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Dulce Maria Scott Anderson University & Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC.

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Presentation on theme: "Dulce Maria Scott Anderson University & Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dulce Maria Scott Anderson University & Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC

2 The capacity of diaspora communities to engage in socioeconomic and political action beneficial to the ethnic group and the ancestral society is positively related to the level of educational, socioeconomic and political integration into the host society that individuals of those communities have achieved. Yet, higher levels of integration may lead to increasingly diluted ethnic communities and identities, and thus to low levels of identification and loyalty to the ancestral country. This trend is perhaps even more pronounced in situations, such as the case of Portuguese migration to North America, where the level of immigration has declined sharply and the immigrant generation is increasingly being replaced by its host country born descendants. Introduction

3 Immigration timeline from Portugal to the United States

4 In this paper, I argue that given their substantial level of integration into the American societies and their concurrent significant level of interest in their heritage, many Luso-descendants in North America are at an optimal stage to be mobilized to engage in concerted socioeconomic and political action on their own behalf and on behalf of Portugal. Introduction

5 The data utilized in this paper are derived from An online survey of descendants of Portuguese immigrants in the United States, Personal interviews in California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. American Community Survey data. The online survey included 330 respondents from Canada (see Table 1) but in this presentation I utilize only the data from the 1201 respondents from the United States Data sources

6 One and a half SecondThirdFourthTotal Canada % % % 1 0.3% % United States % % % % % Total % % % % % Respondents by generation and country of residence while growing up Note: The online survey was not based on a probability sample (a type of sample nearly impossible to draw) of the entire population of Luso- descendants in North America. As such the research findings are applicable only to those who have participated in the study.

7 Berry (9-10) posited four possible categories of acculturation for immigrants and their descendants: (1) assimilation, which involves identification with the host culture; (2) separation or identification only with the original culture; (3) integration or a high level of identification with both, the ancestral and the host cultures; and (4) marginalization or a low identification with both. Processes of identity formation: the sociological theory

8 The recent sociological literatureon the second generation and segmented assimilationties the varying integration and acculturation outcomes to: the context of reception (negative, neutral or positive) immigrants and their descendants encounter in the host country and the type of acculturation (consonant or dissonant, and selective) upon which they embark. Segmented assimilation theory and integration and acculturation outcomes

9 Negative or hostile contexts of reception, in which the immigrant group is met with prejudice and discrimination in the host society, may lead to quick straight-line acculturation and assimilation and thinning of the ethnic identity (cf. Altschul et al.). As stated by (Portes and Rumbaut 151): People whose ethnic, racial, or other social markers place them in a minority status in their group or community are more likely to be self-conscious of those characteristics. Youths may cope with the psychological pressure produced by such differences by seeking to reduce conflict and to assimilate within the relevant social contextthe modal response of the children of European immigrants in the American experience. Negative reception may lead to straight line acculturation

10 Yet, in situations where ethnicity has been politicized, or taken the form of identity politics, a negative context of reception may lead, in a reactive formation process, to a thickening of the ethnic identity, that is, to a rise and reaffirmation of ethnic solidarity and self-consciousness (Portes and Rumbaut 151-2), with a corresponding decline in their connection to mainstream institutions and norms… (Altschul et al. 304). This process may be associated with engagement in militant identity politics. Some young Luso-descendants want to assume their identity precisely for this purpose, that of engaging in identity politics, in the same manner that members of some minority groups do in America. Or it may lead to identity politics and rejection of the host culture

11 Early 20th century Portuguese immigrants faced a negative context of reception, which generally led them to abandon the ancestral culture and become assimilated as quickly as possible. Overtime, however, the Portuguese have attained higher levels of acceptance among other ethnic groups in the American societies, and thus there are no longer socioeconomic and psychological costs associated with openly assuming a Portuguese ethnicity. Table 2 shows how those who took the online survey responded to the indicators measuring the context of reception. The results show that most of the respondents did not grow up in a negative context of reception, and as such they are freer to express their ethnicity and identify with the ancestral country than were the children of the turn of the twentieth century immigrants. Given that the current context of reception is not negative, Luso- descendants are not likely to engage in identity politics. Context of reception

