The Perils of Empire: Nationhood and Citizenship in Portugal

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nationalism, racism, European Union, postcolonialism, minorities

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After the demise of the Portuguese empire and even more after joining the European Union, the Portuguese state redefined the borders of national belonging. The shift was one from a multi-continental nation, which included parts of Africa, to a more restricted definition of nationhood, one that stressed Portugal's connection to Europe and thus defined belonging by descent. This article, based on research conducted in Lisbon, Portugal in 2003, discusses the impact of this shift on Portuguese citizens of ethnically diverse backgrounds. The Portuguese state, media, academia, and civil society are all involved in constructing, disseminating, and hence consolidating a notion of nationhood that treats ethnically diverse minorities as foreigners, placing them outside the national community. Not producing or disseminating information on ethnic minorities, the Portuguese academia, media, and the state are all actively involved in reproducing a process that perpetuates exclusion and obstructs the construction of political alliances to confront widespread discrimination.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Citizenship Studies, v. 12, issue 4, p. 397-412