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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 Nine: Katherine Vaz’s “Lisbon Story”: Representing Place and Cultural Identity

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CHAPTER  NINE

Katherine Vaz’s “Lisbon Story”

Representing Place and Cultural Identity

FERNANDA LUíSA FENEJA

 

In an interview by Catarina Carvalho published in the Portuguese newspaper, Jornal de Notícias, Katherine Vaz states that going to places one is going to write about helps understand their essence, far beyond the scope of information provided by research. In her view, such a direct, immediate contact entails a sort of sensorial, kinesthetic experience that enables a closer and more comprehensive immersion in the authentic nature of that place (Carvalho n. pag.).

In Katherine Vaz’s fiction, the knowledge of Portugal is rooted not only in the several trips she made both to the continent and the Azores, but also, and most likely more deeply, in her family background and cultural heritage. A descendant of Azorean immigrants to the United States, Vaz is referred to as a writer of Portuguese-American literature (Silva 52–53), a term that applies to the body of literary production by Portuguese immigrants or by their American-born descendants. In both cases, this literature is born into Portuguese-American communities and, as Onésimo Almeida points out, besides being shaped by the cultural dialogue with two different literary traditions (depending on whether it is written in English or in Portuguese), it reflects the hybrid character of the Portuguese-American experience (737). This cross-cultural bond is all the more evident in the titles of Katherine Vaz’s works, which,...

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