12 My grandfather built a house in Taunton, but it was in an Irish neighborhood, and the Irish would not accept him and the family. They had a very difficult time… They would keep their shutters closed because the Irish would throw things for them to get out of the neighborhood… My grandfather used to say: You Irish, you lost your flag because of whiskey! Somehow in Ireland they had given whiskey to the soldiers and they lost the batt le (Interview with a female whose grandfather arrived in the United States in 1903). Early 20th century Portuguese immigrants faced a negative context of reception--most pursued assimilation as the solution Back in those days we were considered lower than second class. We were at the bottom of the pit… We were seen as not being smart enough to hold certain jobs, like lace weaver. They [Irish, Italians, Polish and Canadians] called us black Portugee and dirty Portugee because we would go and get the swill from the neighbors to feed the pigs. The Irish and the French would say, Portuguese lala [feasts] and shit in the parlor. Irish boys would be waiting for us…The Irish and French boys broke my nose! (Interview with an octogenarian whose grandparents arrived in America in 1893, settling in West Warrick).

13 I was growing up in my pre-teen and teens years during WWII, and obviously loyalty to America was very, very strong, and although my grandparents and great-aunts would say, you should be proud that you´re Portuguese, that was secondary to feeling that I was really American. And particularly with the little that I heard about Portugal being fascist and neutral during the Second World War, and Salazar, I did not walk down the streets saying, WOW! I am Portuguese. Today the recognition and acceptance of multiculturalism in certain parts of the United States is such that you can have those interests and you can voice those interests without being uncomfortable. In my parent´s generation, there was much more this feeling that you had to hide your ethnicity and culture. Some of my dad´s older sisters did as much as they could not to identify with the Portuguese culture. (Interview with a septuagenarian in California whose grandfather arrived in the United States in the late 19 th century).

14 Strongly Disagree DisagreeUndecidedAgree Strongly Agree When I was growing up I felt accepted by other Americans who were not Portuguese When I was growing up I felt embarrassed about the Portuguese customs of my immigrant parents/ancestors When I was growing up I felt that people discriminated against me because I was from a Portuguese background When I was growing up I felt there was a lot of prejudice against Portuguese Americans When I was growing up I felt negative feelings about myself because of prejudice against Portuguese Americans When I was growing up I rejected Portuguese culture so that I could fit in with other Americans Context of reception indicators

15 Dissonant acculturation occurs when children acculturate but parents do not.* The children navigate the institutions of the new society without the benefit of parental guidance, with the child often assuming adult roles. Type of acculturation * In this paper, I do not utilizes, as other scholars have done, language use and skills of children as compared to those of parents to measure dissonant acculturation. But as Portes and Rumbaut (144) affirm: Losing one´s language is also losing part of one´s self that is linked to one´s identity and cultural heritage. When children move decisively in this direction while parents remain steeped in their own language and culture, the conditions for dissonant acculturation are set. Communication across the generations becomes more difficult, and the resultant gap reduces parental authority and control.

16 This role reversal is illustrated by comments made by a one and a half generation female, who arrived in the United States in 1962, when she was seven years old: My father wanted me to go to college close to home… But I had to leave my family so I could find my own identity, find my own way, because at home I was the interpreter, everything fell to me… Since I was seven, I felt very mature for my age, and so I felt it was time for me to distance myself from my family and really experience the world through my own eyes. Dissonant acculturation

17 Strongly Disagree DisagreeUndecidedAgree Strongly Agree When I was growing up I often entered into conflict with my parents because they did not approve of behaviors that were standard for other Americans who were not Portuguese When I was growing up I thought Portuguese customs were old fashioned compared those of American culture When I was growing up I often had to serve as translator for my parents When I was growing up I was able to talk to my mother and/or father about personal issues such as dating or a party I went out to, a personal problem I was having, etc When I was growing up I was able to talk to my mother and/or father about school work or grades or other things I was doing in school When I was growing up my parents participated in my school life (talked to my teachers, attended sporting events, etc.) Consonant & dissonant acculturation indicators

