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Elites

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João de Pina Cabral
, 
Antónia Pedroso de Lima

Part IV. Monopolies and Enclaves

9. Re-serving Succession in a British Enclave1

Jean Lave

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 João de Pina Cabrai and Antónia Pedroso de Lima created an acutely considered problem for their wor (...)

Grape Britain: The dynasties who have controlled the port industry since the seventeenth century live in a corner of Portugal that is forever England.

  • 2 The quotation marks around 'Taylor's' reflect the fact that the family referred to is that of Alast (...)

1This is the headline of an article about British port shippers in the Sunday Times Magazine (London, 3 August 1997). The article notes the visits of a variety of celebrities and royalty to 'the Taylors' and 'the Symingtons', portrayed respectively as the oldest and the largest of the port firms, as the pre-eminent port families and as in perennial rivalry with each other over the production of vintage port. The headline reflects faithfully the story that follows: its subjects are described as aristocratic (those 'dynasties'), as unchanging (since the seventeenth century), as British ('forever England'), as heads of port-wine families and firms, and as if they are the British in Porto. The article gives a skilfully decontextualized rendering of 'long-unbroken elite succession' among the British port-wine merchants. The 'Taylors' and Symingtons certainly would not object.2 This chapter examines how the port gentry produce such a decontextualized vision in practice, its raison d'être and its effects.

2Stories similar to the one in the Sunday Times are told in many venues: the port gentry families are described with reverence in the literature and the free tours for hordes of visitors to the port firms tightly clustered in Vila Nova de Gaia. Firms regularly produce commemorative volumes for anniversaries marking their founding or for decades, or centuries, of port-wine production. There are frequent luxurious and elaborate tours for journalists and substantial customers that start at the Port 'houses' in the historical trade entrepôt in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro river from the city of Porto (it is in Vila Nova de Gaia that almost all port is aged, blended, and bottled and from which it is shipped), swing across the river to the exclusive male port scions' weekly luncheon for themselves and their guests at the British port firms' private club, the Factory House, and then travel 80 km. up the river for a weekend of elegant meals, excellent port, and tours of wine-making centres at the firms' guest lodges among the vineyards in the demarcated zone of port grape production. These tours are hosted by the old port families associated with particular firms, who entertain their guests as if presiding over house parties at rural estates. A crucial component of their claims to social standing and power is fashioned through these tours. Large orders of wine result, and also a constant flow of articles that reiterate facets of the port gentry story amid wine reviews and society gossip in the popular and trade presses. The journalist's picture of the families and their lives is typical of the genre:

Although there are now many Portuguese companies, British port houses still dominate the market and their members live up to the image of the Englishman abroad. Jim Reader, production manager of Cockburn's, came out to the company as an oenologist and now looks every bit the colonial gent, with his ruddy cheeks and twirling moustache. He recalls, 'At my interview all they wanted to know was whether I played cricket.'
Oporto may not have any obvious trappings of the Empire, but the few hundred Brits in the trade live as if they were in Britain. The Telegraph or The Times land on their desks every morning. The men favour tweed suits in winter and Panama hats in summer, eat Marmite for breakfast, and speak execrable Portuguese. The women subscribe to Country Life and Tatler, grow rose gardens, make jams for the annual bazaar, keep braces of pheasant in the freezer, and join quilting circles and amateur dramatics groups.
Hospitable to a fault, their houses are done up as English country homes with lots of flowery chintz, hunting prints and stags' heads. The children are sent to public school in Britain. At weekends they go to the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club where they play, watched by intrigued Portuguese children who gather on the wall. On Sundays they attend the English church in the morning, then walk the dogs: Dalmatians for the Taylors and springer spaniels for the Syms. And of course they all claim to drink a bottle of port a day.
'We're strange animals', admits James Symington over white port and tonic at his country estate, where a wild boar's head takes pride of place.
'I feel that Oporto is home and have a great love for the country, but one's way of life is largely British. Most of our socialising is with the other British because one shares the same outlook, the same set of ideas. Portuguese men tend to like roaring off on motorbikes at weekends, which is something I can't imagine doing, while I can't imagine the Portuguese women getting down on their hands and knees with a trowel in the garden like my wife, Penny' (ibid., p. 45).

