A Brazilian-born scholar's study of Brazilian immigration to America through the lens of his experiences on the way to becoming a naturalized American citizen.
Cavalcanti (Sociology/James Madison Univ.; Voices from the Valley: Rural Ministry in the United Church of Christ, 2011, etc.) examines the "bifurcated lives" of Brazilian immigrants like himself "whose lives only make sense seen from the prism of both [Brazilian and American cultures].” He discusses how, though born in Recife and raised by "very Brazilian" parents, he became well-versed in the culture of the American South through Presbyterianism, the religion his family practiced and which was brought to northern Brazil by American missionaries in the 1800s. By the time he was a young man, Cavalcanti was a cultural hybrid who was as fond of bossa nova as he was the songs of Stephen Foster and Hoagy Carmichael. However, due to his exposure to Protestant ideals of self-determination and self-reliance, he found that he could not fully accept the military dictatorships that ruled Brazil or the Iberian patronage system that "coated all aspects" of Brazilian life. And so he became part of the Latin American migrant flow to the United States, a trend that exists because "the United States...offers opportunities that we cannot find in our own countries.” With a powerful blend of compassion and academic insight, the author discusses the emotional and financial costs of immigration while also celebrating the heightened awareness and personal freedom offered to individuals who stay the course in adopting a new country and culture. Cavalcanti then discusses his experiences alongside major theories of global migration and considers the social and economic factors that account for migratory trends, especially in the last 30 years.
A wise and humane book that illuminates the modern Brazilian immigrant experience with vigor and clarity.