Discussing the Uses of Public Space By Children of Bangladeshi Immigrants in Portugal: A Small Urban Square in Porto

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Elaine ANDRADE, Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Manuela FERREIRA, Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
The immigration of Bangladeshi to Portugal is a recent phenomenon and quite different from the other immigrant flows to this country by more ‘traditional’ immigrants from Portugal’s ex-colonies. Since 1986 the flow of Bangladeshi immigrants to Portugal has been growing in numbers compared to previous years. A lot of immigrant families from Bangladesh live in one of the most touristic and historical zones of Porto. In this area exists a small urban square close to Porto’s main train station where their children frequently spend their free time.

Based on the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) approach of Latour, the interactions of these immigrant children in/with this area, seen as a network in action, have been mapped through observations, interviews and interactions with 16 children proceeding since July 2015. Episodes under analysis will focus on the connections between heterogeneous context elements like immigrant theories, praxis, objects, culture, human, non-human, religion, places, space, etcetera. In all occasions, the children used the area only in their own ethnic groups. Their presence and actions are strongly divided by gender: the girls prefer to use the place more to chat, the boys are always playing football or Beyblade.

Despite the vast theoretical literature which draws the distinction among space – homogenous and measurable element – and place – existing by the meaningful relation with people or other places - for Latour there is no sense to talk about this opposition, because every space is in constant and impermanent association with human or not human.

Once Portuguese children do not use the urban public space like Bangladeshi immigrant children, does this space represent an extension of their (private/domestic) place? Furthemore, what kinf of places and childhoods are being built through this interaction?