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“My country, my pain; my child, my love”: Aging Azoreans in San Jose, California and ancestral homeland return (im)mobilities

António João Saraiva, João Sardinha


This article centres its attentions on the case studies of two couples and two individuals who emigrated from the Portuguese islands of the Azores to San Jose, California as part of the post-1957 Capelinhos (volcanic eruption) migration wave. Through in-depth qualitative research, including the gathering of narratives and descriptions of daily life collected through participant observation, our analysis sets out to examine the return/non-return aspirations and negotiations of our participants upon reaching retirement age, observing how influencing factors may mould (im)mobility desires. In setting out to provide descriptive portraits of (im)mobility conceptualisations, we aim to illustrate that return does not always demand permanent physical mobility, as the homeland may be brought closer than one thinks—transplanted in time and space, through one’s own efforts of bringing the ancestral homeland to where one is presently. In turn, this may equally be the fodder that keeps the dream of return alive.


return (im)mobilities, Azorean immigrants, retirement age, homemaking, integration

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