Intergenerational solidarity in the context of transnational migration
CES-UA University of Azores Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
Le Gall, Josiane
Département de communication sociale et publique Université du Québec à Montréal Montreal, Canada
How is the intergenerational solidarity reconfigured within the transnational families? What forms of support and exchanges take place between the members of families involved in transnational migration? What changes occur in the organization of support familial networks during important life transitions? These are the questions we examine in our exploratory research focused on a yet undocumented migration phenomenon, that of Portuguese population from the Azores archipelago to Canada. These migration flows directed to Canada started in the mid-1950s and reached a peak in the 1970s, continuing until nowadays at lower levels. Maintaining strong ties with the communities left behind and the return migration of the first generation migrants registered in the last decade allow us though to observe the transnational migration as a historical and present phenomenon. Organized as an important family-led migration, this phenomenon involves nowadays the first, second and sometimes third generations of migrants. While the immigrants settled in Canada maintain strong ties and multi-directional exchanges with their origin communities (through visits, traditional feasts, etc.), the return migrants preserve important links with the destination society because their children remain.
The migration of Portuguese population from the Azorean region to Canada represents an interesting case study for the debates on transnationalism because it involves a continuous back-and-forth movement between the origin and destination countries over more than 50 years. Therefore the impact of migration on the sending community (a European marginal region and insular society) is analyzed including in the research the non-migrants. Based on biographical interviews conducted with members of 2 or 3 generations of a same family living in the Azores and Montreal, Canada, this paper aims to bring an important contribution to the models that conceptualize familial solidarity in a transnational context, an area still under-researched both in European and Canadian contexts. This case study also allows us to initiate comparisons with a more documented migration phenomenon such as that of Portuguese from mainland to France or other European countries, offering a contrasting example where the geographic distance can play an important role in determining the forms of support circulating within the transnational networks.