Publications

BOOKS

Pick and Shovel: Building the Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 183 (working title). Toronto: Lorimer (forthcoming, Fall 2022) – non-refereed

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

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.

BOOK CHAPTERS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES

Building a Semi-Skilled Immigrant Craft Union: The Labourers’ International Union of North America’s Local 183” (submitted)

Construction craft unions, with their wide geographies, multi-employer bargaining, labour brokerage, and skills training can offer useful lessons for the organization of service sector workers. But the traditional exclusivism of the craft union model is said to have limited applicability in economic sectors where historically marginalized workers predominate. By homogenizing building trades unions, the scarce Canadian scholarship on this topic has missed important differences between them. Construction labourers are particularly interesting to study given their ambiguous condition as low- and semi-skilled workers organized into craft unions, and historically having many “foreign” immigrants within their ranks. In this article I examine the history of the largest construction local in North America, Toronto’s Labourers’ International Union of North America’s Local 183, one of the largest immigrant-dominated unions in the history of the Canadian labour movement. This craft union has successfully used direct action methods in its labour activism, organized multi-ethnic and multi-lingual immigrant workers, engaged in diverse forms of local and transnational community unionism, and expanded across occupations and skill levels. Its expansionism has a semi-skilled union simultaneously brought it closer to the “one sector, one union” principle of industrial unionism and to the typical craft union model of skills brokerage.

“Breaking the News: Portuguese Lusotropicalist Public Relations and Lobbying in the United States, 1961-4” Portuguese Studies Review (accepted, forthcoming)

This article examines the pro-colonialist propaganda and lobbying campaign by the American public relations firm Selvage & Lee on behalf of the Overseas Companies of Portugal and its ties with the Estado Novo during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, the height of decolonization in Africa, and the start of the Portuguese Colonial Wars in Angola, Portuguese Guinea, and Mozambique. It takes a close look at the non-diplomatic activities of these “foreign agents” and their clandestine collusion with Portuguese government officials revealed by a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations investigation, which led to the 1966 amendments to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Besides contributing to the growing historiography on international public relations, this article also 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.

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.

REPORTS

In(diginize) Solidarity: Indigenous Construction Workers in the Greater Toronto Area, Global Labour Research Centre, York University (expected Winter 2022)

This report results from a partnership between the Global Labour Research Centre at York University, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793, and the Toronto Community Benefits Network, created within the framework of the Mitacs Accelerate Program. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations in this report are informed by qualitative and quantitative research, including scholarly literature, published reports, data charts, government legislation and policy, websites, news sources, and research interviews. The two main questions guiding this study are: 1) What barriers exist that need to be removed in order to increase the share of Indigenous workers in Ontario’s and the GTA’s unionized construction workforce? 2) What strategies have been used by the various stakeholders to recruit, train, organize, and retain Indigenous workers, and what can we learn from them?

BLOG POSTS

“On Guard for Canadian Parochialism,” Parts one, two, and three, ActiveHistory.ca, 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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