Transits

material culture, migration and everyday life

Author: transits (page 1 of 4)

Letters from the field, Berlin #4: neighborhood life and shopping

On an evening spent at home, at the beginning of my stay in Berlin, I felt like eating something sweet. As I had nothing decadent enough at home, I decided to pop to the nearest Späti to buy a chocolate bar. The Späti, or in its complete formulation, Die Spätkauf, is a kind of convenience store in Berlin that stays open out of hours.

On the way there, I took the time to make a phone call. I entered Späti while still on the phone and was taking time to choose the chocolate I wanted. At one point the gentleman behind the counter started to speak at me angerly, and with gestures seemed to send me out and finish the call on the street. I interrupted the call and exchanged a few unsavoury words with him, before leaving the shop with my chocolate because I had no alternative place to buy it at that time in the evening.

When I got home and told my German co-inhabitants what happened, the answer I got from them was that my attitude had been disrespectful, as “in Germany, people behind the counter want to be treated as people” and not ignored, as was the case. I realized that even though I said a distracted and perhaps barely audible hallo! when I entered the shop, having been on the phone all the time without trying to make a casual conversation with the Späti’s attendant, had been an attitude that was beyond impolite, too impersonal for what would be expected in this context. My idea that anonymity and impersonality would be normal in a city the size of Berlin turned out to be unmistakably wrong.

The Späti is a convenience store where we can buy newspapers and magazines, the lottery, the occasional soda or beer, a packaged snack, or collect our DHL parcels. Both the store itself, and the person behind the counter – who usually owns the store -,  are viewed as a neighbourhood institution.

Going back to that night, as I continued my account about the unpleasant exchange of words between the Späti and myself, one of my interlocutors stared at me with some shock and disbelief, as if I had committed heresy and said “oh no, you don’t want to mess with the Späti”, further proving the symbolic power of this institution in Berlin society.

The outside of a Späti (which is also a DHL parcel shop) in my neighbourhood.

I have observed that, despite being a big city, Berlin has in its neighbourhoods the centre of the daily life of its inhabitants. One of the things that stands out when strolling through the various districts of Berlin is that there is no clear separation between residential, work, shopping and leisure areas. I have also been observing in the neighbourhood where I live that the street remains dynamic throughout the day, animated whether by traditional commerce and small businesses or by the infrastructure that enables people not to have to move far from building where they live to carry on with daily life in all of its dimensions.

A focal point in my neighbourhood, with the fenced playground and ping-pong table in the background and a sitting area in front of the pharmacy.

The interaction between neighbours in public space is constant. The green spaces mark the urban landscape. In gardens and parks, people sit and talk while sipping a beer bottle or sharing a bottle of wine; birthday parties and barbecues take place on the lawns among larger and noisier groups. Playgrounds with swings and a sand area, spot every corner, and are the meeting place for parents and young children: children play barefoot with shovels and buckets in the sand while parents sitting on benches or the floor talk to each other while watching over the children. The pavement outside the ice cream parlours are also popular places for parents and children to hang out.

Geladaria em Prenzlauer Berg.

Another traditional area of ​​the neighbourhood is the bakery, in German Bäckerei. This is where one buys bread and rolls daily. The bakery also sells a variety of cakes – slices or the entire thing -, serves coffee, juices, and quick meals for breakfast, such as eggs and sausage. Essential goods that a Berlin home cannot miss, such as eggs, milk or butter are also available. There are less traditional, more gourmet bakeries in more affluent or gentrified neighbourhoods, which announce the sale of the fashionable sourdough bread, the use of organic ingredients, and offer the same kind of small meals as traditional bakeries, but made with rarer and more expensive ingredients such as avocado

The neighbourhood shopping network also includes the pharmacy, pubs selling drinks and the occasional schnitzel, cafés where small groups can be found enjoying their Kaffee und Kuchen, small restaurants and hairdressers… This network seems to be highly valued by both older and younger residents, both Germans and foreigners. The attendants, who often own the business, exchange greetings and short but friendly conversations with customers. These exchanges are a good source of neighbourhood news.

The inside of a bakery in Lichtenberg. All rights reserved.

Leaving the heart of the neighbourhood, in only a few minutes we can reach one of the main arteries of the district, whatever is the district, where commerce gains another dimension. These busiest streets and avenues are what the British call the high street. There we find the drugstore, a reference in everyday shopping in Berlin. DM and Rossman are the most well-known drugstore chains. There is at least one – oftentimes more – in every main street. There, toiletries and household items can be bought. There is also the make-up section, photo development section, an area for baby clothing and other baby articles, and a section with some organic packaged goods such as biscuit, cereals spices, teas and sauces, usually cheaper than in organic supermarkets.

The supermarkets are also located on the high street. With or without car parking facilities, the truth is that walking or cycling is privileged in Berlin, because in this continuity between residential and shopping areas, the distances are never long. The types of supermarkets are varied: from discounters like Netto, Penny, Aldi or Lidl, to the more regular ones like Edeka, Rewe or Kaufland. With hygiene products purchased at the drugstore, grocery shopping in supermarkets is usually limited to food items.

The already traditional Turkish supermarkets, located in both residential and main arteries, usually have a colourfull and attractive fruit and vegetable stand outside. Inside, products from the Middle East, fresh bread spreads, and thick Turkish yoghurt, along with fruits and vegetables, attract non-Arab clients.

The outside of a Turkish supermarket in Treptow.

Organic supermarkets can also be of a smaller size in the heart of neighbourhoods, or they may belong to a chain, and these are usually located in the high street. The best-known chains are Bio Company, Denn’s, Alnatura or LPG. In these supermarkets, fruits and vegetables are privileged by buyers, as well as dairy products and eggs, not only because they are of biological origin, but also because there are regional and local options available.

Regional tomatoes in a bio supermarket.

It has been interesting to observe and talk with our participants about how this neighbourhood and shopping culture and dynamics influence the consumption habits of Portuguese migrants in Berlin. So, to learn more about this, stay tuned to TRANSITS.

Until next time!

