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A Hidden Immigration: The Geography of Polish-Brazilian Cultural Identity


Around two million people of Polish descent live in Brazil today, comprising approximately one percent of the national population. Their residence is concentrated mainly in the southern Brazil region, the former provinces (and today states) of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul regions. These areas were to large extent a demographic vacuum when Brazil began its history as a nation in 1822, but now include the foci of some of this huge country's most dynamic economies.

Polish immigration played a major role in adding new elements to Brazilian culture in many different ways. The geography of some of these elements forms the core of the thesis. At the heart of this work lies an examination of cultural identity shifts from past to present. This is demonstrated through a rural-urban case study that analyzes the impacts of geography, cultural identity, and the environment. The case study is a rural-urban analysis of two particular examples in Paraná, which will discuss these patterns and examine migration tendencies throughout southern Brazil. As a whole, this thesis aims to explain how both rural and urban Polish-Brazilian cultural identities changed through time, linking these with both economic and demographic shifts.

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