Places and belongings: Circular conjugalities between Angola and Portugal

Places and belongings: Circular conjugalities between Angola and Portugal

Based on empirical evidence substantiating a recent upturn in migration flows from Portugal to Angola which is twice that going in the other direction, this project examines the belief that labor-driven migration is a phenomenon that runs from developing to developed countries.  In fact, we challenge the use and utility of sociological categories connected to the nation-state, and provide support for the alternative, transnational approach, considering it to be more appropriate for understanding the changes imposed on conjugal/partner relationships and lives of the migrants.

In the context of contemporary studies of families and transnational lives, we study the emergence of new forms of conjugality among heterosexual couples living apart (one in Portugal, the other in Angola). Considering the importance of gender stratification when the domestic space is transnational rather than shared, we seek to understand how the construction of masculinity is reformulated in the couple when the man migrates to the other country to find work.  The data gathered capture the repercussions of mobility on conjugality as well as the self-perception and representations of those involved of the domestic space - here understood in its physical, affective, and social dimensions.

When a conjugal pair separates as a result of the migration of one person, fluid forms of conjugality arise, demanding realignment of gender roles. As few studies have addressed masculinity and migrations between Angola and Portugal, this project fills a gap in the investigation into historic, identity, and symbolic relationships, which since the 16th century have characterized the migrations between these two countries.

The "circular" forms of conjugality that are emerging today can also be studied from the point of view of Post-colonialism Theory - seen in the continuities and ruptures in Portugal's colonial imagination, the gender-role building, and the migrations between the two countries.

All of these issues are closely linked to reconstructions of the sense of "home" in the minds of those involved.  "Feeling at home" can be construed at several levels:  domestic, neighborhood, city, and even country.  Besides habitation, which is the first "home sphere" - the most intimate and private, where one actually lives with one's partner - "feeling at home" is something constructed through daily practices in one's city, through the knowledge of and sense of belonging to the urban space, through the building of social networks, and through one's feeling of identification with other groups that exist in the city.  It is important to understand how, in the midst of so many "homes", this new space is constructed:  how and in what ways migrants' habitations become a true home - a space imbued with symbolic value. 

Studies regarding the connection between "home" and migrations mostly address the relationship of the migrant to the "home" of origin .  We seek to investigate the process of (re)constructing the "home" in both city of origin and city of destination of the male migrant, as well as the repercussions on the conjugal relationship of the couple, of its representations, and experiences.

Regarding the theoretical challenges mentioned above, the methodology employed, too, will be novel.  Based on the Simultaneous Matched Samples method, both quantitative and qualitative features will be used - using two questionnaires (for Portugal and Angola), and 30 detailed interviews in those countries, respectively.  Selection of the countries of origin draws upon the expertise of the principal investigator and other members of the research team.  Earlier research on transnationalism and migrations from African regions point to gender differences affecting migration in the source societies.  The principal investigator and other team members have, in earlier projects, applied theoretical considerations to the issues of migration, cities, multicultural settings, and gender relations in Portuguese-speaking contexts, with specific focus on history, identity, culture, and development.

 

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Rede: 
TLM&G (Transnational Lives, Mobility and Gender) network
Keywords: 

Transnationalism, Angola, Portugal, Conjugality, Gender-male

Based on empirical evidence substantiating a recent upturn in migration flows from Portugal to Angola which is twice that going in the other direction, this project examines the belief that labor-driven migration is a phenomenon that runs from developing to developed countries.  In fact, we challenge the use and utility of sociological categories connected to the nation-state, and provide support for the alternative, transnational approach, considering it to be more appropriate for understanding the changes imposed on conjugal/partner relationships and lives of the migrants.

In the context of contemporary studies of families and transnational lives, we study the emergence of new forms of conjugality among heterosexual couples living apart (one in Portugal, the other in Angola). Considering the importance of gender stratification when the domestic space is transnational rather than shared, we seek to understand how the construction of masculinity is reformulated in the couple when the man migrates to the other country to find work.  The data gathered capture the repercussions of mobility on conjugality as well as the self-perception and representations of those involved of the domestic space - here understood in its physical, affective, and social dimensions.

When a conjugal pair separates as a result of the migration of one person, fluid forms of conjugality arise, demanding realignment of gender roles. As few studies have addressed masculinity and migrations between Angola and Portugal, this project fills a gap in the investigation into historic, identity, and symbolic relationships, which since the 16th century have characterized the migrations between these two countries.

The "circular" forms of conjugality that are emerging today can also be studied from the point of view of Post-colonialism Theory - seen in the continuities and ruptures in Portugal's colonial imagination, the gender-role building, and the migrations between the two countries.

All of these issues are closely linked to reconstructions of the sense of "home" in the minds of those involved.  "Feeling at home" can be construed at several levels:  domestic, neighborhood, city, and even country.  Besides habitation, which is the first "home sphere" - the most intimate and private, where one actually lives with one's partner - "feeling at home" is something constructed through daily practices in one's city, through the knowledge of and sense of belonging to the urban space, through the building of social networks, and through one's feeling of identification with other groups that exist in the city.  It is important to understand how, in the midst of so many "homes", this new space is constructed:  how and in what ways migrants' habitations become a true home - a space imbued with symbolic value. 