Diana

Contextualising Sydney: 2# On the move

By the 1870s Sydney had grown beyond a walking-distance city. Only its wealthier citizens could afford private carriages or horse- buses to the more salubrious suburbs on the fringes of the increasingly crowded inner city. The population continued to expand with alarming speed, almost tripling in the 20 years from 1871. Luckily, this coincided with the development of new forms of transport technology: the railway and the tramway.

First train leaving from the new  Central Station, 1906.  Source: Activity 154 Railway and Tramway construction

Although Sydney’s rail system was first designed for industrial and rural freight linking Sydney with its hinterland, it soon proved its worth in carrying people. By the 1880s rail lines were being planted and built to cater for the new suburban dwellers. With land cheap and plentiful, The Australian penchant for detached suburban houses became a reality for many.

While the railway serviced the far-flung suburbs, tram serviced suburbs closer to the city center. Steam trams were put into service for the International Exhibition of 1879 and proved so popular that they were retained and extended. The trams were electrified from 1898 and by 1910 Sydney had one of the world’s most comprehensive tramway networks, bigger than Melbourne and rivaling even Glasgow.

The railway and the tramway became the arteries of Sydney. Real estate developers rush to subdivide large blocks of land and small farms, from the northern line up to Hornsby to the southern line beyond Como. As the population grew, housing developments began to reach out from the city in every direction. Most houses were built within a kilometer or two of a rail or train line, with little development between the main transport routes. 

Trams running through Railway Square in the 1920s. Source: Sydney Tramway Museum

More dwellings were built in Sydney in the 1920s than in any previous decade. By this time, Sydney had expanded along the northern beaches (a tram line to Narrabeen), the north shore train line, and along the western, south-western and southern lines. Parramatta, Windsor, and the other Macquarie era towns all remained as separate settlements, as did Manly. All major beach and Harbour resorts were served by ferry or tram. Ferry companies promoted weekend outgoings to Sydney’s pleasure destinations around the Harbour. The railways catered to picnickers and hikers by providing a station at the Royal National Park to the south of the city and regular weekend excursions to the Blue Mountains. Sydneysiders began their love affair with the outdoors and the endless delights of its harbour.

Melbourne, with its riches from gold, surpassed Sydney in population, wealth and political importance from the 1860s. “Marvellous Melbourne” grew much faster than Sydney, especially in the 1880s boom.  To demonstrate its achievements, Melbourne held two huge international exhibitions in the 1880s, bringing it world attention. Both Sydney and Melbourn suffered in the 1890s depression, but Sydney recovered more quickly than Melbourne. 

Such was the competition between Sydney and Melbourne that when Britain’s six Australian colonies joined to become the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901 the Constitution stated that the new national capital must be at least 100 miles from Sydney. the federal authorities chose a sheep station not far from Yass, which could be served with a rail spur off the main Sydney to Melbourne line. The site was proclaimed in 1911 and named Canberra in 1913.

While Melbourne hosted the federal parliament from 1901 to 1927 and, more importantly, the growing federal government bureaucracies, Sydney outstripped its southern rival in population. By the early 1920s, Sydney became the first Australian city to pass the one million mark.  

Observers had begun to see Melbourne as the more traditional, more European city and Sydney as the brasher, more American city. Melbourne boasted Edwardian bayside resorts while the surf clubs of Bronte and Bondi made Sydney the center of the Australian surf movement.

Sydney Harbour Bridge under construction, 1930. Source: National Museum of Australia

Australia’s first underground railway opened in Sydney in 1926, but the real triumph came in 1932 with the opening of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. The event received worldwide press coverage, not only because of the bridge’s size and harbour setting but because of images of a paramilitary horseman beating Labor Premier Jack Lang to the opening ribbon were wired around the world. The bridge became, overnight, the dominant international symbol for Australia.  Melbourne never recovered from this image coup, although it did successfully stage the 1956 Olympics. 

More rivalry was to come. After height restrictions were lifted in 1957, a building frenzy reshaped downtown Sydney into a “mini Manhattan”. Its ascendancy as the financial capital of Australia matched the rising skyline.   The completion of the spectacular Opera House in 1973 inspired a new era of Sydney pride and a dramatic new focus for the city and harbour. As a final blow, Melbourne lost its bid to stage the 1996 Olympic Games and Sydney won gloriously 2000. 

Until next time,
Vânia

Sources: 

Scott, Ernest. 2002. A Short History of Australia.  Available online

State Library of NSW

The Museum of Sydney 

 

Notes from the field: Luanda #2 Angolan Medea analysis

Within the scope of the project Transits, we have decided to conduct a media content analysis, considering the online available written press, between January 2017 and June 2018. It will focus on the production of media representations about “migrants”, “emigrants”, “immigrants”, “expatriates” and other related terms.

Focusing on the flows from and to Berlin, Luanda, Lisbon and Sydney, this analysis will explore the way migrants and migrations are represented in the public sphere, as well as the type and degree of acceptation/hostility these populations are facing in the contexts of analysis. The type of news that is being privileged by the selected press will also be an object of study.

The survey in the Angolan press focus on two daily newspapers: Jornal de Angola and O País.

The preliminary analysis for the Angolan media is divided into three items: general migration flows to Angola, conjuncture in Portugal and Angola, general migration flows in the world. In the first and second items, brief content analysis will be carried out, in the item general migration flows in the world will only be described as the kind of news that each newspaper focuses more.

This post, in addition to the brief biographical reference of the newspapers, contemplates a brief content analysis regarding the item general migration flows to Angola, taking into account the more focused themes in the different sections of the respective newspapers. In the next post about Luanda#3, the analysis will focus on the items conjuncture in Portugal and Angola and general migration flows in the world.

Jornal de Angola

At the time of Angolan Independence on 11th November 1975, the newspaper Província de Angola, founded on August 16th 1923 by Adolfo Pina, owned by Companhia Gráfica de Angola, S.A., changed its name to Jornal de Angola. In June 1976, Agostinho Neto, then President of the Republic, nationalized the journal under the Decree-Law nº 51/76 (Supplement of the Jornal de Angola, 26th June 2016, pp. 2,4).

