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.”
The Toronto-based, Portuguese-language TV channel Correio da Manhã TV – Canadá interviewed me recently about the impact of the Carnations Revolution on the Portuguese in Canada. You can watch it below:
Last September, I started a new research and public history project called City Builders: An Oral History of Immigrant Construction Workers in Postwar Toronto, associated with York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and the Laborers International Union of North America Local 183. This project will record, examine, and divulge the history of Toronto’s immigrant construction workers after the Second World War. It will do so by gathering extensive qualitative information through filmed oral history interviews, by photographing the participants’ personal records and artifacts, and by conducting extensive research in Toronto’s archives. I will be leading a team of researchers (including York students) and filmmakers, who will interview forty retired members of Local 183, focusing on their goals, struggles, achievements, and thoughts on immigration, construction work, labour organization, Toronto, and other topics of significance. With these materials, we will produce forty short videos and one 15-minute documentary that will be featured in a multimedia exhibition. The exhibit’s launch and the screening of the documentary will coincide with the 2018 Avie Bennett Conference at York University, taking place on September 2018. All of the materials gathered and produced by this project will be donated to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University Libraries, once the project is completed.
You can read the article that York University’s YFile newsletter published about it here. And find more information about the project in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies website here.
There has been over eighty riots throughout the history of Toronto, some of them quite large. This seemingly high number contradicts the idea of a peaceful and even dull “Toronto the Good,” and of Canada as a land of peace, order, and good governance, where differences have been negotiated through compromise, unlike our southern neighbours. Race, religion, political views, labour relations, social inequality, youth rebelliousness, have been the most common factors triggering these relatively short outburst of violence. In all of them, Toronto’s police forces have played a central role, as law and order enforcers, as violence instigators, or as passive bystanders. Toronto’s riot history is an important thread for weaving the story of its police forces, political rulers, inter-ethnic/racial relations, religious communities, and other significant historical agents.
In 2016-17, HIST4530 students wrote about various riots in Toronto’s past, drawing from primary (i.e. newspapers and maps) and secondary source materials. The assignment asked for them to write for a public history audience, which required them to write clearly and succinctly, and summarize complex ideas into simplified yet nuanced short texts. I have since edited and built on the students’ work, and created a digital map and timeline using Omeka/ Neatline, called Toronto the Bad: A Riots Map and Timeline.
This assignment will be repeated in 2017-18. The incoming HIST4530 students’ work will feed into this digital resource, which remains a work in progress. This work is also featured in Myseum of Toronto‘s mobile application.
I am also currently working on an article about Toronto’s riot history.
For the 64th anniversary of the arrival of the first group of Portuguese “bulk order” migrant workers on Pier 21, in Halifax, I have created a digital map with the current location of and statistics about the largest Portuguese immigrant, ethnic, and speaking communities in Canada. You can find it here.
My latest article came out in the University of California Press’ and National Council on Public History’s journal The Public Historian, 18: 1 (February 2016): 18-47.
It examines the transnational and international politics and motivations behind the Eurocentric campaigns of Portuguese American heritage advocates to memorialize the sixteenth-century navigators Miguel Corte-Real and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo as the ‘‘discoverers’’ of the United States’ Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and how those campaigns were framed by the advocates’ ‘‘ancestral’’ homeland’s imperialist propaganda. It argues that the study of public memory and heritage politics can offer valuable insights into the processes of diaspora building and helps reveal the asymmetrical power relations often missing in discussions about cultural hybridity.
The article also explores the intersection of local, national, and transnational politics in ethnic heritage campaigns; their racial and gendered dimensions; how they conflated the contradictory yet mutually empowering interests of Portuguese immigrants, North American politicians, and Estado Novo officials; how they advanced Portugal’s imperialist foreign policy agenda; and how they further marginalized the colonized indigenous peoples of North America.