3The Sunday Times version of the port gentry story sets the scene as a colonial enclave, with its 'colonial gents', as a 'small, isolated community where until recently the only way home [Great Britain in this context] was by boat', in which 'many British port traders have married into each other's families'. Here, 'members live up to the image of the Englishman abroad' in spite of not having the 'trappings of empire'. A series of vignettes describe men who stand for the colony of old port-wine families and familiar brands of port. The vignettes tell us from whom these men have inherited their port-shipping mandate and which of their sons are to follow. Alistair Robertson, James Symington, Rupert Symington and Peter Cobb are subjected to this treatment. Specific issues about grooming successors in the next generation are presented in the article as a preoccupation in family, not corporate, settings. The Annual Ladies' Day Lunch at the Oporto Factory House 'is an occasion for matchmaking, discussing the best public schools to send one's offspring to, and comparing outfits in turns of phrase Jane Austen would have appreciated' (ibid., 42).

4By contrast to the framing of succession in individual terms-in discussions of public schools or spouses - community institutions for producing and sustaining family life are scarcely mentioned - indeed, only as historical accomplishments of the colony.

5Practices of succession refer in part to antecedents that entitle the bearer (invariably male) and his family to elevated social position and an assured future. They seem to presume a future inhabited as they presently live it (if not better), and so avoid speculating about it. This flat, presentist vision is, in effect, ahistorical in character, like the one that depicts the port trade as dominated by Brits who in turn are dominated by the rivalry between Symingtons and Taylors as they try to outdo each other in the making of vintage ports. There are other sorts of 'histories' as well: the journalist's story sketches a whiggish 'event history' composed of internationally recognized benchmarks, 1703 (Methuen Treaty), 1812 (Napoleonic Wars), 1832 (Portuguese Civil War), 1974 (Portuguese Revolution), as an armature on which to hang the port gentry's distinctly self-congratulatory tale of the discovery, invention, fortification and improvement of port wine by generations of discerning Brits. There are excluded histories: drastic political-economic transformations in the centuries of the port trade and the changes these have wrought in the British enclave are practically invisible. So is Portugal, the host nation state that encompasses the port trade and the British enclave. In quoting extensively from the story in The Sunday Times, I have included all but one of its meagre references to Portugal and things Portuguese. A-histories, Whig histories, excluded histories - they erase and conflate the relations that produce port gentry entitlement.

6Many of the authors in this book share a view that family succession to wealth and high social position is a complex and contradictory process extending across multiple places, generations, and practices. In this view, 'succession' treated as a matter of choice within an elite family or corporate entity appears problematic, too narrow a construction of the devolution of power and position and too limited a view of the significant participants and crucial actors. Bearing this in mind, Antónia Pedroso de Lima and João de Pina Cabral's insistence that we locate leadership and succession in shared contexts seems fundamental to understanding any and all aspects of social life in terms of social practice, situated as it is in spatial, historical, economic and political relations.

  • 3 The production of elite succession, like the production of elite knowledge (Latour and Woolgar 1979 (...)

7What 'elite contextualization' might mean is crucial in pursuing ethnographic studies of succession among the powerful and privileged (and with them the powerless and underprivileged). There are special perils in carrying out research on those with more power to control their relations with the anthropologist than the latter has to stipulate the dimensions of her ethnographic inquiry. Among the British in Porto, at any rate, I found that much of the power to control what others came to know involved decontextualization of key conditions and processes for producing succession, in response to the surprisingly numerous others who would have liked to draw it into public view. Excluded, Whig and a-histories are examples of such practices. In such circumstances it makes sense to engage in an anthropology of recontextualization, exploring ethnographically the practices through which the prestigious and powerful erase and fabricate the conditions of their own production.3

The Problem

  • 4 I use the term 'circuit' with some hesitation to invoke active travel through complex social terrai (...)

