1. Presentation

This is the blog of TRANSITS, a project on international migration, material culture and everyday life. TRANSITS team will use it to disseminate and highlight the outcomes of the project, as well as info, events and relevant international publications related to the topics under study.

Portugal is a particularly interesting context to tackle contemporary global circulations of people. As a result of the last world economic crisis, the country experienced in the last decade and is experiencing in the present considerable population movements. The rise in long-term departures of people from different social backgrounds in the recent past is being balanced by less numerous, although increasingly significant, arrivals resulting from new[1] and old[2] mechanisms of attraction. Today’s’ circulations generate new governance issues[3] which need to be addressed in an integrated manner in order to depict and analyse the (often) contradictory aspects of this specific migration context.

TRANSITS addresses specific movements in and out of Portugal through the study of their material dimensions. It will investigate how and to what extent contemporary material culture and consumption practices are implicated in the expectations, imaginaries, and experiences of present-day circulations of people to and from four major cities: Berlin, Lisbon, Luanda and Sydney.

TRANSITS builds on the experience gained while undertaking previous research (Atlantic Crossings). The project uses a mixed methods design comprising extensive (quantitative and qualitative) research and ethnography and promotes an original approach to the underexplored intersections of movement and materiality in the present-day context of economic instability and emergence of new trends in global relationships of power.

2. Research Goals

TRANSITS draws on the potential of its innovative (material culture) perspective to: a) investigate new dimensions in migrants’ daily lives and confront their diversity in terms of expectations, routes, destinations, temporalities and outcomes; and b) illuminate how, to what extent and with what consequences contemporary circulations of people and things feed, boost and impact each other.

TRANSITS seeks answers to the following questions:

a) How to characterize the flows of people and things, their intersections and differentiating logics?

b) How does materiality work to produce imaginaries of movement and to evaluate possible options of destination?

c) What do consumption practices reveal about the uprooting activities carried out in different locations, the relationships with places of origin and with those who stayed behind?

d) In what degree are migrants’ life-project ideals made tangible through consumer experiences?

e) How is the migrant condition imagined and experienced, and how does material culture contribute to this task?



[1] e.g. golden visas; tax exemptions, free-circulation protocols.

[2] e.g. geographical position, cost of living, existing infrastructures.

[3] e.g. labour market, ageing, urban desertification, social cohesion, citizenship, welfare policies.