Things and places from the city. Consumption practices, settlement and belonging of second generation migrants in Lisbon


  • Marta Vilar Rosales UFG



migration, belonging, place, youth, material culture


While much scholarly work has been produced on the complex topic of contemporary migration, there is still relatively little literature on its intersections with material culture and consumption practices. But the impact of migration on material experiences goes beyond attachment to objects from home; it can change peoples’ perceptions of themselves, restructure their patterns of social interaction and, I believe, alter the balance of relationships maintained not just with those left behind but also with those who migrated to other localities as well as those who share and inhabit the same places.Drawing on the results of an ethnographic study carried out in Lisbon with teenage boys and girls of African descent, this paper aims to explore the interface between migration, materiality and place and, more significantly still, how personal, cultural and geographical trajectories, and positioning and belonging policies are marked and partially constituted through the relationship with mass produced goods which are acquired and used in very specific urban contexts. The study will draw particular attention to two aspects. The first stems from the fact that everyday things such as clothes, mobile phones, sneakers, food and music would seem to be appropriated according to a specific logic in order to materialize the teenagers’ collective identities and positioning strategies in specific key places such as the neighbourhood, school or city centre where they sometimes go clubbing and shopping. The second concerns the existence of an intense on-going transnational circulation of objects, which informs the existence of a complex social network based in multiple locations. Besides contributing to the maintenance and strengthening of family relationships, the continuous circulation of goods stimulates the production of a hierarchical representation of the world – a constellation of different places linked by complex transnational networks- and therefore of the best migration destinations, based on what is sent and received.


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ROSALES, M. V. Things and places from the city. Consumption practices, settlement and belonging of second generation migrants in Lisbon. Sociedade e Cultura, Goiânia, v. 16, n. 1, p. 10.5216/sec.v16i1.28215, 2014. DOI: 10.5216/sec.v16i1.28215. Disponível em: Acesso em: 7 dez. 2022.