The journal’s headquarters are located in Empresa Gráfica de Angola, S.A., where it started to operate and continues to do so through the publishing company Edições Novembro, E.P. Its current editions include:

Jornal de Angola (http://jornaldeangola.sapo.ao//);

Jornal dos Desportos http://jornaldosdesportos.sapo.ao/);

Jornal Angolano de Arte e Letras (http://jornalcultura.sapo.ao/);

Economia & Finanças (http://jornaldeeconomia.sapo.ao/empresas).

Jornal de Angola is a daily newspaper, controlled by the Angolan State. It celebrated 43 years in June of 2019.

Distributed in the country’s 18 provinces, it has a daily average distribution of 12,934 copies, through direct sales and by subscription. Luanda, Moxico and Benguela are the provinces where the largest number of sales is reported (Supplement of the Jornal de Angola, 26th June 2016, p.3).

The online publication of news is distributed in the following sections: “Politics”, “Reports”, “Opinion”, “World”, “Economy”, “Provinces”, “Society”, “People”, “Culture” and “Sport”.

 At the weekend Jornal de Angola also publishes notebooks and supplements. The selection of themes and news is varied. It can fall on a determined theme – fashion, technology and management, etc.  – or focus more on the social, cultural and economic field of one of the provinces of Angola.

O País

The newspaper O País, founded in November 2008 by the Medianova group, recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The online publication of news is distributed by the sections: “Politics”, “Society”, “Economy”, “Opinion”, “Culture”, “World” and “Sport”.

The Grupo Medianova, the largest private communication group in Angola, is the owner of Zimbo TV, Rádio Mais, the newspapers O País and Semanário Económico, the Revista Vida and Revista Exame.

Angolan press – preliminary analysis / General migration flows to Angola [1]

Jornal de Angola

O País

Section

Number of news

Section

Number of news

Policy

208

Policy

52

World

154

Culture

35

Sport

137

Economy

20

Economy

111

Society

18

Society

52

Opinion

12

People

49

Sport

12

Culture

49

World

5

Provinces

19

Grand total

154

Opinion

8

 

 

Report

5

 

 

Notebooks and supplements

 

 

Suplemento fim-de-semana

5

 

 

Jornal Metropolitano da Capital Angolana

2

 

 

Grand total

799

 

 

The more focused topics in the two newspapers news about general migratory flows to Angola are:

Migration policies

Visa waiver program, flow regulation, expulsion and repatriation of illegal immigrants, detention.

Borders

Trade, security and control, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Republic of Congo, and Zambia.

Refugees

Exodus, borders, welcoming, census, biometric registration, support and financing, repatriation (voluntary/involuntary), return, detention.

Political economy

Foreign investment, foreign workers, national production, import-export, The new Regime for Foreign Nationals, The New Foreign Investment Law.

United Nations data showed that there were 106,845 immigrants in Angola for the year 2015, which is equivalent to only 0.4% of the population of the country. The three most represented nationalities were Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (40%/), Portugal (15%/) and Cape Verde (10%/).

When talking about migrant populations, Angolan newspapers appear to only report on citizens of DRC and Portugal in Angola, but not Cape Verdeans. These papers also report a strong presence of “Chinese” and “West African” immigration (Malians, Senegalese, Guineans, Gambians, Mauritanians, etc.) to Angola. However, “Chinese” immigration to Angola is rarely identified in official statistical sources.

As we will see, daily life (civic participation, reception networks, residential insertion, professional, leisure practices, etc.) of Portuguese immigrants in Angola, little or nothing is highlighted in the news of the two newspapers (as regards the period under review). On the other hand, there are several reports that talk about immigrants and refugees of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Angola. The influx of immigrants and refugees from the DRC coincides with political turmoil within eastern DRC.

This is most relevant in seven of the 18 provinces of Angola (Cabinda, Zaire, Malanje, Uíge, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Moxico) which share a border with the DRC. The Jornal de Angola has called this shared border ‘the gateway for many illegal immigrants’, mainly from the DRC and West Africa. The lack of resources and border control mechanisms and the formation of migration networks to aid immigration also appear as factors that support and encourage “illegal” immigration into Angola.

As one would expect, the news reports grossly overestimate migrants’ incidence of participation in illegal immigration and crime. These news articles are most often presented through essentialist, deterministic and descriptive perspectives of the complexity of migratory flows to Angola. The centrality of the issue is so great that several pieces describe in detail the number of illegal immigrants registered, as well as the number, degree and type of offenses or crimes committed.

News reports on the experiences of migrants from a perspective of illegality and criminality mainly describe crimes of – quoted and translated from reports – smuggling (of various types of goods) or financial crime, falsification of documents, sale of narcotics (“liamba”), illegal logging and diamond smuggling, poaching, forest devastation (for logging), and the involvement of nationals (ordinary citizens and sobas/“traditional authorities”) and foreigners in networks of aid to illegal immigration.

There are some reports of homicide and abduction of immigrants in Angola. Chinese entrepreneurs based in Angola appear to suffer the most from this type of violence.

As I mentioned earlier, the centrality of the issue of migration from the point of view of illegal immigration and crime is so great that several pieces describe in detail the number of illegal immigrants, the degree and type of crimes, etc. The dissemination of these numbers wins emphasis through official figures called on to talk about migration (police, provincial governors, other politicians), much to the detriment of the voices of the immigrants or of another approach to migration.

Officials called to talk about migration have included: National Police, Angolan Armed Forces, Angola Border Guard Police, Migration and Foreigners Service, Criminal Investigation Service, Detention Center for Illegal Foreigners, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Anibal de Melo Press Center, etc.

There is a systematic convergence of the news articles on the need to adopt policies for security and border control and regulation of migration flows. The news does not contemplate any form of policy formulation for the socio-cultural integration of immigrants and granting nationality.

Needless to say, officials called to speak about migration present the public with several controversial speeches. In several reports, it is argued that the presence of “illegal immigrants” puts “the country’s sovereignty and the economy at risk”, namely: “national unity”, “territorial integrity of the country”, “peace” and “stability in the construction of the nation”.

The repeated representation propagated about the condition of migrants through notions such as “emigrant”, “immigrant”, “foreigner”, “expatriate” (and others…), regardless of your legal background (“illegal”, “legal”, “resident”, “non-resident”, etc.), suggest a confused notion of its meaning.

Described as “transgressors”, “undocumented”, “irregular”, “clandestine”, (but also) “citizens”, the illegal “immigrants”, “foreigners”, “refugees”, “expatriate”…, are often the target of negative narratives that include violence, prejudice, informal market (poverty/ unemployment/social problems/forms of survival), bribery, corruption, convictions, surveillance, repatriation, expulsion and detention.

However, the notions of “foreigner” and “expatriate” also appear in some parts concerning certain labour flows (“Portuguese entrepreneurs”, “Chinese entrepreneurs”, “foreign worker”, etc.) and certain types of consumption, such as real estate demand.

Homogenized ethnic categories and status of nationality are used to serve as generic names about the status of migrant: “citizens of the DRC”, “DRC foreigners”, “foreigners from the Republic of Congo”, “citizens of Congolese nationality”, “citizens of West African countries”, “citizens of the Central African Republic” the “foreigners of Congo Brazzaville”, “citizens of Asian origin”, “Cameroon”, “Malian”, “Chinese”, etc.

Poor profiling of migrants in terms of their migration objectives, education, employment, age, resources, family dynamics, etc. does not mean that there aren’t sometimes references to gender, age (“men”, “women”, “children”) and/or regions of origin migrants or refugees (“Kaisai refugees”).

1] The difference in the number of news between the two newspapers is due to the fact that the online version (not paid) of the newspaper O PAÍS, unlike Jornal de Angola, only provides a limited number of news by section. As new news comes in, others are no longer available. Faced with this limitation, the collected of news in the newspaper O País (started in March 2018) only covers the period from November 14th 2017 to June 30th 2018, for each section. The World section of the newspaper O País contemplates only news about Africa (this also explains the difference in the number of news between the two newspapers, to the world section). And the Sports Section (of the newspaper O País) although it refers to soccer news only, some publications cover other modalities. It was in the policy section where we collected more news.

Notes from the field, Berlin #3 – A Portuguese supermarket in Berlin

Very near the Portuguese Embassy in Berlin, there is a Portuguese Supermarket which everyone has been telling me about ever since I arrived. The Portuguese families I have met, very rarely shop there, but they all have visited the supermarket at least once. They may go there looking for specific items for a special occasion like when they want to showcase Portuguese cuisine to friends or to get something for themselves as a “cure” for homesickness.

The supermarket displays many of the familiar food brands, bearing packages and tastes that remind us of home. Foods from Spain and South America can also be found. The corner café at the entrance serves coffee (including the Portuguese espresso, bica) and Portuguese pastries, but also homemade food cooked more to the taste of what is commonly served in other German cafés and restaurants. Indeed, the cashier informs me, most of the costumes are German who either live or work around the area, but also tourists staying in the next door hostel.

Cinnamon, a classic ingredient of patry cooking.

 

Candy.

Fried potatoes chips cut in the form of match sticks are an ingredient of one of our favourite salted cod recipes: bacalhau à Brás

Frozen salted cod fish.

One of the better-known rice brands.

One of the better-known pasta brands.

Soft drinks.

Water and beer.

 

Olive oil.

International brands like Nestle, own national brands with which we have a longstanding familiarity.

Wheat and corn flours.

The two better-known breakfast oats for children.

In the café, I had a bica (espresso) and a pão de ló cake.

More pastries in display at the café.

Petiscos including cold meats and seasoned olives.

 

 

Notes from the field: Lisbon #3 – Housing

Today I want to write about something that is rather basic in that it is relevant to everyone.

When talking about migration, being in a city (or ‘everyday life’), and material possessions, storage is an important aspect. This includes the storage of things and the body, but can also be the storage of memories, of challenges. As the title of the blog gives away, I am referring to houses and housing.

As a sociologist-cum-geographer (pretending to blend in with anthropologist for this project), location is a very important aspect to consider in people’s decision-making. In terms of statistics, Greater Lisbon boasts the following figures about mobility within the city (Portuguese Census, 2011).

Total

Population that did not change municipality

Immigrants arriving from another municipality

Immigrants from another country

2,821,876

2,656,749

102,827

26,275

Visually, the distribution of ‘immigrants from other countries’ can be seen in the maps generated through the Pordata website, and compared to that of the total population.

As is evident, the bulk of the population has been recorded as living in Greater Lisbon (and interestingly disproportionately on the main island of Madeira too).

When first looking into the daily life in Lisbon on my arrival in the city, I learnt of the stress on housing caused by over-tourism, the financial crisis, and a lack of public investment in housing. Housing inequality was (and is) rife in Lisbon. In an earlier blog, I spoke about this status of Lisbon as a tourist destination and some of the reasons as well as concerns regarding the same. This was the reason that in 2017, the Caravana pelo direito à habitação (Caravan for the right to housing) undertook it’s journey in Portugal and revealed a number of delipidated and hazardous living situations in which people are forced to live by virtue of being excluded from dialogue about the same, with 5 of 10 sites being in or around Greater Lisbon. It is often found that these sections of society feed the city in terms of being the labour that is unseen, or are unemployed, having been pushed to the fringes of the city. I must flag here that such housing is inhabited by migrants (internal and external) and Lisboetas (Lisboners) alike (as also seen in the maps above).

It is fascinating that paradoxically, on the other hand, ‘expat’ information websites present the very city from which the aforementioned people are expelled as an ideal location for any migrant. Evidently, the key is in the term ‘expat’, which appears to only relate to wealthy, usually white immigrants. With a range of anglicised names and an identification of “good neighbourhoods”, these websites inform you where you can go to ensure you don’t have to confront the ‘problems’ of being unsafe in this capital city.

One such description provided by Expatica (www.expatica.com) can be found in the image below. The description and image are telling of the type of migrants intended for the regions.

The website goes on to list neighbourhoods they suggest expats could live. The text is quoted below:

  • Alfama & Graca – Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, with winding streets and a great sense of both tradition and community
  • Avenidas New & Alvalade – Home to large expensive apartments and good amenities, but can suffer from a lack of atmosphere
  • Bairro Alto – A popular place to enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife, popular with young people and hipsters
  • Lower Town (Baixa) – A big draw for with property investors in search of apartments
  • Belem – A riverside neighbourhood with some of the city’s most famous museums
  • Restelo – Boasts a tranquil and laid back lifestyle, albeit with property prices to match
  • Campo de Ourique – Popular with middle-class families, but lacks a Metro station
  • Nations Park – A little further from the centre, boasts more contemporary architecture and a pleasant waterfront location
  • Prince Real – Within walking distance of the centre, property here can be expensive
  • Santos & Lapa – Popular with middle class locals and well-off retirees

It is interesting that all the descriptions seem to suggest some sort of wealth or capital (‘expensive apartments’, ‘popular’ – relating to gentrified areas, ‘famous museums’) and lifestyles that if spoken about deprived sections of society would not be considered positive (‘laidback’, ‘enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife’, ‘tradition and community’). In addition, when suggesting where to stay, they list areas along the linha (the train line along the coast of the River Tejo) specifically Cascais, Birre and Sintra. These neighbourhoods too are rather wealthy historically and currently.

Another such website with information for people who call themselves ‘expats’ is InterNations (www.internations.org). I will dwell on this further, but I mention this as a potential source of information and route to socialising for incoming migrants (expats/immigrants). The description on the landing page for Lisbon is telling on how Lisbon is ‘sold’ as a city to live in as (wealthy, white) expats.

While I am not arguing that suggested areas for living be primarily deprived neighbourhoods, I do wish to highlight this disparity that may be reinforced by such communication, sidelining certain types of migrants through virtue-signalling.

This is relevant as all my participants (Australians and Germans) for this research thus far live within or very close to the areas identified as desirable by these ‘expat’ websites. Three owned their house (all outside of Lisbon municipality) while two were renting (one within and one outside of the Lisbon municipality). This has a deep impact on how the city is experienced by them as a different class-group of migrants. It makes for an interesting understanding of goods and services and resources to which they have access, and how they structure their lives as migrants.

For more information on Portuguese census figures, visit Pordata (https://www.pordata.pt/).

Contextualising Sydney: 1# Port city

As I undertake the ethnographic fieldwork in Sydney as part of this research project, after reading some books, articles, visiting some museums and exploring the city I want to share my impressions and learnings with you.  In this post, I will start with the first of four posts which aim to contextualize the city of Sydney from it’s beginning until present days. 

In 1786 the British government cast its eyes southward to New South Wales with the intention of relieving its overcrowded jails and establishing a strategic presence in the southern hemisphere. In May 1787, under the competent command of Captain Arthur Philip, the First Fleet of 11 ships carrying over 700 convicts and over 600 officers, marines and seamen set sail from England.

The fleet anchored in Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 and Phillip founded a penal settlement on the banks of the Tank Stream. Government House, the first substantial building in the colony was the focus of social and political power from 1788 to 1845.

View of Sydney, c.1811, John Eyre; State Library of New South

In search of more fertile land, the settlement soon spread inland to Parramatta, where a town was laid out in 1790. Settlers also took up land near Bankstown and at Ryde, and along the rich alluvial plains of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.

The European invasion of Australia had a devastating effect on the Indigenous people. As the settlement grew, their traditional food sources declined and European diseases brought dramatic loss of life. The conflict quickly followed, despite resistance by Aboriginal warriors.

Map of Sydney, 16 April 1788; Source: Unkown

When Lachlan Macquarie arrived to replace the deposed Governor William Bligh in 1810, he described Sydney as a town “in a most ruinous state of decay”. He began a major building program and established a substantial road system, with convict Francis Greenway as his favoured architect. Macquarie’s willingness to provide opportunities for ex-convicts offended many free settlers. Yet his legacy today includes Hyde Park Barracks, the Conservatorium of Music (built as Government House stables), Parliament House and The Mint (wings of the “Rum” Hospital).

By the time Macquarie left the colony in February 1822, Sydney had grown in size and sophistication from a penal settlement to a major trading port. It boasted a range of small businesses, a newspaper, a bank, a hospital, and lunatic and benevolent asylums. The census of 1828, which did not include Indigenous people, recorded a population of 10 800. Free immigrants, who had tricked into the colony from as early as 1793, comprised 13 percent of the non- Indigenous population.

Image from the Museum of Sydney by author, Vânia Pereira Machado

Sydney with its deep harbour and strategic position began its maritime life as Australia’s grandest port and remains so to this day, although most port activity has now shifted to Port Botany. Sealing and whaling provided most exports from the early colony. The wool industry soon eclipsed both, faltering only during the depression of the 1840s. Agriculture and mineral exports expanded while most imports came from other parts of the British Empire. Port facilities reminded concentrated around Circular Quay until the boom years of the 1880s and the development of huge wool stores at Darling Harbour.

The chaotic inner city quickly outgrew Macquarie’s street layout, and the maze of slums around the wharf areas became a focus of fear and division. The outbreak of bubonic plague in 1900 and a continuing death toll from typhoid led to a huge government clean-up of The Rocks and the building of new wharves from Woolloomooloo to Pyrmont.

Map of the town of Sydney 1837; Engraved by John Carmichael of Sydney

The Woolloomooloo finger wharf, hailed on its opening in 1912 as a “cathedral of commerce”, served the wool trade. The Walsh Bay finger wharves, built between 1905 and the 1920s after the plague clean-up, were also monuments to a new age.

