Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging

Leading researcher: Marta Vilar Rosales (ICS-UL)
Research group: Circulation and Place-Making
Type of project: National project
Status: Concluded
Keywords: Material culture | Migration | Belongings | Comparative ethnographies


Main institution: CRIA
Participant institutions: Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (ESPM); Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF)
Funding: FCT
Reference: PTDC/CS-ANT/119803/2010
Starting date: 19-03-12

More information: link

Abstract

The research project aims the study of a significant dimension of material culture and consumption practices – its ability to frame, organize, and therefore produce, social reality – through the analysis of present-day Atlantic crossing migratory movements between Portugal and Brazil. Though contemporary material culture and migration studies are two very dynamic fields of study in the social sciences, there is still a lack of empirical research on the matter of their mutual effects (Basu and Coleman 2008). In spite of this, displacements of people usually bring about replacements of objects since migrations necessarily entail, besides material continuities, the task of having to deal with a new material world and face new material norms and values (Burrell 2008). This will affect relationships between those who left and those who stayed, the production and expression of “sameness” and “otherness” and the ways migration “as process” is daily experienced and objectified. Hence, this approach corresponds to a re-embedment of migration and movement in a more general understanding of collective life (Castles 2010) through a focus on materiality. It will address the traffic of people and things by observing and comparing its routes, temporalities and patterns in order to grasp how the movements and appropriations of objects work to (co)produce the multifaceted realm of migration. Hence, by “following the objects” (Frykman 2009), the research aims to investigate new angles of the migrants’ daily lives, observe how belonging is managed and discuss the mutual influences exerted by “here” and “there” (Glick-Schiller 2008). The research takes on the following premises: a) material culture and mass consumption are key dimensions of contemporary societies, representing an extensive source for a plurality of meaningful practices such as identity and belonging expressions and displays, accumulation of resources, narrating life experiences or confirming one’s place in the world; b) mobility and placement are interdependent; thought involving disruptive and reorganizing processes, contemporary migrations do not correspond to a permanent rootless experience; c) migration is a complex and multisided experience, affecting the ones who travel as well as of the ones who stay; “here” and “there” constitute equally relevant sites and can be addressed in concert. In view of that, the research’s main interrogation is: how do material culture and consumption practices work to (re)make evaluate and manage migrants’ social belongings and experiences? That is to say, how are things used to manage relationships and positioning strategies? How is materiality perceived, adjusted, evaluated and handled both by those who leave and those who stay? How are “sameness” and “otherness” objectified? How to characterize the paths and fluxes of people and things and their intersections? Which logics (objective and subjective) structure these movements and establish those differences? Drawing on a comparative ethnographic approach preceded by an extensive contextualizing exercise, the research will be carried out in Lisbon, Oporto, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, involving Portuguese and Brazilian recent migrants and their families both “at home” and “abroad”. Ancient features mark the crossings of the Atlantic between Portugal and Brazil, such as colonialism, language and Freyres’s Lusotropicalism arguments. Brazil was the major destination for the Portuguese from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, being considered a prime resource in periods of unfavourable economic and/or politic climates. During the second half of the twentieth century migration decreased, especially after the adhesion to the EU. However, in the mid-1990’s Portuguese capital searching for new markets abroad turned to Brazil in a movement that became known as “the return of the caravels” (Feldman- Bianco 2001). However, since the early 2000’s Portugal is facing null economic growth and high unemployment rates while Brazilian economy is experiencing high economic growth and market expansion, becoming once more attractive as a migration destination. The Brazilian migration to Portugal is much recent including at first (1980’s) mainly skilled professionals. In the 1990’s and 2000’s this pattern altered and increasingly large contingents of low-middle and working-class individuals started to arrive, forming what it is now the largest contingent of migrants in Portugal. Studying simultaneously the mirror contemporary migrations between Portugal and Brazil may pertinently add to the current questioning of the concepts of “sending” and “receiving” societies. Moreover, a focus on these two migration paths from a migration as a multisided experience perspective, thus observing both the migrants themselves and their staying families, will build a strong comparative basis for tackling the complex and illuminating intersections of people and things that make contemporary migrations.

Researchers from CRIA

IDNamePositionProjTitleProject typeStatus
pub136*Marta Vilar RosalesPrincipal Investigatorproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub180*Susana TrovãoResearcherproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub54*Emília Margarida MarquesResearcherproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub120*Inês DavidResearch scholarproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub268*Daniela RodriguesResearch scholarproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub388*João Coimbra de OliveiraResearch scholarproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub429*Ana Rita AlvesResearch scholarproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
pub434*Vânia MachadoResearch scholarproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belongingNational projectConcluded
Other researchers

ResearcherPositionInstitutionProjOutrosTitulo_EN
Lívia BarbosaResearcherproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging
Leticia VelosoResearcherproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging
Maria de Fátima PortilhoResearcherproj12*Atlantic crossings: materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging