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material culture, migration and everyday life

Category: Portugal

Migration and migrants in the media

The farewell of Portuguese migrants (DN); Protests in favor of refugees in Germany (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch); Immigrant detention center in the Manus Island, Australia (Reuters)

The analysis of the media is a contextualization task, the objective of which is to help us understand the prevalent representations of migrants and migration issues, as well as the prevalent representations of the contexts covered by our project (Portugal, Angola, Australia and Germany).

Written press sources from each of the countries were selected according to their representativeness in terms of circulation, influence on public opinion and tendency to reproduce the content of other national publications. The news pieces were collected via the newspapers’ websites. The period covered is January 2017 to June 2018.

The task is ongoing, however, we have finalized the collection and preliminary analysis of the Portuguese newspapers Público e Diário de Notícias, from which a total of 818 journalistic pieces have been collected.

Relating to migration, the themes most covered by these two newspapers were, firstly, the restrictive migratory policies in countries like the USA,  Italy and Hungary; followed by the Mediterranean migratory flow. In terms of national themes, those most written about were  Golden Visas and the naturalisation of migrants. Within emigration, the bulk of the focus was about demography and specific professions.

Australia appears mainly in pieces about terrorism and pedophilia. Migration here appears in relation to the illegal detention of refugeesThe news about Portuguese in Australia are overwhelmingly concerning surf events. There are no pieces about Australians in Portugal.

The pieces concerning Angola report mainly the economic crisisthe power transition between presidents Santos and Lourenço and operation Fizz. As for migration, the news reports on migratory policies. News about Portuguese-Angolan relations focuses on diplomatic and economic relations. The news coverage about Angolans in Portugal is very small, with a focus on the number of Angolans who live in Portugal, and Angolan students’ difficulties in receiving money from Angola.

Germany is portrayed as a  strong economy that influences Europe and Portugal. News about migration focus on crimes against immigrants and immigration advocatesmigration policies and refugees. Portuguese migrants appear in news about nurses and Portuguese companies in trade fairs.  News about Germans in Portugal focus on German companies.

We will continue to share our findings as they emerge.

Migration to Portugal: A very brief story of colonialism

In the first blog post about migration to Portugal, we attempted to trace the recent trends in migration with tourism as a route facilitating the same. The aim was to highlight the ways in which the idea of an idyllic, relaxed, cheap, yet budding economy has resulted in people being attracted to the geography. However, this has not been the only cause, and migration is not new to Portugal. Since the 1400s, Portugal was a coloniser country and remained so until the end of the 1900s. It was only in 1974 that decolonisation as a process was initiated by the country following the overthrow of the near-50-year-long dictatorship through what came to be called the Carnation Revolution. Portuguese Colonisation saw the movement of people and things between colonies and to the coloniser.

Fuelled by wealth from the Catholic Church and the nobility, Portuguese ships set sail from the ports of the country and its neighbouring Spain, starting first with the African continent. The main agendas were therefore conversion (to Catholicism) and trade. Thus, there was a systematic flow of people in the direction of the colonies for purposes of ruling and extracting resources. However, another aspect was important to trade, that of the ‘trade’ of labour, i.e. humans, particularly from the African continent, called the Slave Trade. Lisbon saw the first ‘consignment’ of slaves arrive from the so-called ‘discoveries’ in the African continent in 1441. The slave trade was nothing more than an assertion of power to help construct nations on the basis of racist white supremacy, and Portugal has recorded the highest number of people trafficked through this.

Over the years, and under the belief that Portugal did not have ‘colonies’ but rather extensions of the Portuguese world, there has been significant movements of people, largely from Europe to the colonies but also vice versa. The objective of Portuguese colonialism was to build a Portuguese culture across geography, done by replacing local culture and language. However, this subsequently presented the opportunity for Portuguese speaking countries to maintain some ties amongst themselves.

Colonialism remains a contested part of Portuguese history. In Lisbon, recent proposals to build a museum of colonialism was a point of debate amongst scholars in the country, some of which wrote an open letter condemning such a move for its potential to glorify colonialism. Lisbon itself already venerates its colonial past through the rather blatantly titled Monument of Discoveries, and its maritime advances through the Maritime Museum in the capital and elsewhere throughout the country, not limited to the southern coast, Algarve. Earlier in 2018, a memorial monument for those who suffered under slavery too was contested with some suggesting that Portuguese colonialism was relatively timid. Pitted against Spanish colonialism which employed massacre as its modus operandi, Portugal used (cultural) assimilation to gain control of their colony. It does appear that Portugal is attempting to clear their name for the deeds by extending support to migrants arriving through what has recently been called the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in Europe. The long-term effects of this attempt to build up a recovering economy is yet to be seen.

The debate on migration in Portugal is therefore not new. There are multi-faceted ways in which Portugal portrays itself as a destination for migrants. It is against this backdrop that we must consider the movements of people, and understand who occupies which aspect of life in Portugal. The nationalities proposed for this study offer a unique diversity of typically richer economies. The rhetoric of migration is often focused on a South-North flow, with a notion of the poor from the South moving for economic or social reasons to the ‘rich’ North. Little attention is paid to movement of elites to the North, for example, and the complexities regarding who travels from where, and for what purpose.

Migration to Portugal: The touristification of Lisbon

It has been 10 years since the European Financial Crisis of 2008. In 2011, Portugal’s request for financial assistance through loans worth €78 billion from the EU and IMF came with directives of the Troika to implement austerity measures in order to see to the funds being returned. Under the right-wing government, these policies were quickly implemented, despite the crippling effect it would have on the population. This also included cutting spending on public services including healthcare. The dissatisfaction with such policies which had a crippling effect on the lives of Portuguese people was particularly seen through protests in Lisbon.