Sydney grew rapidly after the discovery of gold near Bathurst in 1851. Although attention soon shifted to be more lucrative Victorian goldfields, Sydney’s economy had already benefited. Migrants poured into New South Wales from Britain and Ireland, lured by the promise of cheap land and agriculture opportunities. most settled in Sydney, where their labour was needed.

The inner southern and western suburbs were soon dotted with tanneries, breweries, bakehouses, clothing and boot factories, and a huge abattoir at Glebe Island. the foreshores of the harbour were fouled by industrial effluent and the skies polluted by smoke.

Gas gradually replaced coal and wood-fires stoves and also lit the city until the coming of electricity in the early 1990s. New dams were built to provide a reliable water supply for Sydney’s growing suburbs and sewage disposal was improved with ocean outfalls at Bondi and Manly.  Sydney had all the necessities of a growing city, thousands of kilometers from the great imperial ports of Britain, Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Until next time,
Vânia

 

Sources: 

Scott, Ernest. 2002. A Short History of Australia.  Available online

State Library of NSW

The Museum of Sydney 

 

Notes from de field: Luanda #1, Observing the city of Luanda

Founded in 1576, Luanda is the most populated province in the country. At the time of independence, it had about 500,000 inhabitants (Colaço 1992, p. 5). In 2014, the INE/AO [1] estimated a population of around 6.5 million living in Luanda (INE/AO 2014, pp. 23, 27; INE/AO, 2016, p. 32), corresponding to 27% of the total population of the country and a density of 347 inhabitants per km².

The same source reports that 53% of the population of the territory is concentrated in only four provinces of the country: Luanda, Huíla, Benguela and Huambo (INE/AO 2015, p. 35). Furthermore, approximately 80% of the companies in Angola are located in four provinces (Luanda, Benguela, Huíla and Cuanza Sul). They employ about 53.5% of the workers. Benguela is the second province, after Luanda, with the highest concentration of companies (data referring to the period between 2003 and 2014) (INE/ AO, 2015, pp. 114-139).

The historical, political, economic and social impact of colonialism and the long periods of armed violence experienced in Angola – during the war for independence, under the process of decolonization and the civil war that broke out after independence – created organizational and developmental particularities in Angolan society, influencing group relations and individual attitudes.

Luanda is not only the capital of Angola but also a city constituted by a series of contrasts and realities, within which the structure of relations, networks and exchanges are shaped by the coexistence of distinct social conditions and multiple asymmetries and lifestyles.

With population growth and the effects of a prolonged war, several neighborhoods were expanded towards the periphery of Luanda. Characterized by precarious construction and lack of sanitation [2], these spaces of horizontal occupation and unplanned urban diffusion became sites of discrimination, standing in contrast to neighborhoods equipped with urban services and necessary infrastructure. These poor neighborhoods differ distinctly from the musseques of colonial times based on the forms of occupation of the spaces and the materials used for construction (especially cement). They cover more than 50% of the areas of the city (Colaço 1992) [3]. 

The stories in these neighborhoods do not describe only lifestyles of poverty, misery and improvisation (Carvalho 1992), unemployment and school failure of an undifferentiated, proletarian and low-income population (Monteiro 1973). Contrary to the characterization of Monteiro (1973), we find different groups in the so-called musseques. They are differentiated by countries of origin and distinct migratory trajectories, including by their origin in the different regions of the country, the time of arrival in Luanda, coming from both urban centers and rural areas, the ethnic composition and internal diversity of the groups themselves, different religious communities of belonging, and other different networks. The distribution and spatial concentrations within the neighborhoods show distinct forms of occupation: one area may be dominated by a particular ethnic group, another may have a more diverse population, others still would have new arrivals, and some parts may be more impoverished, and so on.

In a civil society which lacks local management able to provide basic means of social organization (housing, employment, etc.), the informal market enables many individuals and families to acquire financial support or livelihood. Practised by thousands of Angolans on a permanent or occasional basis [4], informal commerce makes the Angolan capital the city of “street vendors”: the zungueira [5] or quitandeira, the roboteiro [6], the walking vendor [7]. Areas with high pedestrian movement, markets and sales outlets are significant social microcosms, not independent realities, of the organizational processes of any peripheral neighborhood or specific zone. Many Angolans practice their main economic activity there, thus guaranteeing family subsistence.

For many Angolan families, economic management is through buying (usually small quantities due to lack of capital) and selling whilst functioning under an unstable economic structure that is unable to support capital investment for medium or long-term bases. However, its economy is not only “buy-and-sell”, but also a gender economy. In many families, it is mainly women who play a central role in raising economic means of family subsistence. They sell in the larger markets or use these to buy the products they sell door-to-door, in the surrounding neighborhoods, in the smaller markets or as zungueiras (at outlets or around the city). The small profit from the daily sale of the retail products guarantees their daily sustenance.

The informal market is not the only structural problem in the city of Luanda. Decades of armed conflict, the sharp population increase, lack of an urban program of conservation, construction, alteration, recovery and expansion of the city (streets, sanitation, buildings, etc.), caused great wear of urban equipment and services provided to citizens. The lack of schools, hospitals, housing, the degradation of buildings and public roads, a poor sanitation and garbage collection network, a poor energy and water supply network, a significant increase in anarchic construction, urban crime, juvenile delinquency, without forgetting the chaotic traffic and “gasosa” [8], incorporate and interconnect the complex housing and social problems of Luanda.

The agglomeration of urban garbage in the streets and neighborhoods of the city, along with the climatic conditions (especially in the “hot and rainy season”), make Luanda an area of a high incidence of endemic diseases like cholera, malaria, yellow fever, etc.

In response to urban criminality and juvenile delinquency, two salient realities in the recent post-war context guards armed with Kalashnikovs are often stationed at various commercial spaces, companies, banks, properties, etc.

The chaotic traffic [9], as well as the candongueiros [10] and their famous blue and white Toyota Hiace, are part of the daily agitations of city life. Candongueiros represent the most popular passenger transport in Luanda (equivalent to collective taxis) [11] and appeared via private initiative as public transport was deteriorating without being replaced. Many private car and motorcycles owners [12] also carry passengers, in addition to the recent, oversized and overly expensive (for ordinary citizens) formal taxis network.

