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Conference on Portuguese Emigration to Brazil

The recent journeys from Portugal to Brazil are being discussed this week, in Lisbon. The international conference “Contemporary Portuguese Emigration” (Emigração Portuguesa Contemporânea) will take place on March 12th and 13th, in ISCTE. The scientific meeting is organized by Rede Migra, a Portuguese based network of scholars researching international mobilities. More information here.

Results from an exploration of visas awarded by the Brazilian Consulate in Oporto

The current flow bringing Portuguese to Brazil is a hot topic on national media. However, little is known about its characteristics. In order to have a better grasp of one of the populations the project focuses on, we complemented research of statistical data produced by Portuguese and Brazilian entities (namely, the National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) in Portugal and the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística), with an exploration of visas awarded by the Brazilian Consulates in Portugal.

In Oporto, the main findings confirmed some perceptions suggested in the media as well as in previous studies. An analysis of a sample of visas (the same month throughout 2008 – 2013) revealed that, among the 377 granted visas, the most frequently awarded were Permanent Visas, Work Visas and Student Visas. Accordingly, the most common reasons to request a visa were, in order, work (35%), family reunification (32%), and studies (25%). Three clear tendencies emerge when circumscribing the 337 Portuguese nationals and excluding the student population, which is almost entirely single and concentrated in the 15-24 age group. Firstly, men not only outnumber women (218 men were awarded visas in contrast with 119 women) but also have been awarded more Visas overtime, in strike contrast with the decrease of Visas to their female counterparts. Secondly, 83% of people are 24 – 65 years old and are professionally active. Finally, 38% are highly qualified professionals.

Situated in decision-making positions in public administration and private companies or working in specialized intellectual and scientific jobs, they are engineers, architects, medical doctors, lawyers, financial directors, managers and artists among others. The sectors employing most Portuguese moving to Brazil are construction and real estate. Not surprisingly, people commonly do come from the biggest urban centres around Oporto (Oporto, Aveiro and Braga) and head to the large metropolitan areas of São Paulo (São Paulo), Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro) and Salvador (Bahia).

Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 3.30.30 PM

The exceptions concern one of the two profiles that stand out. Indeed, men who are invited by their Brazilian wives to move to Brazil on a permanent basis often end up scattered throughout small localities in various Brazilian states. The second profile, men who leave to work in Brazil and bring spouses and children on their visas, prefer urban centres. In contrast, there are far less women leaving to Brazil, and, therefore, thereare less Work Visas granted to women. In tandem, Portuguese women are seldom married to Brazilian men and are rarely invited by them to move to Brazil. They mostly travel, like their children, on their husbands Permanent or Work Visas. A third residual profile concerns retirees who choose to enjoy the later age in a tropical country (3%).

Taking off

Takingoff To pave the way for the comparative approach the project aims for there was a lot of ground to cover. The Brazilian population in Portugal has been widely studied in the last decade (i.e. Coêlho, n.d.; Filho, 2008; Góis, Marques, & Padilla, 2009; Machado, 2003; Malheiros (ed.), 2007; Padilla et al., 2012; Pontes, 2004 among others), since the second big influx of people started to arrive around the 2000s. In contrast, little is known about the Portuguese who make their way abroad ever since the country became an immigration context. Most researchers working on international mobility redirected their focus to the transformations taking place within the national territory (Arroteia, 2011; J. Malheiros, 2011; Peixoto, 2012). The only clues available suggest the dynamics of circulation among the two countries is witnessing a new trend: Portuguese emigrants have never been as qualified and many Brazilians face personal and pragmatic dilemmas when considering return, as there still may be more opportunities in big cities like Oporto and Lisbon than in the small towns from which many came (and grew unaccustomed to).

The team dived into contextualizing exercises. On the one hand, we interviewed 17 experts who have looked into different aspects of the Brazilians’ and Portuguese’ international mobility. Researchers, members of migrants’ associations, diplomatic officials and coordinators of institutions both monitoring and assisting international circulation (i.e the International Organization for Migration; the Observatory of Emigration; the National Institute of Statistics (INE – Instituto Nacional de Estatística) provided informed guesses and background research that have been useful to grasp the field. On the other hand, we grappled with data from the latest census in Portugal, Visas granted by both the General Consulate of Brazil in Oporto and Lisbon and detailed surveys conducted by INE about living conditions.

