Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Portugal: El Dorado for 'Aussies'*?

* Aussie is a German abbreviation for "Aussteiger", which means people who leave the mainstream cultural lifestyle and try to become autarchic.

Already in the 1980's immigration into Portugal from people from central Europe started; so to say, the hippie generation that wanted to live its ideals. This movement seems to have intensified ever since. Now there is a whole sub-culture of ecologically minded immigrants in Portugal. This opens up a series of intriguing questions regarding the effects of this process.

What is the relationship between the immigrants and the local population? How do they interact? With what consequences?

What does attract the immigrants in the first place?

Certainly the image of a relatively unspoilt environment (not completely true, appart from the fact that industrialization is not so intense as elsewhere in Europe) and relatively low land prices.
Immigrants generally tend to complain about the highly bureacratic, time consuming and dis-organized way things work (or not) in Portugal. On the other hand, the reduced and sometimes chaotic enforcement of laws and kinship-based strategies to circumvent the law (not to call it corruption), together with huge abandoned areas gives foreigners a special sense of freedom: here their dreams can come true. This is the Far-West of Europe.

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