Likewise, ever present in various acts of citizens’ daily life is the payment of “gasosa”. A bribery mechanism used as a means of expediting a process, purchased favour, avoiding a traffic ticket (with or without fault), lowering the cost of a service provided/bought (with profit for both parties), etc.

Marked by urbanization patterns of colonial times and Marxist housing policies of the 1980s and 1990s, Luanda is now a city under construction and in transformation. Urban planning is in open confrontation with real estate development, with accelerated growth. 

It is the real estate explosion (modern buildings, luxury hotels, head office, restaurants, leisure spaces, etc.) alongside poorer neighborhoods where many thousands of Angolans live under the stigma of suburban marginality, violence, unemployment, school failure, to name a few (Viegas 2011, 2012, Croese 2012, Robson 2001).

A trip through the new expressway to South Luanda/Talatona shows a city of contrasts. On the one hand, the musseques and enormous precariousness, on the other, luxury condominiums, expensive houses and the Belas shopping Center [13].

Around Luanda, there are several cities and municipalities (Quilamba, Zango, Viana, Belas, Cacuaco) destined for an emerging middle class, built by Chinese, Portuguese, Brazilian and Angolan companies. New centralities as they call it. Providing various types of services (schools, nurseries, supermarkets, pharmacies, etc.), emerged from the need to reduce population concentration from the densely populated city centre to the periphery.

Similarly, noble areas of the city are being recovered. The promenade was recovered by the Portuguese construction companies Soares da Costa and Mota-Engil and the Luanda island by the Brazilian Odebrecht.

Along with real estate development and accelerated construction, schools and hospitals have also been built. However, there are still teachers and doctors missing. In some municipalities, it is difficult to find suitable schools and stable teaching staff. Public health presents many failures despite the strengthening of these professionals through agreements with Cuba, South Korea and Vietnam, as well as the private sector, in this case, at very high prices.

The differential coexistence of distinct social conditions and multiple asymmetries and lifestyles still stands out through forms of conviviality and consumption (such as imported luxury cars, branded luxury stores, leisure in fashionable restaurants and bars of Luanda Island, escapes to Mussulo Island, Cabo Ledo or Sangano, etc.). That includes not only the elite and middle-class Angolan, wealthy or emerging but also members of diplomatic corps and several expatriates, including Portuguese. Among Angolans and Portuguese, the term “tugolândia” is used to describe how some of the Portuguese migrants organize taxonomies of difference and distinction, selecting and attending leisure spaces in the Angolan capital, especially among peers.

[1] Nation Institute of Statistics – Angola.
[2] Neighborhoods born in colonial times and commonly known as “musseques”. The word musseque means “sand place” (mu = place, seke = sand) in Kimbundo, in reference to the sandy soil with reddish colour characteristic of Luanda.
[3] The author distributes the occupation of the spaces of the city of Luanda through four zones: the modern area (the downtown of Luanda), a transition area (former musseques in the process of urbanization), the periphery (musseques side by side with new neighborhoods), and an expanding area (new centralities as they currently call it), which is part of the project Luanda Sul.

[4] As a way to get money in times of “tightening”: illness of a family member, unemployment, etc.

[5] Women who walk the streets carrying merchandise on their heads or fixing themselves in specific points of the city of Luanda (markets, public squares, neighborhoods, entrances of supermarkets, arcades, street corner, crossings, etc.). They sell different products: fruit, fresh fish, dried fish, jinguba (peanut), homemade yogurt, cooked meals or meals cooked at the point of sale, industrialized products, cards with balance for mobile phone, etc. Some women, known as the “kinguilas“, are dedicated exclusively to the business of buying and selling foreign exchange on the street.
[6] Transporters of goods in hand pushed wheel carts, manufactured with wooden planks.
[7] Young people who circulate in the traffic and sell an almost unimaginable variety of products: fresh drinks (water, juices, beer), newspapers, magazines, tobacco, batteries, mobile phone chargers, but also hairbrushes, toilet brushes, hangers, toothbrushes, clothing, tools, appliances, etc.
[8] The act or effect of bribing (in cash or kind) someone who provides or facilitates a lucrative agreement. Although many of those who are confronted with “gasosa” requests in traffic, public services, etc., try to resist, most give in to the fact that it is more economical and practical to pay for “gasosa” than to follow the legal route.
[9] Many companies and entrepreneurs based in Luanda choose to hire experienced drivers in local traffic. To drive in Luanda, it is necessary to consider three fundamental rules: “circulate as far left as possible; the priority belongs to those who arrive first or with more speed; the larger vehicle is always right”.
[10] The term derives from the word candonga, used since the colonial period to refer to activities of smuggling and illegal trade.
[11] There is an extensive network of candongueiros throughout the city. The cost of a trip is around 150 Kwanzas (between € 0.40 to € 0.80 depending on the exchange rate), but the amount can go up taking into account the time of day or the weight of the passenger.
[12] Without specific designation of passenger transport service, nor taximeter, they call their customers by waving their arms.
[13] The first Shopping Center built in Angola, inaugurated on March 27, 2007.

Notes from the field – Berlin #2, Sardinhada in Berlin

Last weekend I attended the baby shower of one of our participating families in Berlin. There, I learned that the following weekend there would be a Portuguese party at Monbijou Park in central Berlin. No more information was given to me at the time, but a quick google search guided me to the facebook event.  The event was in effect a sardinhada (sardine barbecue), which is a very seasonal event particular to this time of the year. The sardine fishing season started just a couple of weeks ago and June is the month in which  street festivities are held in honour of Saint Anthony, Saint John or Saint Peter (popular saints or santos populares) in many locations across the country.The festivities include bonfires being held and barbecued sardines on bread sold in crowded streets to the sound of loudly playing pimba music

A view of the picnic at Monbijou park, with the grilling station at the back.

