This Pilgrim Nation: the Making of the Portuguese Diaspora in Postwar North America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019

This book tells the transnational history of Portuguese communities in Canada and the United States against the backdrop of the Cold War, the American Civil Rights movement, the Portuguese Colonial Wars, and Canadian multiculturalism. It considers the ethnic, racial, class, gender, linguistic, regional, and generational permutations of “Portuguese” diaspora from both a transnational and comparative perspective. Besides showing that diasporas and nations can be co-dependent, This Pilgrim Nation counters the common notion that hybrid diasporic identities are largely benign and empowering by revealing how they can perpetuate asymmetrical power relations.


R. Costa, E. da Silva, G. Fernandes, S. Miranda and A. St. Onge, “Archiving from Below: Preserving, Problematizing and Democratizing the Collective Memory of Portuguese Canadians – The Portuguese Canadian History Project,” in Identity Palimpsests: Ethnic Archiving in the United States and Canada, ed. Amalia S. Levi and Dominique Daniel. Sacramento: Litwin Press, 2014

Until recently, the few archival records “representing” Portuguese immigrants in Canadian archives were those produced by governments and reflected a “top-down”, uniform perception of the Portuguese-Canadian experience. This chapter explores the “bottom up” motivations, principles, and work of the Portuguese Canadian History Project (PCHP) in its efforts to facilitate the donation of community records to a public archive and bridging the gap between immigrant and academic communities.

“‘Oh Famous Race!’ Imperial Propaganda and Diasporic Memory in the Portuguese Narrative of North America,”  Public Historian 38: 1 (February 2016): 18-47

This article 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 can be downloaded here.

“Moving the ‘Less Desirable’: Portuguese Mass Migration to Canada, 1953-74″ Canadian Historical Review 96: 3 (September 2015), 339-74

The sovereignty of migration policy makers is never absolute. This has been true for both receiving and sending states. One important check on the receiving nation’s immigration policy implementation was the sending nation’s own sovereignty over its expatriated citizens. These colliding sovereignties sometimes created liminal spaces where migrants and their facilitators were able to subvert regulations by playing them against each other, while other times they were grinded between gatekeepers bent on enforcing their policies. This bilateral dimension is often missing from Canadian immigration history, as is the role of homeland government officials, who brokered and supervised these migrant movements while conciliating the roles of gatekeepers and facilitators. This is especially significant when it involved authoritarian governments, like Portugal’s Estado Novo dictatorship (1933-74). How did Ottawa’s relatively liberal immigration policies correspond with the Estado Novo‘s authoritarian stance on emigration? How did Portuguese officials influence the movement of its emigrants in Canada? How did the migrants react to the concerted top-down arrangements of two imposing governments? This article examines these and other questions in reference to the Portuguese “bulk order” and family sponsorship movements to Canada, between 1953 and 1974. The article can be downloaded here.

“Beyond the ‘Politics of Toil’. Collective Mobilization and Individual Activism in Toronto’s Portuguese Community, 1950s-1990s,” in Urban History Review, 39: 1 (Fall 2010), 59-72

The following article examines the changing political attitudes of Portuguese immigrants in Canada from the arrival of the first cohort in the 1950s to the emergence of the second and third generations in Canadian mainstream society in the 1990s. It explores historical factors that have influenced the political profile of Portuguese Canadians, including its predominantly working-class makeup; its lack of formal education and democratic culture resulting from Portugal’s authoritarian legacy; and its internal factionalism along regional, ideological, generational, and class lines. Fernandes offers a historical critique of sociological models— “socio-economic status” and “socialization”—commonly used for measuring and explaining immigrant political participation, and stresses the importance of diachronic studies in dispelling essentialist assumptions regarding immigrant communities. The author argues that generalist notions of “political participation” and “political constituency” miss important distinctions between representative and direct forms of political action, collective mobilization and individual activism, as well as state level and grassroots politics. He claims that each of these political processes operates according to its own distinct internal dynamics, at times responsive, at other times alienated from one another, which must be analyzed using appropriate scales of observation (macro and micro). The article can be downloaded here.


“On Guard for Canadian Parochialism,” Parts one, two, and three,, September 8, 15, 22, 2015

Since coming into power in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken various steps to redefine Canadian citizenship and reassert its “value” under a territorial, militaristic, loyalist, conformist and Anglocentric interpretation. As numerous commentators have noted, these reforms have unfolded within Harper’s broader campaign to (re)define the meaning of being Canadian along conservative ideals and British traditions. Conservative officials deny the existence of such underlying “agenda,” arguing their reforms simply addressed specific problems in the system, such as massive fraud and application backlogs. Recent citizenship debates in English Canada have dwelt mostly on the question of whether it is a right or a privilege; on issues of legality and process; and on measures of loyalty, attachment or worthiness. But there is more to it. In this three-part series, I will explore the historical narratives and political myths supporting the Conservative government’s parochial views on Canadian citizenship, and how they affect Canada’s and its expats’ place in the world. Part one will focus on the policies; part two on the historians; and part three on Canada’s diasporas.

“Portuguese Politics in the City: Toronto’s invisible cities and political participation,” Living Toronto blog, April 2014

“It is often said that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods, each with its own socioeconomic characteristics, ethnic communities, life cycles and histories. While that may be true, Toronto is also a cluster of “invisible cities”, to use the words of Italo Calvino. Their diverse citizens have developed their own mental maps of the city, which are often juxtaposed yet distant from each other or unable to communicate. In these alternative geographies, Toronto is not just the largest city in Canada, or simply the capital of Ontario, but also a transnational ‘suburb’ of the places where its vast immigrant population comes from.
(…) Toronto is host, and home, to a great many immigrant communities, whose family, cultural, economic, and political realities traverse local and global contexts. Toronto’s streets and squares merge with those of their home towns and cities – alternative geographies ‘invisible’ to those who ignore them. We all live in someone else’s land. To know the citizens of these juxtaposed cities and their transnational realities is to grow our common ground, which is where democracy ultimately happens and Toronto increasingly lives.”

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