Portuguese Women in Toronto: Gender Immigration, and Nationalism

By Todd, Roy | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Portuguese Women in Toronto: Gender Immigration, and Nationalism


Todd, Roy, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Wenona Giles, Portuguese Women in Toronto: Gender Immigration, and Nationalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 161pp. Cloth. £25. ISBN 0-8020-3580-9.

Several community events were held in 2003 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the agreements made in 1953 between the Portuguese and Canadian governments that led to a substantial increase in Portuguese migration. According to the 2001 census, there are now about 360,000 people of Portuguese origin in Canada, with almost half living in Toronto. The Portuguese, with their distinctive pattern of migration and settlement in Canada, have been little studied until recently, and there are very few studies of the place of women in the community. This book, which analyses the situation of Portuguese women in Canada through a focus upon the lives of immigrant women and their daughters, is therefore a welcome addition to the literature.

There are three main themes to Giles' analysis: a critique of frameworks that present a unified, homogeneous conception of the Portuguese in Canada; an analysis of the situation of Portuguese women in Canada that extends historically and internationally; and a discussion of the ways in which Portuguese and Canadian nationalism shape collective identities. The sense of critique and the integration of these themes can be illustrated by Giles' comment that:

Nationalism in Canada, expressed in the politics of multiculturalism and in labour-market-oriented immigration policies, creates gender, class and ethnic divides. …

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