But the sardinhada in Monbijou didn’t seem to want to mimic the saints’ festivities from back home. For one thing, there was no loud music. The event looked more like a big picnic, the barbecue station selling the food and beverages and the partygoers  sitting in groups on the blankets they brought from home. Barbecues are permitted in most parks in Berlin, with special signs indicating the areas where they are permitted. This is one of the many uses of parks amongst Berliners. Other uses include sunbathing (often in swimwear), sitting on their own folding chairs and having drinks, hanging their own hammocks in trees, play ball games, etc. The parks seem to define Berlin public life and its inhabitants’ lifestyles, and if this is true, then it couldn’t be truer than in this very hot month of June.

As I park my bike and walk through the crowd, Portuguese, German, Italian and Spanish can be heard. There are people of all ages. I enter the line to buy food. Behind me, two middle-aged women speak Brazilian Portuguese, ahead of me in line, two women in their 20s use youtube on their smartphones to show an English speaking friend, what pimba music sounds like. 

Sardines and German sausages. Portuguese rock salt.

Beer ans soft drinks on ice.

Apron.

From the grilling stand, not only the usual sardines and bifanas (grilled pork steak sandwich) were sold, but here we could also find sausages, which are not traditionally found in sardinhadas I know from home. Is this another Berliner adaptation? I order two sardines on wheat bread, although cornbread is also available. I also order a pineapple Sumol from the ice-bucket holding Portuguese brand beers and soft drinks. Red and white Portuguese whine is also available.

The lady who was slicing the bread stops her task to greet a friend who hands out to her an appron which reads Portugal. This provokes a reaction from her colleagues: they jokingly demand one too.  The drinks and food are provided by a Portuguese supermarket in Berlin, and the bread by a Portuguese-Greek bakery, both publicized. I am told that pastel de nata was available in previous edition, but to my disappointment they are not being sold this year.

The organizers are holding constant 10 minute workshops of bass drums, so soon there is a soundtrack to the event! Later, the rancho (folklore dance) also performs at a near tarmac crossing inside the park. The members of the rancho seem to be all Portuguese or Portuguese descent, and ages seem to go from twenty to sixty-something. Two small girls who look under five, also participate at times, guided by the older performers. The performers are not wearing performing clothes, but their own summer clothes. A gentleman dancer, is wearing a Cristiano Ronaldo Portuguese national football jersey. A lady dancer wears filigree heart earrings from the north of Portugal.

It is seven o’clock but the sun is still shining and the threat of drizzle was just a threat and didn’t spoil the picnic. The sardines seem to be over as only steaks and sausages can be seen in the grill. The last loaves of bread are being sold to the public. I get mine before I leave!

Bass drums workshop.

Notes from the Field: Lisbon #2, Observing meals

It’s always a bit strange to ask someone about their eating habits and then requesting them to let you observe them. Sometimes it feels a bit cheeky as you would eventually be invited to eat; if you’ve warned them in advance, you’re potentially going to be in for an elaborately prepared treat! Alongside this is the more spontaneous, honest, everyday cooking. That isn’t to deny the honesty and normality of elaborate cooking. Wanting to prepare a whole meal is also very much an everyday practice. However, catching someone off guard offers a different side to this.

In the end, they have all had one commonality: they are ‘homely’. I could not find another way to describe it. As someone who has lived alone, I can relate to batch-cooking, making a quick soup or frying an egg as a meal. It is very familiar and no less ceremonial than the elaborate meals. Indeed, one seems more everyday than the other. Yet, the other also presents a type of ceremoniality (‘doing a ceremony’) and indeed becomes part of the everyday, routine nature of self-care and preservation through food.

On this note of the ceremony, I wish to present three instances in which food consumption was part of the meeting. Based on the variation in information provided, the nature of the meal changed, as one would expect. This variation in information provided related to the intended planning of the meetings. For example, in case 2 it was not intended that I observe meal preparation that day. Similarly, in case 3 shopping and preparation were not intended to be presented to me.

Participant No.

Shopping

Informed about need to observe a meal

Meal cooked by participant

Spontaneous?

1

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pre-meditated

2

Yes

No

Yes

Spontaneous, out of need

3

No

Yes

No

Part of weekly routine

In case 1, the meal was particularly prepared with me in mind, alongside an overlap of their own consumption practice. The shopping too was tailored to the meal. In the preceding meeting with the participant, when I asked what the individual was going to cook after our meeting, they said it was a dal (South Asian lentil dish). This was a practice picked up by the participant’s husband’s experience of living in South Asia. The Participant then offered to cook some for me as I said I had not had it in a long time. I am Luso-Indian/South Asian.

Image by author, Sinead D’Silva

In case 2, the meeting itself was organized around the need to observe the shopping process. As the participant must organize their shopping days carefully to incorporate personal mobility requirements, the shopping incorporated items needed on a longer-term basis. There was no list involved, and the individual had the types of food they wanted to buy in mind. This included staples (like pasta), snacks, and fruit and veg. One of the items purchased was because I expressed surprise when looking at the products on display – it was a different type of bread. When we got back, we continued to talk and eventually it was lunch time and we were both hungry, so we tried the bread with egg and a spread from their country of origin. 

Image by author, Sinead D’Silva

Finally, in case 3, I was invited to observe a meal-focused weekly practice in which the participant wished to present their everyday routine. It was also a revelation of the embeddedness of this participant in the local culture brought about in part by conjugal ties (the individual had married a Portuguese person). The food was therefore Portuguese, arroz do pato, as this included the participant’s extended family. It was not cooked by the participant. On a personal, regular basis, the participant cooks more simple food, with more vegetables. They also mentioned cooking curries often as their husband liked such food.

Image by author, Sinead D’Silva

The topic is the same: food consumption practice. They were all also women, accounting for gender. Yet, the ways in which individuals go about deliberating not just what to eat, but also what to present as their eating practices is telling of a social process of food involving a sense of symbolism as a medium of interaction.

Alongside these different ways in which individuals choose to present themselves or find themselves responding to a situation spontaneously, is a commonality in presenting the self and a sense of hospitality which cuts across cultures. As a result, I always left fed with food and stories.

Kathy Burrell at ICS this month

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