8For the British historically connected with the port-wine trade who are locally recognized 'first families' in the British enclave in the city of Porto, succession to leadership in the community and the trade is in part a matter of demonstrating effortless entitlement to it. Their apparent ease paradoxically requires sustained hard work, including political struggle to defend positions of privilege. Much of the work goes into sustaining local institutional practices that are partially the means and partially the symbols of their success. Tensions between the requirements to demonstrate effortless ease and to engage in persistent labour are partially resolved as port gentry families participate in two distinct circuits of succession-production that they further arrange to keep apart.4

9The first links the port firms in Gaia, the Factory House and the wine 'estates' in the Douro. How the port gentry inhabit these spaces raises questions about how a few families manage to portray themselves as first families, and obtain ratification as such, through their astonishingly practised interactions with the public, customers, and the press. A close examination of the port gentry histories in The Sunday Times will clarify what the story's tellers wish to make public and wish to erase.

  • 5 After two preliminary field trips to Porto in 1991 and 1992, I spent a year there from August 1993 (...)

10If the first circuit is about displaying success, the second is about securing successors. The insular round of day-to-day life in the British enclave in Porto, including regular attendance at church, school and club, presents major sites of elite leadership in part aimed at the control of succession. The enclave provides women and children (and men now perhaps more than in the past) with reassurance that they have not become merely ghosts of their former selves. But they have far less control over other participants than in the Gaia-Douro circuit. For, in spite of the impression the port gentry seek to create, the British enclave in Porto is heterogeneous, composed of class-, gender- and nationally-differentiated factions. Work by elite leaders to secure their institutional trajectories in the enclave is a way to ensure succession for their desired successors while securing other social locations for those who are not. Indeed, as community leaders this 'guarantee' is in some sense their problem. Ethnographic exploration of their labour and political struggle in the British enclave is part of the recontextualization of port gentry succession.5

  • 6 This inquiry into the sustenance and transformation of British class culture in the centuries-old e (...)

11The Factory House is a pivotal institution that plays a part in each circuit. But there are many practices that segregate these circuits in space and time: common boundaries (that in most other social settings seem confirmed by mundane social arrangements) are here made differently, between commodity and persons, between public and private family life, and between firm and family. All are brought into the service of producing and sustaining family succession to power and influence in the British enclave and in the port trade.6

Background

12British merchants first, and later their families, have been a presence, overseeing family life and port-wine export firms in Porto, Portugal (a city of two names, called Oporto by the British), since the late eighteenth century, and in small numbers for a century before that. As the English favoured Douro wines - when fortified with brandy, the grapes grown in the severe conditions of the upper Douro river valley produce a strong, sweet wine - English factors settling in Porto at the mouth of the Douro came to dominate a trade in 'port wine', as their successors still do today.

13A lucrative trade comprising diverse constituents inevitably produced confrontations. Whether these arose from conflicts of class, privilege, religion, city versus country, or one of several other points of tension, as most shippers were British and most landowners and farmers Portuguese both contests and contestants were easily divided along national lines. In 1755, the Portuguese government was vigorously petitioned by British factors and Portuguese farmers. Each accused the other of running down the trade. Guided by the future Marquis of Pombal, the state established a monopoly company, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura das Vinhas do Alto Douro, with exclusive powers and effective control over the making and export of the wine. It also demarcated a particular area of the Douro, decreeing that the wine from that region alone could be exported as Douro wine, and granted certain privileges to the Porto exporters.

14At the heart of the port trade is a changing but continual struggle between Portuguese family farmers who raise port grapes and merchant exporters, many, but not all of them, British, who export the wine and have relatively recently come to dominate its production as well. But dilemmas of the last fifty years look quite different from those of the first two hundred and fifty, as many of the British merchants have become more emblematic of, than central actors in, the port trade. There are problems concerning the continued hegemonic position of the old port families in the British enclave in Porto today, in the face of the declining contribution of the port trade to the Portuguese economy and its external trade balances. It is uncertain whether the port families can continue to sustain the community institutions they nonetheless control. And they face increasing control by the multinational owners and Portuguese managers of the 'British' port firms.

15Indeed, what three decades or more ago were family partnership-based firms are for the most part no longer family-owned. The firms that control the port trade today are small subdivisions of multinational corporations in the global alcoholic beverages industry. The families face these changes with much at stake in re-serving a future for themselves and their children as scions of the port trade and as métonymie representatives of the British enclave. In the longer run the fragility of the position of the port gentry families of the enclave in Porto seems clear. A central question concerns how they are to sustain their power when this has decreasing resonance with their political-economic interpolation in the global corporate organization of trade.

Port Gentry and the Factory House

  • 7 For instance, they elide business practices of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by whic (...)

16A prior question is, 'Who are the port gentry families?' According to the port gentry narrative, it should be easy to answer: these families have been in Portugal for three hundred years, founded port-wine firms nearly that long ago, own and manage these same firms today, and can trace unbroken descent from then until now. None of the port gentry families meets these criteria. There are historical reasons.7 We also know that most firms that existed at the turn of the century and were still operating at the time of the Portuguese Revolution in 1974 were subsequently acquired by multinational corporations. If not their unbroken succession to ownership of port-wine firms, what does distinguish them from the rest? The key lies in the membership of some British port firms in the exclusive Factory House. A dozen or so firms belong to this club, officially known as The British Association, and are represented by men whose forebears worked up to influential positions in the port firms a generation or more ago, or whose families now own, or formerly owned, port firms or who have ancestral claims on connections with the port trade.

17The twelve member firms in 1993 were Churchill Graham, Cockburn Smithes, Croft and Co., Delaforce Sons, W. & J. Graham, Martinez Gassiot, Robertson Brothers, Sandeman and Co., Silva and Cosens, Taylor, Fladgate and Yeatman, and Warre. Though the names appear to be Portuguese, Martinez Gassiot (English and Spanish originally) is owned by Cockburn's, Silva & Cosens by Symington. The individual members, including the port gentry, are eight Symingtons, D. G. S. Bain, Huyshe Bower, Alastair Robertson, R. A. Reid, J. K. Burnett, and I. A. Sinclair, three Guimaraens, Peter Cobb, Jim Reader, Johnny Graham, George Sandeman, David Delaforce (in London), D. A. Orr and among the honorary members, George A. Robertson and W. A. Warre, who live in Great Britain. Members of the Factory House officially include 'high-ranking managers or directors' of the firms, but for those who are the first generation to enter a port firm, the degree of port gentrification they assume is modest and conditional. Bain, Burnett, Orr, Reader, and Sinclair, as 'newcomer' managers, are pillars of the British enclave, but not port gentry.

Table 9.1: The Factory House

Members 1993

Member Firms

Owned By

J. Graham
Peter Cobb
G. Guimaraens

Churchill Graham

J. Graham

J. Reader
R.A. Reid

Cockburn

Allied Domeq

J.K. Burnett

Croft

IDV then Diageo

David Delaforce
J.R.O’C Symington

Delaforce

Croft

A.J, Symington

W. Graham

Symington

D.A. Orr

Martinez Gassiot

Cockburn

G. Robertson (Hon.)
G. Sandeman
M.D. Symington
P.D. Symington

Robertson’s
Sandeman

Sandeman
Seagram

D.M. Symington

Silva & Cosens

Symington

A.B. Robertson

M.H.S. Bower

D.G.S. Bain
D.F. Guimaraens (assoc.)

Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman

Taylor’s

B.D. Guimaraens
I.D.F. Symington
PR. Symington
J.A.D. Symington

Fonseca Guimaraens

Taylor’s

W.A. Warre (Hon.)

Warre

Symington

18Whom Factory House members distinguish themselves from has a history: besides Portuguese port wine merchants, these include British merchants who do not trade in port wine, Brits whose class standing is less than that of the port gentry, and women. Each of these exclusions is elaborated in history, in the Gaia-Douro circuit and in the British enclave today.

19The Factory House is a three-storey imposing, rather grim, granite building that fills most of a city block. It

  • 8 A Factory House member, John Delaforce produced several volumes of Whig history on the enclave. The (...)

stands at the corner of two busy streets in the City of Oporto, not far from the River Douro... Two centuries ago these streets were in the centre of the commercial and residential area of the city; now their importance has diminished and their situation become unfashionable, but the Factory House continues to be a reminder of the British presence in the Port Wine trade, unbroken for more than three centuries (Delaforce 1989: xii).8

  • 9 In November 1831 the Foreign Office wrote, 'It is possible that the Documents which were brought to (...)

20Within this edifice a grand staircase rises at the far end of an imposing entrance hall, leading up to several salons and dining-rooms and the ballroom. There is a multi-level, multi-room library, and a billiards room (both shut down, and derelict at present), an old kitchen done up as an informal museum, new kitchens and a caretaker's apartment. The Factory House was built between 1785 and 1790 under a lease from the Portuguese government to William Warre. Whether he obtained the lease in his capacity as Consul of the British Nation, or as head of a private association, was then unclear and/or later obscured, creating a nice ambiguity about who owned the building. In 1810 British trade factories were abolished by treaty with Portugal. The Factory House denizens promptly renamed their club The British Association, suggesting an inclusive stance towards fellow-travellers in Porto that they by no means espoused. After the Napoleonic Wars there was deep controversy over rightful ownership. A small group of port merchants in possession of the Factory House argued that their firms had paid for the building out of a special levy on their exports. In opposition, the rest argued that it belonged to 'The British Nation in Portugal' and should be open to all (Delaforce 1989: 44). Consul Crispin's report to His Majesty's Secretary of State in 1830 argued in favour of those in possession, ending, 'If the Factory House were to be open for general use by Right, to all British Subjects, it could not be closed to any individual of whatever Class, male or female.' (Delaforce 1989: 43)9. It is not possible to tell whether Crispin was more horrified at the spectre of the lower classes or of women enjoying the use of the Factory House.

21The quarrel went on for almost a decade before the excluded merchants finally gave up their quest. But it was not the last.

An approach was made in 1902 to the British Association by a group of British residents, with the suggestion that a club be formed in conjunction with the British Association, to be based in the latter's premises in the Factory House... The proposal was given scant consideration and after a meeting of members of the Association, attended, it should be recorded, by only eight members, and these possibly the most conservative of the shippers, it was turned down in rather peremptory terms. In fact a social club was formed in 1902 with the name of 'British Union Club', shortly changed to the 'Oporto British Club' (Delaforce 1989: 40).

22Over two centuries the uses and vitality of the Factory House have changed. The outsiders in 1830 were merchants whose business connections as well as social lives were adversely affected by their exclusion. By 1900 everyday business was conducted in Vila Nova de Gaia, and desires to belong revolved around the Factory House as a social club for the community. The Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club now takes that place in the enclave, and the only parts of the Factory House that are used by the members are those designed for entertaining (such as the dining-rooms and the ballroom), as opposed to the rooms meant for shared use and sociability (such as the billiards room and the library).

23As the social institutional anchor of the port gentry it should not be surprising that the Factory House is a point of passage linking the Gaia-Douro circuit and the British enclave. But it plays a different part in each. On the one hand, as port gentry bring visitors to those exclusive weekly, men-only, Factory House luncheons, or on occasions like the annual Ladies' Day, visiting journalists, connoisseurs and wine buyers come as close as they ever will to encountering the inter-family social life of the enclave, mainly through the stories served up with dessert and port. So visitors like the journalist must rely on what the port family members choose to tell them about their lives in the British enclave. This implies several things: that the port shippers' elite position and succession is crafted somehow in divided lives; that visitors are furnished a picture of community life that supports elite claims, but is substantially inaccurate; and that the port gentry furnish a view of their lives that emphasizes a sort of 'late empire' ambience and themselves as the aristocracy of an otherwise homogeneous British enclave in Porto.

24On the other hand, the Factory House members' families demonstrate their social power and exclusivity in the British enclave as they give the occasional private party, but more importantly, issue limited invitations to the annual Factory House Christmas Ball, and other special festive social events. Here the membership of families and firms is very much confounded, and the effortless entitlement of the port gentry and their 'long unbroken succession' come into play in the enclave itself. At moments of high festivity they do seem to bring together their success, their successors, and selected others who have laboured on their behalf. In between the enormous old building stands eerily empty.