18 The results, presented in table 3, show that a significant percentage of Luso-descendants experienced dissonant acculturation, and crosstab analysis of the indicators showed that this type of acculturation was indeed more prevalent among people of the one and a half and second generations. Undoubtedly dissonant acculturation may have reduced the pace at which some of the one and a half and second generation descendants of Portuguese immigrants, who had to manage the academic and other institutions of the host society without much parental guidance, advanced educationally and economically in American society. It may also have led some of them to reject the culture of their parents. Dissonant acculturation, given the decline in immigration from Portugal, is not likely to be a determining factor on the path of integration of future generations of Luso-descendants and is thus not likely to affect their ties to the ancestral country.

19 In positive or neutral contexts of reception, together with consonant acculturation of parents and children, selective acculturation (purposeful retention of aspects of the ancestral culture) is likely to occur. Selective acculturation seems to be taking place among young people of todays one and half and second generations. All of the young people (under 30 years of age) whom I interviewed, for the purposes of this study, stated that they were proud of their Portuguese ancestry and also of being American. Selective acculturation and symbolic ethnicity

20 Segmented assimilation theory has focused almost exclusively on the experience of the children of immigrants. For an interpretation of the processes of identity formation and acculturation beyond the second generation, and particularly of the descendants of the immigrants from the turn to the twentieth century, I draw on historian Marcus Lee Hansens principle of the third generation interest and Herbert Gans concept of symbolic ethnicity The third and fourth generations and symbolic ethnicity

21 Marcus Hansen´s principle of the third generation interest, states that, what the son wishes to forget the grandson wishes to remember (Hansen 9). The third generation, already well-integrated and accepted into American society, according to Hansen (cited in Gans 4) could afford to remember an ancestral culture, which the traumatic Americanization forced on the immigrant and second generations impelled them to forget. Gans (1), however, argued that what appeared to be an ethnic revival, was nothing more than a stage in the acculturation of American ethnic groups centred around the consumption of ethnic symbols.

22 The return to ethnicity is illustrated by the following excerpt from an interview with a third generation female, who resides in Rhode Island: I am the granddaughter of immigrants from Saint Michael. All of my four grandparents were born there, in Vila Franca, Rabo de Peixe e Ribeira das Tainhas… I grew up in a very ethnically diverse community and I always knew that we were Portuguese. For sure, back then we were encouraged to be American, to speak English, and to get ahead. I truly only fell in love with being Portuguese ten years ago, when I decided that I would finally learn Portuguese at Rhode Island College. Since then, I have visited the Azores five times…». Third and fourth generation return to ethnicity

23 Other scholars, who adopted Gans concept of symbolic ethnicity, noted that it encompassed a broad range of phenomena, including: a label that people recalled when filling out census or employment forms, occasional consumption of ethnic foods and attendance at ethnic festivals, expressions of ones individuality, and varying levels of involvement in the social and organizational activities of ethnic communities (cf. Alba and Waters). None of these forms of ethnic expression conflict with other identities and can be a permanent part of one's identity (Sanders 349). In other words, being American does not conflict with being Portuguese.

24 The variability of phenomena that may be covered by symbolic ethnicity is illustrated by a third generation Portuguese American in California, who, of fifteen grandchildren of early 20th century immigrants, is the only one who speaks Portuguese and the only one who is highly involved in Portuguese American organizations and social activities. As he said: My siblings are all American. My brother got a Master´s degree … works with the Latino community and speaks Spanish fluently. No Portuguese at all. Is he involved in the Portuguese culture? No. … Maybe once a year, he may go to a festa and eat sopas, and he buys linguiça once in a while, and that´s the extent of it… If you ask him today, I think he may say he is Portuguese-American, even though he does not get involved with the Portuguese culture…

