Postcolonial encounters in globalisation

(Dis)entangling Portuguese-speaking migrant's social positionings in Switzerland
Multilingualism in institutions and society
Project management:
09.2019 to 09.2020
In progress

Lusophonia embraces different kind of groups and people.  If they share the Portuguese language, on the one hand, they do not share the same historical position on the other. This project on language, identity and labour migration attempts to fill the existing gap in sociolinguistic and migration studies about Lusophone postcolonial relations, but outside Portugal and its former colonies. It explores the complex social and linguistic intersections between Portuguese, Brazilian and Cape Verdean migrants in Switzerland, to where, like many Portuguese migrants, Cape Verdeans and Brazilians have relocated after living in Portugal and/or other European countries, gaining citizenship of these countries, or coming directly from their country of origin.

Through interviews, participant observation, visual and material objects, this sociolinguistic ethnography aims to understand how these migrants’ language repertoires, identities and trajectories into Switzerland affect their social relations and contribute to a linguistic and labour “niche market” that they draw on as alternative ways of managing their lives. The project will explore the ethos of Lusophonia, i.e. its values, the continuities and ruptures within it; and to what extent the language hierarchies inside and outside of Lusophone spaces in Switzerland correspond to their social positionings, particularly, in the officially bilingual Canton of Fribourg. For the Institute of Multilingualism, it contributes to their research line on the role of multilingualism in the globalised labour market.