signature “from Afro-Asia, with love” is taken here as a metaphor of the southern circuits tying the Mozambican Indian problem to broader constellations of power and competing political cartographies. Cartographies that the colonial state tried hard to map, control, and ultimately disperse to its own advantage. By looking at particular moments of internationalization, in this paper I argue that the news of the Luso-Indian dispute not only shaped the relations within the South Asians community and between them and other racial groups, but it also deeply marked the ways in which Indian-ness was conceived and acted upon by the colonial state in Mozambique.

About the Author

Caio Simões de Araújo is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant at the International History Department of the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva. He received an MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the Central European University (CEU), Budapest, and a BA in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Coimbra, Portugal. His PhD research develops a transnational approach to Portuguese late colonialism and decolonization in Mozambique.


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