In the late 1980s over one million Brazilians left Brazil without returning, mainly because of that country’s economic downturn (Sales 1998). In 1990 the US Census recorded 94,087 Brazilians, although they were undercounted by at least 80% (Margolis 1994, p. 105). Today, an estimated two million Brazilians live abroad, 1.2 million of who reside in the United States. Unlike most Spanish-speaking Latin American immigrants to the United States, and unlike most Mexican immigrants who are generally “rural laborers with low educational levels”, Brazilian immigrants are not fleeing abject starvation; nor are they political refugees seeking asylum, or fleeing a civil war (Margolis 1994). They tend to be mostly urbanites from Five Fingers KSO middle and lower-middle-classes (Sales 1998), although recently Brazilian immigrants from rural areas and lower socioeconomic levels have become more common.
Migration processes are just as much about those who leave Brazil for receiving communities in the United States as they are about those who return to Brazil (i.e. returnees) and what happens to sending communities in Brazil. In order to gain deeper insights into the migration process it is important to evaluate circumstances in receiving and sending communities (Levitt 2001). According to Peggy Levitt, “the assumption that people live their lives in one place, according to one set of national and cultural norms, in countries with impermeable national borders, no longer holds” (2004, p. 1). Brazilians (re)create places and spaces within Vibram Five Fingers Shoes receiving communities in the United States, and they also add and incorporate new elements to their livelihoods in sending communities in Brazil.
How are these Portuguese-speaking Brazilian immigrants shaping, experiencing, and (re)creating new places and spaces In what ways and spheres do transnational exchanges affect two places of destination in the United States and two places of origin in Brazil after migration occurs This paper addresses these important questions inherently tied to cultural geography and ethnic geography, and also of interest to other scholars and to public policy makers. The broader aim of this paper is to evaluate socio-spatial processes and changes in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Marietta, Georgia, in the United States; and in Governador Valadares, in the state of Minas Gerais, and Piracanjuba, in the state of Goias, in Brazil, by illustrating how migration has played an important role in the transformation of new ethnic and transnational landscapes