Becoming In Between: the Transnational Formation of Angola's New Middle Class - NOTE: 11am Start Time
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)
During the long independence and civil war in Angola that raged from 1961-2002, the top and bottom social rungs of society were clearly defined, but the 'in between' was almost non-existent. Post-conflict, of tremendous importance to both future and present is the gradual emergence of a middle class that is bringing with it both new demands of the state, and some of the skills to meet them. Preliminary research has demonstrated that this is taking place largely through high-scale temporary westward migration to Brazil, following migration pathways established over 500 years of Portuguese colonialism in both countries. In preparation for an 18-month ethnographic study to be conducted in Benguela, Angola and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil beginning later this year, this paper seeks to understand the ways in which an emergent Angolan middle class is being formed in a trans-Atlantic South-South circuit, and how the group is recognized and defined. It reads South-South inter-Lusophone migration as an important marker of contemporary shifts in the global economy and changing aspirational centers. These no longer necessitate movement from the global South to North, nor, necessarily, the mastery of English, but in this case speaks to the continuing influence of the echoes of empire in the projects of nation-building, despite a much-changed world.
Jess Auerbach is a third year PhD student in the anthropology department.