Accepted Paper:

Postcolonial positions: conceptualizing the Portuguese migrants in Angola  


Lisa Åkesson (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how different conceptualisations of Portuguese migrants in Angola interplay with postcolonial identities and power relations. The conceptualisations vary depending on the speaker’s position, and are also related to migrants’ family history, generation, legal status and profession

Paper long abstract:

When the economic crisis hit Portugal in 2008 the economy was booming in the former colony of Angola. In the years to come, soaring unemployment and drastically decreased salaries pushed people away from Portugal at the same time as Angola provided openings for different kinds of migrants. In consequence of this development, for the first time in history, migrants from a former European colonial power sought improved living condition in a former African colony on a large scale. Some of these migrants were children of the Portuguese colonisers who left Angola at independence in 1975. The aim of this paper is to explore how different conceptualisations of these migrants interplay with postcolonial identities and positions of power. Some Portuguese see themselves as returnees while Angolans may talk about them as colonisers coming back. Highly skilled Portuguese sometimes call themselves expats, thereby indicating international connections beyond the Lusophone sphere. Neither the Angolans nor the Portuguese use the term "migrants" which they instead apply to low skilled labour from other African countries residing in Angola. From an analytical perspective, the concept "second generation postcolonial returnees" may be useful, if we understand "generation" in a symbolic rather than literal sense, and "postcolonial" as indicating both ruptures and continuities with the colonial past. Thus, the varying ways of conceptualising these migrants are interwoven with colonial and postcolonial legacies, and they are also related to individual migrants' family history, generation, legal status and professional background.

Panel P048
Moving beyond the colonial? North-South mobility, power and post-colonial encounters [ANTHROMOB]