Cozido, codfish and "shake and bake chicken": food, belonging and aspirations in "Portugal Village"
Marta Vilar Rosales
(Instituto de Ciências Sociais)
Paper short abstract:
The paper examines the centrality of food in the production, expression and management of transnational and local migrant social networks, and on its work in promoting alternative social spheres and practices beyond the "migrant condition" and the policies of identification and belonging it entails.
Paper long abstract:
The "Portuguese Community" of Toronto includes three generations of migrants who originated from different regions. The community presents characteristics (e.g. spatial concentration, associations, cultural agenda of its own, alternative media productions) that suggest a well-established structure and positioning strategy regarding the Canadian context. Yet, there is also evidence of the existence of intense transnational ties and flows, mainly with the Portuguese local contexts of origin, as well as of the emergence of new markers of difference within the community (based in factors such as class, gender, age, time of migration, and social affiliation).
Drawing on three years of ethnographic fieldwork carried out at the homes, associations, restaurants and ethnic commerce of "Portugal village", the paper examines the importance of food in the production, expression and management of the Portuguese migrants' social networks, aspirations and belongings, in multiple sets and scales. Specifically, it a) explores the potential of food to maintain transnational social and intimate bonds, produce a stable ground of common identification and express care, recognition and cultural value; b) discusses the uses of food in framing and resolving the increasingly difficulties in overcoming differences (of age, class, gender; social affiliation) within the community; c) analyses the attempts to explore new identifications and belongings, namely the approximations to the Canadian middle class ways of life. It will argue that sending, receiving, preparing and sharing food discretely but effectively constitute powerful practices, that are key to the stabilization of the disruptions migration necessary entails.
Food parcels: intimate connexions in transnational migration