Monday, May 13, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Goodbye, Brazil Émigrés from the Land of Soccer and Samba by Maxine L. Margolis
Brazil, a country that has always received immigrants, only rarely saw its own citizens move abroad. Beginning in the late 1980s, however, thousands of Brazilians left for the United States, Japan, Portugal, Italy, and other nations, propelled by a series of intense economic crises. By 2009 an estimated three million Brazilians were living abroad—about 40 percent of them in the United States. Goodbye, Brazil is the first book to provide a global perspective on Brazilian emigration. Drawing and synthesizing data from a host of sociological and anthropological studies, preeminent Brazilian immigration scholar Maxine L. Margolis surveys and analyzes this greatly expanded Brazilian diaspora, asking who these immigrants are, why they left home, how they traveled abroad, how the Brazilian government responded to their exodus, and how their host countries received them. Margolis shows how Brazilian immigrants, largely from the middle rungs of Brazilian society, have negotiated their ethnic identity outside Brazil. She argues that Brazilian society abroad is characterized by the absence of well-developed, community-based institutions—with the exception of thriving, largely evangelical Brazilian churches. Margolis looks to the future as well, asking what prospects at home and abroad await the new generation, children of Brazilian immigrants with little or no familiarity with their parents' country of origin. Do Brazilian immigrants develop such deep roots in their host societies that they hesitate to return home despite Brazil's recent economic boom—or have they become true transnationals, traveling between Brazil and their adopted lands but feeling not quite at home in either one?
Maxine L. Margolis is professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Florida and adjunct senior research scholar at the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia University.