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Intersecting Diaspora Boundaries

Portuguese Contexts

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Edited By Irene Maria F. Blayer and Dulce Maria Scott

This collection of essays provides both critical and interdisciplinary means for thinking across diasporic travels within the Portuguese experience and its intersection with other peoples and cultures. The chapters are organized into four sections and offer rich, diverse, and insightful studies that provide a conceptualization of the Portuguese diaspora with special attention to the importance of cross-cultural interferences and influences. Within this framework, and from a variety of perspectives, some of the chapters depict identity-formation paths among Portuguese Jews and Luso-Indians in Australia, as well as the historical, cultural, and literary interplay among Portuguese and other diasporas in Goa, the West Indies, and Brazil. Other chapters analyze Portuguese-American literature and poetry, whereby the intersection of memory, dual identity, and place are meticulously explored. The last section of the book addresses Portuguese writers and poets who lived through (in)voluntary exile or were dislocated to Europe and Asia, and how their diasporic conditions interface with their textualized narratives. Place and memory as means of reconstructing a fragmented existence, in the writings of exiled writers, are also explored. The volume closes with a chapter on Portuguese illegal migration to France. The studies herein open new lines of inquiry into diaspora studies.
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Chapter One: The ‘Diaspora’

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CHAPTER  ONE

The ‘Diaspora’

IRENE MARIA F. BLAYER AND DULCE MARIA SCOTT

 

To what extent can the prolifically theorized and ubiquitous concept of diaspora be analytically useful in the understanding of the dispersal of people from Portugal since the 13th century—their travels, economic activities, social formations, hybridity, identity formation, cultural developments, monumentation, literary production, and so on—through processes related to international trade, imperialism, colonialism, and international migration?

As described by Stéphane Dufoix, “diaspora,” a word that for an extended period of time was applied only to scattered religious groups, beginning in the 1970s “underwent an amazing inflation that peaked in the 1990s, by which time it was being applied to most of the world’s peoples” (1). Indeed, the term diaspora is widely used today among scholars, public figures, the media, religious entities, and the lay public. In a world of ever-growing population dispersal and the emergence of new forms of connection to homelands and host countries, scholars from different theoretical perspectives and disciplines within the social sciences and humanities have seized the concept of diaspora, applying it “as a productive frame for reimagining locations, movements, identities, and social formations that have either been overlooked by earlier modes of analysis or, equally important, stand the chance of being flattened by the homogenizing effects of global capital” (Banerjee 1).

The literature on diaspora—not only on the theoretical evolution of the concept and...

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