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Redefining Urban Space: Velha Goa and the Construction of Its Outer Fortification Wall

Author(s): Brian C Wilson

Year: 2015

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This paper sheds new light on the construction at the end of the 16th century of one of the most impressive, albeit ultimately superfluous, fortification walls in southern Asia: the 22km long wall surrounding Velha Goa—the capital city of the Portuguese eastern empire. Through discussion of legal documents pertaining to rural and city life, I reveal how the Portuguese came to conceive of the city as a separate space requiring new mechanisms of governance different from the countryside.  Comparing these data to my recent archaeological survey, I argue that, while historical documents suggest the wall was built for military/defensive purposes, it more accurately reflects the colonial government’s deep concern for security and circulation.  The physical and conceptual boundaries evident in Goa thus reveal the growing struggle of the Portuguese to govern and define urban space more generally and an example of how the colonial experience presaged changes in European "governmentality."

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Redefining Urban Space: Velha Goa and the Construction of Its Outer Fortification Wall. Brian C Wilson. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434029)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 380

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America