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RECRIAR poster
Portugal has long been a country of emigration with many of its citizens choosing to leave
especially since the 1960s. The Portuguese have emigrated for various reasons such as: to avoid
military service during the colonial wars, to find a better quality of life abroad, to escape the
authoritarian regime during the 20th century and the economic crisis of the past decade. Today,
the Portuguese are dispersed across the world in countries such as Switzerland, France,
Germany, USA, Brazil, UK, Canada, Venezuela and Luxembourg.
The group photography exhibition RECRIAR: Portugueses do Luxemburgo focuses on the
public and private lives of the Portuguese who have settled down in Luxembourg since the
1960s. Today they make up around 16% of the total Luxembourgish population. They represent
the highest proportion of Portuguese in relation to the local population, outside of Portugal.
This exhibition presents the works of four photographers from Luxembourg: Sven Becker,
Paulo Lobo, Bruno Oliveira and Jessica Theis. Each of them explore, in their own way, a
different aspect of the lives of the Portuguese in Luxembourg.
Numerous Portuguese left their country during a time when Portugal was under a corporatist
authoritarian regime. Many decided to move to Luxembourg. They arrived during a time of
economic growth, when the country was in need of manual labor, especially in the construction
sector. This was also partly due to the fact that Luxembourgers themselves started to refuse
manual and industrial jobs as the financial services sector was on the rise. As stated by several
authors such as David Justino (2016), Delfina Beirão (1999), Elizabeth Leeds (1983) and
Nayade Anido and Rubens Freire (1978), the majority of the first Portuguese emigrants had
little secondary education or no diploma, in some cases they were illiterate and in most cases
they only spoke Portuguese. For these reasons, they mainly occupied unskilled jobs in
construction, the hotel industry, domestic service, the manufacturing industry and transport. In
Luxembourg they were considered to be hard workers motivated by the fact that they saw their
time in Luxembourg as a transitional phase. The stay was supposed to give them the
opportunity to save enough money in Luxembourg in order to start a better life in Portugal
afterwards. Their main goal was to work as much as possible, to be able to leave as soon as
possible. In the end, however, only a few returned, as the conclusion of a bilateral agreement
between Portugal and Luxembourg which was put into force in 1972, allowed Portuguese
families to settle permanently in Luxembourg.
Following the economic crisis of 2008, Portugal entered an economic recession which lasted
until 2013. The austerity program which did not only affect employment but also public
services, wages, pensions and social rights led to another big wave of emigration. Many left
and are still leaving the country in the hope of finding better opportunities and conditions
elsewhere. The rate of unemployment in Portugal is still high and wage inequality is among
the highest in Europe. During this period, more academically qualified and high-skilled
professionals have emigrated to other European countries. Portugal is one of the few countries
in the European Union where the number of emigrants outnumber the number of immigrants.

When moving to Luxembourg, the Portuguese, like many other immigrants, imported their
habits, culture and activities. They aimed to recreate a similar “Portuguese” life in their host
country. Over the last few decades, they have opened their own restaurants, cafes and
businesses, created their own associations, football clubs, folk dance groups and much more.
In our globalized world, a transnational space has been created between the home and the host
country, in which migrants attempt to maintain political, economic, cultural and social ties

across borders. However, living between two or more cultures results in a sense of in-
betweenness, which can be demanding as those concerned are expected to be at the same time

devoted to their places of origin and the host country. Moreover, they often feel like strangers
in their countries of origin and are seen as foreigners in the host country. RECRIAR:
Portugueses do Luxemburgo examines through photography, the challenges of identity and
belonging as well as the challenges and results of immigration which have shaped the
Portuguese in Luxembourg and Luxembourg as a country.

Atena Abrahimia
With the kind support of:
Fondation Indépendance by Bil
Embassy of Luxembourg in Portugal
Malou & Robert Baddé
Fine Print Lisbon
Fábrica Braço de Prata

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