Xenophobia, racism, and attachment to homeland in the experience of Santomean migrants in Portugal
José Sobral (Universidade de Lisboa)
Paper short abstract:
In spite of the Portuguese common-sense rhetoric that depicts the Portuguese as non-racist, the experience of Santomean migrants in Portugal has been marked by xenophobia and racism. We argue that this experience is a main factor in keeping alive the feelings of belonging that bind them to homeland.
Paper long abstract:
After the end of the Portuguese colonial empire in 1974, Portugal became a destination for the emigration of the former colonized, who came to in search of a better living in a Western European country. The historical relationship between colonizers and colonized, and the fact that both former settlers and former colonialists are part of a political organization linking Portuguese-speaking countries contributed to this migration. As they spoke Portuguese, many of these migrants were able to acquire Portuguese citizenship, and with it the possibility of access to occupations such as the civil service, a monopoly of the nationals. In this paper, we deal with the Santomean who have migrated to Portugal in the last three decades. In spite of the widespread Portuguese common-sense rhetoric that represents the Portuguese as non-racist, their experience has been marked not by hospitality and inclusion, but by xenophobia and racism. Based on ethnographical fieldwork and interviews with Santomean migrants in Lisbon, we analyze their experience of living in Portugal showing how it leads to the maintenance of the segregation between them and the Portuguese, even when they have Portuguese citizenship acquired by birth. Then we purport to show how this experience of exclusion is a main contributing factor to keeping alive and reproducing the feelings of belonging that bind them to homeland.
Hospitality and its reverse: migration and xenophobia in Southern Europe and beyond [MedNet Mediterraneanist Network]