Young People with Portuguese Origins in Contemporary France: Claiming One’s Identity in a Foreign Political Space

By Jean-Baptiste Pingault

Are youths with Portuguese origins invisible? This thesis is largely accepted although they have been trying hard. In the early ‘80s, young activists, who were trained by opponents to the Salazar regime and pro-immigrant activists, tried to launch a “thos” movement. Firmly involved in politics, these young activists, often born in Portugal, claim to be “immigrants” in the first place. They want to integrate the Portuguese in the French political space: to transform the Portuguese in France into the Portuguese of France. Their active commitment to “Convergence 84” did not bring them the media publicity they were expecting: the conflict was between French and North Africans. The concept of invisibility appeared a couple of months before “Convergence”: it was already obvious that the “thos” would never be the “beurs” (Arabs). The end of the 1980s marked a new deal. Almost all young Portuguese were born in France and found in the Portugal of growth and Europe the valuable identity resource that their elders found in the Portuguese revolution. They now are “lusodescendants”: a new concept tailored by the Portuguese authorities for a genuine national marketing that put culture first. They tried to create the tools for a long-term perpetuation of Portuguese identity in France. What was their means? Europe and vote. Strategy? Lobbying and imposing a “Portuguese brand”. Results? An ascending generation within the Portuguese community. They won a visibility at the upper levels of state in France and Portugal but, yet, failed to mobilize the Portuguese community on vote.


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