Whiteness in Golden Goa: Linschoten on Phenotype

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The emergence of white identities during early modernity was largely the effect of the encounters between different bodies on the coasts of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. This chapter uses the observations made by the latesixteenth-century traveller Jan Huygen van Linschoten during his stay in Goa to think through some conceptual issues pertaining to processes of racialisation in the Indian Ocean world. “Golden” Goa, then the capital and most important economic node of the Portuguese Estado da India, exhibited both early forms of cosmopolitanism and the solidifi cation of racial intolerance and prejudice. Following a “physiological” approach to race derived from Nietzsche and Foucault, we can infer from Linschoten’s account that racialisation was an incipient material process in which the variations of human phenotype was not incidental, but central. However ambiguous in the light of miscegenations and conversions, phenotype was from the beginnings of early modernity an important if ambivalent vehicle of social difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIndian Ocean Studies
Subtitle of host publicationCultural, Social, and Political Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781135269036
ISBN (Print)9780415803908
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 Taylor & Francis.


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