The repercussions of the crisis often focus on austerity measures implemented in the country, displacing many in search of jobs elsewhere within the EU and indeed afar. However, following the election of a left-wing, socialist government, the shift away from austerity has said to have brought about a drastic improvement in the economy. By 2017, Portugal had repaid its bailout loans. Rejecting austerity and investment in social enterprise supported the situation. However, it was also the blossoming of another industry that supported this change, namely tourism. In 2017, Portugal recorded receiving 12.7 million international tourists, a third of which was to Lisbon. Lisbon, in particular, has become a hub of attraction not only for leisure seekers, but also those looking for employment in the sector. The relatively low cost of living, compared to the remainder of Western Europe, is another point of attraction. The capital Lisbon continues to attract young people en masse who choose to stay for prolonged periods of time owing to the allure of the location. Simultaneous to this, young Portuguese people have been leaving the country in search of better-paid employment even before the crisis. This decline in the country’s population has resulted in the Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, calling for a push in immigration to the country, particularly skilled labour.

Despite the positive implications of tourism which, it would appear, results in migration to the country for long durations, these changes to come with some warnings. As people migrate and visit the city, it raises questions about the sustainability of such an industry, including whether the country has considered problems of over-tourism. Nevertheless, Portugal has somewhat emerged from its cocoon of crisis. It is yet to be seen whether tourism carries the country into a utopia or dystopic Brave New World.

Who is Portugal in the geography of contemporary migrations?

Like other European countries Portugal has a long history of emigration dating back to the colonial past. Immigration, in turn, is a relatively recent phenomenon. After immigration, beginning in 1974, had overcome emigration for almost three decades there has been a growing migration deficit since the mid-2000s. In other words, at levels that are only parallel to the population movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

According to the UN, Portugal presented na emigration rate of 22.1% against an immigration rate of 8.1%, being the origin of migrations to countries with more stable economies in Europe – the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany – and the destination of migrations originating in Cape Verde, Romania and Brazil. Considering the four countries analyzed in the project, Portugal not only has the highest percentage of exits but also distances a lot from the others (4.9%; Australia 2.2%; Angola: 1.9%). The same source indicates that among the total number of portuguese emigrants (2 306 321), 4% lived in Germany (98 464), 1% in Australia (20 044) and 1% in Angola (15 528). UN data indicate the presence of 837,257 immigrants in Portugal, in 2015, among which Angolans represent 18% of the flows (151,273), Germans 3% (26,048) and Australians 0.1% (1 164) only.

Portugal: one of the EU countries with fewer immigrants

Among countries of the European Union (EU 28) Portugal stays at the twenty-first place, with just 3.8% of foreign residents between population (Observatório das Migrações).

In the context of the european crisis of recent years, where effects of economic and labor contractions were more pronounced in Portugal than in many other countries of the EU, Portugal has registered successive decreases in the number of foreigners living in the country. However, from 2015, according to Eurostat values, not only did the number of foreigners resident in Portugal has been growing again (figure 1), as the structure of the ten most representative nationalities has also changed (figure 2).

Gráfico 1: International migrations (permanent movements) from and to Portugal, 2006-2016

Chart elaborated by the project “Transits” based on Eurostat values, Database on Population and Social Conditions, Demography and Migration (pop).

Despite the reduction registered in relation to 2015 (- 1.6%) Brazil has remained the most expressive nationality in 2016, representing 20.4% of the total number of foreign residents in Portugal. After Brazilians, there are the Cape Verdeans (9.2%), the Ukrainians (8.7%), the Romanians (7.7%) and the Chinese (5.7%) which have grown 5.5% compared to the previous year.

Gráfico 2: Top representative nationalities of foreigners residing in Portugal

Chart elaborated by the project “Transits” based on data from SEF.

On the other hand, there have been more and more citizens from European Union countries choosing Portugal to live. The French registered a growth of 33.8% compared to 2015, and in 2016 they were in ninth place (2.8%) ahead of the spanishs (2.8%). In its turn, the United Kingdom was in sixth place (4.9%), with growth of 12.5%, supplanting Angola (4.3%) and Guinea Bissau (3.9%).Acquisitions of portuguese nationals of non-EU citizens are one of the responsible for the registered changes.

Portugal: the country of the European Union with more emigrants around the world.

Human migrations present today new routes and configurations, which contributes to their increasing visibility and diversity. In 2015, the number of international immigrants was 243 million, corresponding to 3.3% of the global population. Although the number of international migrants has increased in the past recent decades, their relative weight on the world population continues to be discrete (from 2.3% to 3.3% between 1965 and 2015).

Portuguese (%) in the top 15 host countries

Map elaborated by the project “Transits” based on data from United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015).

According to the UN, Portugal would have in 2015 approximately 2.3 million emigrants, who represent 0.9% of the total number of world emigrants for that year. Considering that the weight of the Portuguese population in the world population is 0.14%, Portugal presents a sevenfold increase concerning the number of emigrants. This makes of Portugal the country of the European Union with more emigrants in proportion to its resident population[1]. According to the same source, there are five main host countries that account for 68% of the Portuguese emigrants: France (31%), the USA (17%), Switzerland (9%) and Canada (7%). The remaining 32% are distributed around Spain (5%), the United Kingdom (4%), Germany (4%), Luxembourg (4%), Venezuela (2%), South Africa %), Australia (1%), Netherlands (1%) and Angola (1%).

[1] Considering only the countries with more than one million inhabitants.

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