Edited By Irene Maria F. Blayer and Dulce Maria Scott
Chapter Five: Behind the Scenes: The Cultural Impact of the Portuguese on Trinidad & Tobago
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Behind THE Scenes
The Cultural Impact of the Portuguese on Trinidad & Tobago
JO-ANNE S. FERREIRA
Throughout the 141 years of Madeiran Portuguese migration to Trinidad (1834 to 1975),1 the Portuguese and their descendants have always accounted for less than one per cent of the total national population, remaining a minority group within the wider host society and also a minority within the national European and Euro-Creole community—a minority within a minority. In spite of lower numbers than other ethno-linguistic groups generally, the Madeirans constituted the most significant post-emancipation European and Euro-Creole group, significant both in relative size and in socioeconomic and cultural contributions to their host society. Their numerical significance is supported by the fact that the national census accorded this group a separate census category2 up to 1960, and again in 2010, after a hiatus of 50 years. At their peak in the 1940s,3 Luso-descendants or Portuguese Creoles numbered a few thousand in a population that totalled no more than 600,000 (with the Euro/White population numbering just over 15,000 in total, or under 3% overall). In spite of comparatively low numbers, their sociocultural significance was not to be ignored, with the Portuguese-born and their Luso-Trinbagonian4 descendants having contributed to many spheres of national life, including religion, business, politics, the arts (music, literature, Carnival, film), and a few culinary items.
The ancestors of the modern Portuguese...
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