Studies regarding the connection between "home" and migrations mostly address the relationship of the migrant to the "home" of origin .  We seek to investigate the process of (re)constructing the "home" in both city of origin and city of destination of the male migrant, as well as the repercussions on the conjugal relationship of the couple, of its representations, and experiences.

Regarding the theoretical challenges mentioned above, the methodology employed, too, will be novel.  Based on the Simultaneous Matched Samples method, both quantitative and qualitative features will be used - using two questionnaires (for Portugal and Angola), and 30 detailed interviews in those countries, respectively.  Selection of the countries of origin draws upon the expertise of the principal investigator and other members of the research team.  Earlier research on transnationalism and migrations from African regions point to gender differences affecting migration in the source societies.  The principal investigator and other team members have, in earlier projects, applied theoretical considerations to the issues of migration, cities, multicultural settings, and gender relations in Portuguese-speaking contexts, with specific focus on history, identity, culture, and development.

 

 

Objectivos: 
Considering the methodological options as a strategy for the conceptual development of an emerging research area, the objective of this project is also to bring together several, empirically structured, perspectives with the contributions of researchers from different scientific areas with the aim of creating a dialogue with postcolonial and African studies in these areas.
State of the art: 
Since the 1990s studies of transnationalism have addressed the lives of migrants with regard to either their country of origin or country of destination, focusing on changes to the individual and/or his/her family in the medium term. Other targets of research have been institutions (Lubkemann 2008), paths to development (Grassi 2009), and redefinition of feelings of belonging to the multiple 'homes', not only from the geographic point of view, but also the spiritual (Levy 2002) and cultural (Appadurai 2006). The transnational lives of migratory individuals demand constant reformulation of the sense of belonging as a function of the places where persons live, work, and organize their own reproduction. In addition, studies of changes in conjugality have targeted issues of gender and the vulnerability of women in relation to men.  Emerging research on masculinity refers most often to western-world settings.In Portuguese African studies, gender approach has been mostly focused in women with some interesting exceptions (Arnfred 2005). Men's studies on African countries reflect mostly power questions focusing black men with a concern on politics (Marriott 2000). As it has been stressed in the summary, this project seeks to show how the constructions of masculinity are fluid and changing and have to be renegotiated and redefined in transnational conjugal relationships. The migratory process is not neutral but highly 'gendered' and this statement further means that gender constitutes a core organizational principle for social relations. The first consistent analysis of gender appeared in the literature on migration in the Sylvia Chant and Sarah Radcliffe 1992 book introduction. The majority of studies on migrations and development seem to reflect the conceptual point of view that attributes women the status of subject following male patterns of behavior (Carlings 2005). Engendering development processes require more than a focus on women. Correspondingly, when men decide to emigrate alone rarely depart without first gaining the consent of the conjugal partner that they leave behind. In their memories and wishes, such feelings remain present - to a greater or lesser extent depending on the reproductive role that the respective culture attributes to women and men - in concerns with the life plans for the person behind. PALOP countries are specific in terms of gender role organization in the family and in society as the team members has shown in previous works (Grassi 2003, Grassi 2007, Vivet 2010) and this constitutes a crucial theoretical baggage in his research on transnational lives and conjugality between Angola and Portugal (Bryceson & Vuorela 2002). In African studies, patriarchalizing interpretations of African societies are the most present and normally gender power relations are taken for granted. At the same time hierarchies of age (seniority; relational) are, many times referred as more important than hierarchies of gender. Besides, when the focus is on marriage :'The woman of feminist theory is a wife' (Oyewumi 2001). At the same time, as this author stress, the Hierarchies of insiders / outsiders to given lineage are also many times more important than hierarchies of gender (Arnfred 2005). In transnational approach, male studies between Angola and Portugal Europe lack of research into constructions of masculinity. Masculinity norms differ according to the contexts as well as within each context, depending on negotiations about those definitions between individuals or groups (Amadiume 1987). It is interesting to look at the changes inside the conjugal relationship to understand how the construction process of masculinity is renegotiated between man and woman in a context of transnational migration and how the social reproduction "in motion"  (Koser 2003, Korac 2009) works in the context in analysis. Critical studies of men  (Kimmel 2005) stress that  it is impossible to fully understand masculinity without considering its connection with family change and women's change, and place men and masculinities within the realm of family life, examining men's practices and discourses in their relationships with women and their changing femininities.(Aboim 2010). This is what the project intend to analyze in the context of a male migration inside a couple. Recent case studies have generated an interesting body of literature on the structural factors, both family and individual, in this process (Kofman 2000) The PI of the project has approached the question of movement and gender in her master and doctoral research on female entrepreneurs from Angola e Cape Verde around the world (Grassi 1997). The research shows the importance of familiar dynamics and gender roles in the understanding of social dynamic in transnational contexts. The importance and the growing of economical migrations show the emergence of important changes in the organization of family relationships, lives of individuals and gender roles in a transnational theoretical point of view (Baby-Collin et al. 2009, Dureau 2009). To capture this complexity in motion the methodological option of this project rely on the understanding that an adaptation of the methodological tools is crucial considering the theoretical gap in Portuguese academic world in such research area (Mazzucato 2008).
Parceria: 
International networ
Tatiana Matos de Jesus Ferreira
Luena Marinho
Jeanne Vivet
Ana Raquel Cruz
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/03/2012
End Date: 
28/02/2015
Duração: 
36 meses
Closed