With a better sense of the scale of movements, contours of the population and dimension of tendencies, questions have been emerging. We are now preparing the survey we will carry out among Brazilians in Oporto and Lisbon and to Portuguese in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Besides looking to confirm our hints, we will be exploring questions of material culture that have never been asked to these people. What consumption habits change when Portuguese engineers, architects and managers have to cope with living in extremely expensive cities? What do unemployed construction workers who reach their limit bring home when s/he wants to impress friends and family (and keep some of Europe with him/her) but there is little s/he can afford? What investment strategies do entrepreneurial Brazilian beauticians take in order to endure the crisis and keep alluring customers to strive for a Brazilian-like body? How do the material surroundings of Portuguese men who find themselves in the small hometowns of their Brazilian wives change their view of Brazil? How do the Portuguese wives who travel on the work visas of their husbands reinvent their daily routines, and the rules of conduct they teach their children, in cities that are often talked about as very dangerous in Portugal?

Keep checking for updates.


Arroteia, J. C. (2011). A EMIGRAÇÃO PORTUGUESA : breve retrospectiva. Cadernos Vianenses, (45), 37–47.

Coêlho, C. M. (n.d.). Mobilidades migratórias e precarização das condições de vida: a situação dos brasileiros em Brasilândia (Portugal). Lisboa.

FIlho, W. (2008). Imagem do Imigrante Brasileiro no Jornalismo Televisivo Português 2004-2006 (Colecção T.). Lisboa: ACIDI.

Góis, P., Marques, J. C., & Padilla, B. (2009). Segunda ou terceira vaga ? As características da imigração brasileira recente em Portugal Second or third wave ? Patterns of recent Brazilian immigration in Portugal. Revista Migrações, Número Tem(5), 111–133.

Machado, I. J. de R. (2003). Cárcere Públioc – processos de exotização entre imigrantes brasileiros no Porto, Portugal. Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

Malheiros, J. (2011). Notas e Reflexões PORTUGAL 2010 : O REGRESSO DO PAÍS DE EMIGRAÇÃO ? 1., 2(1), 133–142.

Malheiros, J. M. (Ed.). (2007). Imigração brasileira em portugal (pp. 1–248). Lisboa: ACIDI – Observatório da Imigração.

Padilla, B., Rodrigues, E., Masanet, E., Fernandes, G., Gomes, M., & França, T. (2012). Novas e Velhas Configurações da Imigração Brasileira na Europa Atas do 2o Seminário de Estudos sobre a Imigração Brasileira na Europa Beatriz Padilla. Lisboa: CIES-IUL, ISCTE.

Peixoto, J. (2012). A emigração portuguesa hoje: o que sabemos e o que não sabemos. Lisboa.

Pontes, L. (2004). Mulheres Brasileiras na Mídia Portuguesa. Cadernos Pagu, 23(229-256).

Thoughts about dominant representations of Brazilian women

“Fragmentos de uma Observação Participativa/Fragments of a Participant Observation”, is a documentary film exploring and playing with the stereotype of the Brazillian woman in Portugal. Following the everyday life of a young anthropologist, the film leads us through dance floors, university auditoriums and the Lisbon underground to the kitchen table, where Paula shares with her two flatmates experiences of embarrassing fieldwork experiences, doubts about love affairs and future projects. As the trailer suggests, over laughter, tears and glasses of wine the characters deconstruct hegemonic representations and invite us to the same.

The film is the first part of a set of three stories, which will be combined in “Triângulo/Triangle” a long-feature film exploring the connections across the Atlantic through tales of migrants living in three key cities: Lisbon (Portugal), Luanda (Angola) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Local directors  explore the reconfigured power relations connecting these countries through the lived experience of those who circulate between them. Engaging with imagined proximities and objective misunderstandings feeding the relationship between the three lusophone contexts, the project explores the flip-side of myths such as the “European dream”, “the new African Eldorado” and a “samba and football” Brazil. At the same time, it contemplates ingrained complicity as it tries to identify new identities and sketch cultural criss-crossings, (dis)encounters and porosities. More information about the project here (in Portuguese).

“Fragments of a Participant Observation” was first screened in the independent film festival Indie Lisboa and has been in movie theatres throughout Portugal (Braga, at Theatro Circo;  Coimbra at Teatro Académico de Gil Vicente and Lisbon, at Nimas). The Association Zona Franca hosted a special screening followed by a debate with the protagonist and the film directors on July 2nd, 2013.

Documentary, 2013, 35′, Video
Writer: Pedro Pinho
Photography: Vasco Viana
Sound: Rúben Costa
Montage: Filipa Reis, João Miller Guerra
With: Monique Montenegro, Paula C. Togni, Verônica Silva
Producer: Filipa Reis, Marta Lança
Production: Vende-se Filmes