Last thursday, on 12th of March 2015, we presented the preliminary outcomes of the research at the project’s final conference. In Rio de Janeiro, the fieldwork took place from December 2013 until May 2014, and involved a group of five portuguese families. The families have moved from Lisbon into the city between 2010 and 2013. The families’ experiences and narratives were explored through the discussion of their past and current homes, their material culture and domestic practices between “here” and “there”. Nevertheless, every house, every family and individual, as well as their life projects, present differences and particularities. Ence, the five households were constituted by: a) a single woman; b) a single woman who lives with two flatmates; c) a nuclear family – parents with three children; d) a young couple; e) a young couple expecting their first child. All families can be perceived as middle class to upper-middle class in Portugal and have got a medium-high cultural capital (higher education, mostly master’s degree or PhD), and work mainly in the fields of technology, arts and sciences (academy).
It is important to refer that many of these immigrants had previous experiences abroad, either doing exchange programs, professional internships or even full education, especially in Europe (Italy, France, Netherlands, UK, Sweden) but also in the EUA and Japan. Furthermore, many of them already have visited Rio de Janeiro, as well as other parts of Brazil due to exchange programs, tourism and previous professional experiences. Having previous migratory experiences seems to be important and influences the way that individuals see themselves, as well as their migration project: movement, in a broad sense, is understood as a natural and expected path of their lives. Several arguments were mentioned has leitmotifs to migrate, mostly related with the desire of acquiring international experience, both in their professional and personal areas, by doing what they always imagined and idealized for their lives. Moreover, the idea of “prevention” given the context of crisis in Portugal, is also very present in their discourses. The relationship with the movement is often valued as cultural capital and, despite the centrality of work, its articulation with personal fulfillment seems to be present and have directly influenced the specific choice of Rio de Janeiro as destination – a place very present in their imaginaries as a wonderful, young, exotic and seductive place that provides an unique lifestyle in the all world. As such, they imagined themselves living on the neighbourhoods that they used to watch in the brazilian soap operas in Portugal – with amazing landscapes near the beach, which are synonymous of security, status and quality of life. Since the wages and the living expenses often do not meet their expectations, the families had to put into equation the neighborhood by one side and the house by the other, as well as consumption practices and material culture itself.
The houses and families, alongside their material culture and everyday domestic consumption practices, especially through food, but also through furniture, decorative options and clothing proved to be a positive contribution to revealing significant features in structuring relations both with the context of origin and destination.