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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 Three: A Precarious Whiteness: Exploring Australian Cultural Diversity through the Legacies of the Portuguese Empire

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CHAPTER  THREE

A Precarious Whiteness

Exploring Australian Cultural Diversity through the Legacies of the Portuguese Empire

ROBERT MASON

 

My interview with Xavier occurred on a hot summer day in subtropical Australia. As we talked, he laboriously peeled a large bag of small river prawns and recalled childhood days in Portuguese India spent similarly preparing food with his mother. In the living room behind us, a large crucifix and religious symbol hung from the wall. Next to them hung a wooden copy of a family crest that unabashedly drew attention to his Portuguese identity. Draping over the crest was a small Australian flag. As we chatted, he emphasised that he had “only ever had Australians” as friends in Australia, and that he had quickly distanced himself from formal ethnic organisations. Indeed, none of the smiling photographs that adorned the walls had any friends that were not white. Instead, they were stereotypically Australian images of drinking beer in the sun with friends. As we talked, Xavier reflected on Australia’s cultural diversity through the prism of his own migration story.

Xavier’s emphatic rejection of being “ethnic” was in many ways a predictable reflection of the value-laden terminology of Australia’s multicultural framework. His strong sense that Anglo-Australians accepted that he was not “ethnic” was noteworthy, however. Portuguese Indians offer an important case study of how cultural memories (of both migrants and permanent residents) influence migrant settlement experiences. Australia...

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