IUOE Local 793’s Heritage Plaque unveiled

I had the honour of submitting the application for a Heritage Toronto plaque commemorating the history of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, which was unveilled on November 4. The plaque is located on the Southeast intersection of Church and Shuter streets, where the Elliot House Hotel was once located and eleven steam shovel operators founded Local 793. This plaque is one of the outputs of the Laborem Ex Machina public history project that I am leading at York University.

Video by Danny Celia, IUOE Local 793.

Collaboration with Vhils in mural honoring Cleaners’ Action

The internationally renowned street artist Vhils (Alexandre Farto) has created a mural in the Toronto neighbourhood of Little Portugal – on 1628 Dundas St. West (just west of Brock Ave.) – honouring the Portuguese “cleaning ladies” and their Cleaners’ Action movement in the 1970s-80s. The Embassy of Portugal in Canada, the Little Portugal BIA, and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão were the organizers of this initiative. In July, I was consulted by one of the organizers seeking suggestions about significant women in the history of Toronto’s Portuguese community to be featured in the mural, to which I suggested the “cleaning ladies” and their Cleaners’ Action. After my suggestion was approved, I had the honour of collaborating with Vhils’ team, Anabela Taborda (Little Portugal BIA), and Dr. Susana Miranda (Portuguese Canadian History Project) in the making of this project, by contributing archival materials, historical insights by way of a recorded interview, and connecting stakeholders. The unveiling took place on October 19 and was attended by a sizable audience of local community members, political representatives, and labour leaders. A short video documentary about the making of the mural is soon to follow.

To learn more about the history of Cleaners’ Action, follow the links below:

Dr. Susana Miranda, “Keeping the City Clean: Portuguese Women in Toronto’s Cleaning Industry, 1970-1990” podcast, Active History, October 21 2010:…/history-matters-podcast…/

Dr. Franca Iacovetta interviews Marcie Ponte and Sidney Pratt, “Portuguese Workers/Birth of Cleaners’ Action 1975,” Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Feminist Action:…/portuguese-workers…/

Webinar at the Center for Portuguese Studies, UMass Dartmouth

The Center for Portuguese Studies | Tagus Press, and the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Achives at UMass Dartmouth invited me to deliver a webinar on June 10. My lecture will be titled “Breaking the News: Portuguese Lusotropicalist Public Relations and Lobbying in the United States, 1961-4,” and will count with the special participation of Prof. Glória de Sá. Here is the abstract:

“Dr. Fernandes’ presentation will examine an important episode in the history of “fake news” in American mainstream media related to the Estado Novo’s pro-colonialist propaganda and lobbying campaign in the United States during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. It will discuss the operations of the New York-based public relations firm Selvage & Lee and the non-diplomatic activities of Portuguese-American “foreign agents,” as revealed by a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations investigation that led to the 1966 amendments to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Dr. Fernandes’ lecture introduces an Anglophone dimension to the study of lusotropicalism outside of the “Lusophone world,” by exploring some of the channels through which its pro-miscegenation ideas were disseminated among American conservatives, including right-wing African-American intellectuals.”

If you are interested, please register here:

Gaspar Corte-Real statue controversy

In the past few weeks I have been asked by various media outlets in Canada and Portugal to weigh in on the topic of statue toppling in what pertains to the monument to Gaspar Corte-Real outside the Confederation Building in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Here are the resulting newspaper articles, television and radio pieces:

Andrew Hawthorn, “How a controversial St. John’s statue was actually propaganda for a Portuguese dictatorship,”, June 14, 2020

Maria João Caetano, “Entre a aventura marítima e a pesca do bacalhau: esta é a história da estátua de Corte-Real,” Diário de Notícias, June 16, 2020

Interview for “Câmara dos Representantes,” RDP radio, June 29, 2020

Interview for “Focus Portuguese,” OMNI TV, July 13, 2020

Thank you!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came out to my book launch. I am honoured and delighted that I got to share this milestone with so many old and new friends. I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on the book. Here are some photos taken by Gilberto Prioste. A couple of his photos are featured in the book.