Accepted paper:

"Fado, codfish and Fatima": identification and differentiation amongst the Portuguese in Toronto


Marta Vilar Rosales (Instituto de Ciências Sociais)

Paper short abstract:

By exploring the routine uses of a widely shared set of Portuguese cultural heritage items, the paper investigates new processes of differentiation and identification and their coexistence with more “classic” configurations of distinction and affiliation of a group of Portuguese migrants in Toronto.

Paper long abstract:

The "Portuguese community" of Toronto consists of three generations of migrants who, like most of other migrant contingents in Canada, presents classic communalization mechanisms (spatial concentration, associations, independent cultural agenda, alternative media productions), which reproduce and reinforce de use of Portuguese culture most significant contemporary items such as fado, codfish and Our Lady of Fatima. However, and despite their effectiveness, the community also presents crescent mechanisms of difference and distinction. Less based on ethnicity than on class, gender, age, cultural capital and social affiliation these factors are affecting, not only the relationship of the Portuguese with the city and its population, but also the ways the group sees itself as such, since they promote original forms of identification and belonging. Without necessarily questioning or devaluing Portuguese heritage, these mechanisms generate and promote new forms of appropriation, domestication and strategic use of heritage, while challenging naturalized understandings and crystallized practices. Based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper aims contributing to the investigation of these new processes of differentiation, their impacts in terms of identification and interaction and how they coexist and negotiate with more "classic" configurations of difference and affiliation. Through a focus on everyday routines, domestic practices and mundane material culture, the paper unfolds and discusses the existing heterogeneity of the Portuguese in Toronto, its foundations and materializations and explores the work of key heritage items, at the level of practice (music, food and foodways, religious practices), in the production and management of identification and difference.

panel P09
Re-membering transnational living heritages