25 Strongly disagree Disagree Undecide d Agree Strongly Agree I am proud of my Portuguese heritage I am proud of being an American People of Portuguese ancestry should do everything possible to maintain their ethnic culture in America America is a good place in which to live Strongly disagree Disagree I like both equally Agree Strongly Agree Currently I prefer American culture to Portuguese culture Selective acculturation, symbolic ethnicity and a dual identity

26 As displayed in table 5, Luso-descendants show a high level of appreciation for both the American and the Portuguese cultures. These results lend support to the assumption that selective acculturation has been taking place among the younger generations and that there has been a surge of interest in their ethnicity among the long-ago integrated descendants of the turn of the 20th century immigrants. These levels of biculturalism bode well for the emergence of a tight connection between Luso-descendants and Portugal.

27 Self-label identity IdentityNumberPercent Portuguese Portuguese American American Total Respondents identity self-definition Identity self-label by generation

28 The hyphenated identity, for many of those whom I interviewed, is more than a label. It is the designation that expresses who they feel themselves to be.

29 A third generation Portuguese American in California stated the following: When I fill out the census form, it always aggravates me… We have to classify ourselves as Caucasian. But are we Caucasian? So I never put that. … I always put other, because that´s what I feel I am. My daughter is the same way. I always tell her: you are not white; you are Portuguese, you´re Portuguese-American.

30 And as explained by a fourth generation female in California: I definitely identify myself as Portuguese American because when I think of an American heritage or an identity to me that means that your ancestors were here hundreds of years ago, that you like bluegrass, that you have relatives in North Carolina… I really dont identify with the tried and true apple pie, fried chicken, and hotdogs, you know the Americana… I much rather have papo secos and linguiça and as many Portuguese fat foods as I can. I feel no divided loyalties between being American and being Portuguese. I feel very lucky that we´re here. That´s the beauty of being here, that you are allowed to celebrate your heritage…I can walk down the street and fly my Portuguese flag and no one can say anything to me…

31 Strongly disagree DisagreeUndecidedAgree Strongly Agree Currently I see myself as having more in common with regular Americans than with other Portuguese individuals In-group v. out-group identification Logistic binary regression (table not included in this paper due to space considerations) showed that those who have an in-group identification are more likely to have experienced a somewhat more negative context of reception, to be significantly less acculturated into American culture, and to be more inserted into the ethnic communities. Those who speak both Portuguese and English at home and who self-define as Portuguese are also somewhat more likely to have an in-group identification. Surprisingly, this variable was not significantly correlated to generation.

32 The data presented in this section show that the Luso-descendants who participated in this study for the most part identify to some extent as Portuguese. The persistence of an ethnic identity among Luso- descendants will contribute to the maintenance of close ties with Portugal for years to come.

33 Total Population High school graduate or higher Bachelor´s degree or higher United States 307,006, %27.9% Portuguese ancestry (foreign born and American born) 1,477, %22.6% Portuguese (foreign born only) 203, %9.5% Structural integration: Education Educational attainment of Portuguese-Americans (ancestral group) Source: 2009 American Community Survey Although people of Portuguese descent in the United States in the aggregate are still below the national averages in terms of educational achievement, the data presented above show a considerable progress in educational attainment from the immigrant generation to the generations born in the United States.

34 RespondentMotherFather Level of educationFrequency Percent Frequency Percent Frequency Percent Less than high school graduate High school graduate Some college or technical school / Graduate of a two year school or technical school Graduate of a four year college or university Some graduate school but no graduate degree Graduate school degree Missing values Totals Online Survey: Level of education of the respondents, their mother and their father

35 RespondentMotherFather Generation High school graduate or higher Bachelor´s degree or higher High school graduate or higher Bachelor´s degree or higher High school graduate or higher Bachelor´s degree or higher One and a half % % % % 9 2.7% Second % % % % % % Third % % % % % % Fourth and beyond % % % % % % Online survey data

