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Portuguese academic literature on migratory flows between Portugal and Brazil

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We have been working on a bibliographic analysis of the Portuguese academic agenda, thus far in what concerns Atlantic crossings between Brazil and Portugal. This task included an exhaustive listing of research produced in the country about migratory movements from and towards Portugal. To be specific, we reviewed, in particular, the studies analyzing Portuguese emigration to Brazil and the Brazilian immigration to Portugal.

By crisscrossing the texts listed, it became apparent that Portuguese emigration has been a structuring force in Portuguese society since the 15th century. The Atlantic crossings between Portugal and Brazil can be considered a migratory system consisting of inflows and outflows of people in both directions. Initially, Portugal was considered a sending country whilst Brazil was a receiver context. During the 1990’s these roles were thought to have reversed. Nevertheless, since the mid-2000’s both countries have been increasingly acknowledged as both points of arrival and departure.

Emigration from, and immigration to, Portugal, have been differently approached. We found more studies analyzing the latter despite the larger volume of emigration flows. On the one hand, Portuguese emigration has historically been underrepresented on academic research. This lack of studies is related with several causes, such as: the limited publishing freedom during the Estado Novo dictatorship, an underdevelopment of Portuguese Social Sciences by that time, an unavailability of reliable statistic data on emigration departs and the deceleration of these movements during the 1980’s. On the other hand, there was a boost of studies on immigration after the intense inflows of people during the 1990’s. This resulted from the fact that Portugal’s temporary role-shift from sending to receiving country was then regarded by Portuguese scholars, media and politicians as a symptom of the country’s modernization but also as a cause for several problems inside the Portuguese society and the European space. Therefor, studies were promoted in order to understand this new reality.

Among the wealth of studies about immigration in Portugal, the Brazilian population has been the most studied by the national academy. This probably resulted from their constant and intense inflow to Portugal through out the years that gave them visibility as the bigger foreign group in the country. Most of the research focused on classical topics directly related with integration, social positioning and governance issues such as: the labour market; family; marriage; gender; transnational practices; return policies; remittances; and associative movements.

In turn, the themes explored in analyses of Portuguese emigration included: demographic transformations and remittances’ impact in Portugal; representations; social mobility; emigrants’ return; integration; second generations and Portuguese communities abroad. Most of these studies focused on intra-European movements. Historic and contemporary transatlantic migrations were underrepresented until the 21st century. Only recently have studies made efforts to characterize these flows. From this century onwards, the new migratory trends and profiles have also been under analysis.

Overall, it was possible to identify biases when speaking about migration which, at times, slipped into unhelpful binary divisions (such as places of origin/destiny, here/there, emigration/immigration or us/them). What is more, these could be co-related with national political strategies, media representations and debates about the people arriving to, and leaving the country.

To better grasp the whole phenomena of the movements of people and things, both places of destiny and origin, as well as the routes, flows and timings of the various movements, should be taken into account. To do so, a further exercise will consist in putting literature produced in Brazil in dialogue with the aforementioned one. It will be interesting to compare thematic choices and to relate national political and media approaches with Portuguese immigration to Brazil, as well as with Brazilian emigration to Portugal. Nonetheless, we are aware that Academy’s borders are fluid. While undertaking this task, we already analyzed some co-produced works by Brazilian and Portuguese scholars and we do not intend to discard these intersections and academic cooperation.

For this next task we already have compiled some issues to consider: which topics are now being studied by scholars studying the circulation between Portugal and Brazil? Are Portuguese and Brazilian transatlantic flows as central to Brazilian scholars as they are to Portuguese academics? Are Portuguese immigrants studied in Brazil as much as Brazilians have been in Portugal? Is emigration to Portugal as much studied in Brazil as it has been by Portuguese academia? In what concerns the mobilities themselves, is migration to Portugal a stepping-stone to move elsewhere within Europe? How do Brazilians perceive the new inflows of Portuguese people in their country? What are the main media representations of the latter in the Brazilian society?