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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 Twelve: Figurations of Diaspora: Contexts, Trajectories, Effects

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CHAPTER  TWELVE

Figurations OF Diaspora

Contexts, Trajectories, Effects

CARLOS REIS

 

1.

Departing from the foundational notion of diaspora—and adopting a broad definition of this concept that includes dispersion and exile—I analyze several of the thematic possibilities it has engendered in relation to literary figurations in Portuguese literature. Such figurations—in both fictional and autobiographical registers—incorporate fundamental themes, such as departure, voyage, exile, border, identity, difference, alterity, self-understanding, and idiom. These themes, in turn, are directly related to specific narrative categories—narrative is the dominant form of discourse studied in this chapter—pertaining to character and time.

It is well-known that in different epochs and within the literary context, the diaspora motif has been depicted in distinctive manners. In this chapter, I engage in two discrete paths of analysis. The first revolves around the personal experience of the author, who often departs as an exile, and frequently projects his/her experience into fictional worlds, into how such worlds are constructed, as well as the characters that dwell in them.1 The second consists of literary themes, in the proper meaning of the word, elicited by the movement of diaspora. In the latter case, the representation of diaspora is done through the expression of thematic themes with specific meanings: exile, emigration, community, nostalgia, distance, return. The character, in the latter instance, assumes a critical position, and, as a ← 227 | 228 → fictional figure—constructed...

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