36 INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS (IN 2009 INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS) United StatesPortuguese-Americans Income level Median household income (dollars)50,22157,985 Median family income (dollars)61,08269,161 Mean for those with earnings69,91874,848 HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE United StatesPortuguese-Americans Percent with coverage With private health insurance coverage67.40%73.50% With public health coverage28.50%25.40% No health insurance coverage15.10%11.50% POVERTY RATES FOR FAMILIES AND PEOPLE United StatesPortuguese-Americans Percent living in poverty All families10.50%7.40% All people14.30%9.40% Median income, health insurance and poverty rates of Portuguese Americans in comparison with United States rates. Source: 2009 American Community Survey 1/Year Estimates

37 Level of household income compared to parents income NumberPercent 1. Far lower Lower About the same Higher Far higher Total Respondents household income compared with parents income *Excludes respondents who were under 23 years of age

38 Income levelNumberPercent under $20, $20, , $40, , $75, , $100,000 - $199, $200,000 or higher696.1 Missing values665.9 Total Respondents annual household income * Respondents under 23 were excluded from this table

39 RespondentFatherMother Occupation Number Percent Occupation Number Percent Occupation Number Percent Office employee / clerical Factory worker Factory worker Professional (doctor, lawyer, engineer, university professor, scientist, etc.) Laborer in construction Homemaker Education (teacher, counselor, administrator, etc.) Farmer / dairy / farm related work Cleaning services (homes or offices) Government employee/political administration Had his own business Office employee / clerical Social work/human services/health services Crafts/ trades Social work/ human services/ health services Online survey: Top five occupations held by the respondents, their fathers and their mothers

40 Overall, the respondents who took this online survey have achieved high levels of structural integration in American society, despite the fact that their parents generally possessed low levels of education, remained concentrated in blue collar occupations, and tended to stay concentrated in specific geographical areas.

41 FrequencyPercent Zero times One time Two to three times Four to nine times Ten or more times Missing values90.7 Total Number of visits to Portugal Number of visits to Portugal by generation

42 According to data about the purpose of visits to Portugal, traditional motives prevail: go on vacations, visit family members and participate in family events, and attend religious feasts. There is already a significant number that travel to Portugal for economic and academic purposes, but an increase in interchanges of this nature would be beneficial for both sides.

43 FrequencyPercent Go on vacations Visit relatives / attend family events Participate in religious holidays or events Live there temporarily748.3 Engage in business activities667.4 Attend academic and cultural (present papers, attend the university there, cultural events) Participate in youth meetings / events131.5 Conduct genealogy research/see where ancestors came from/find relatives Go on my honeymoon40.5 Establish political/sister city20.2 Purposes of visits to Portugal

44 NumberPercent Yes No Missing values Total Sending money Only 33 percent of those who were able to answer this question have sent money to Portugal. An examination of the reasons as to why they sent money shows that the sending of money was limited to traditional reasons, such as sending money to relatives and for charity, including disaster relief

45 In addition to identity, history, and family ties, the maintenance of an attachment to the country of origin also provides opportunities for economic, political, cultural and scientific exchanges beneficial to both the diaspora communities and the ancestral country. The online and American Community Survey data presented in this intervention demonstrates that Luso- descendants are well integrated into American society and are therefore capable of engaging in relations and exchanges with the ancestral country that go beyond those that have been traditionally assumed by the immigrant generation. Conclusion

46 The data collected through the on-line survey and personal interviews conducted in California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island demonstrated that Luso-descendants are engaging in a process of selective acculturation or adopting a symbolic identity, which is associated with the ethnic communities in the United States and Portugal. Therefore, Luso-descendants are at an optimal stage on the continuums of integration and ethnic identifications to be mobilized to engage in concerted socioeconomic and political action on their own behalf and on behalf of Portugal. Conclusion

47 While Portugal should continue to be a place where Luso-descendants go to visit to discover their roots and matrices, and who they really are, it is time now for the interactions with the diaspora to become more frequent, more multifaceted, and more diversified, encompassing an increasing number of economic, political, cultural, academic and scientific interchanges across the Atlantic. Conclusion


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