The Gaia-Douro Circuit

25The Gaia-Douro circuit takes the port gentry and their families out of the contexts of their everyday lives. In this sense and taken as a whole it is a practice of decontextualization. How this is fashioned is surely part of what it means to be port gentry. As the port gentry move through the Gaia-Douro circuit they create claims to exclusivity both through practices that strip away the complex process of their production and through practices that confound public, corporate and domestic spaces: decontextualization and conflation are two sides of a single coin. Each implies that families like the Symingtons and Robertsons have the resources to impose their interests and dispose of social arrangements and practices in their own fashion in circumstances they control with some ease.

26Removal from the British enclave is also a move into other places and practices. In Gaia and the Douro the port gentry's families, the Robertsons, Symingtons and others, are multiply, directly enmeshed in the political economy of the port trade. In the circumscribed world of the Gaia-Douro, the port gentry have become demonstrators of the life, the class (gender relations and nationality), for which vintage port wine is suited and that it in turn symbolizes. In this productive consumption they contribute to the marketing and distribution of port wine. But this is part of the production of port wine for trade and profit. The port merchant families demonstrate the 'authenticity' of their authority about port wine as producers of port. At the same time they demonstrate entitlement to that authority by the lives they (appear to) lead as old gentry wine-producers, which are the very lives for which port wine is appropriate. These families' lives are forged in the dialectics of the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of port wine, that is, in intimate connection with processes of commodification.

27This section first examines decontextualization practices that saturate convivial occasions throughout the Gaia-Douro circuit - erasures of economic struggles in the port trade, the creation of a vision of the port gently as leaders of a homogeneous British enclave, and the dismissal or denial of their profound interdependencies with Portuguese vineyard-keepers, workers, colleagues, neighbours and the Portuguese nation. Then we will turn to that other sort of decontextualization by which working social boundaries are disguised or erased for purposes of establishing entitlement to a gentrified position.

Decontextualization Practices

28The Sunday Times article describes a series of direct assertions of the Symingtons' and Robertsons' status in terms such as, 'the Robertsons "make an entrance", to the Annual Ladies' Luncheon at the Factory House, "befitting the first family of port'".... 'Holding court on the other table are the Taylors' deadly rivals the Symingtons, or Syms, as they are known.' Their position is underscored by contagion from those whom they know - celebrity visitors are mentioned repeatedly in the news, brochures and other accounts, in conversations among themselves and with visitors. The journalist reports that 'Visitors to the Taylors include US secretary of state James Baker and King Albert of Belgium; John Major spent his holidays two years running on a Symington estate.'

  • 10 Of Dynasty, a soap opera about the super-rich.

29They occupy the headline, from which we learn, 'The dynasties who have controlled the port industry since the 17th century... feud in a manner befitting the Carringtons and the Colbys.'10 That is, the journalist organizes the story she tells around what her hosts convey as a compelling rivalry between Symingtons and Taylors over the quality and marketing of vintage ports. 'It's the 2% of sales that make or break your reputation', says Rupert Symington'... It's really between us and the Taylors.'

30There are things askew in this portrayal of the port trade on the one hand, and of the relations among port merchant families on the other. Decontextualization has the effect of fetishizing vintage port and family prestige at one and the same time as it commodifies them.

31Begin with the claim of a dominating rivalry over vintage port. There is a hierarchy of qualities of ports that runs downwards from vintage to 30-, 20-, and 10-year blended ports, to low-quality (but high-volume) ruby ports. All the firms make every type of port. Vintage ports are a very small portion of the wines sold by any of the port firms. The Symingtons' holding company and Taylors' do engage in competitive relations-over the low-end, inexpensive ports. Until the practice was outlawed a couple of years ago, some firms sold port a granel - by the tanker truck - wholesale to French supermarkets to bottle under their own labels. Opposed by many firms, including Taylors, the Symingtons were popularly suspected of being among the offenders. Yet another serious struggle within and among port firms is generated in a contradiction between rare, expensive and unpredictable vintage wines (and by contagion their producers), and the contemporary global-economic logic that insists on high-volume standardized production. From the multinational management point of view vintage ports are a disruptive, expensive distraction from mass wine production and sales.

  • 11 This view obscures another distinction between Taylor's and Symington's, as the former look down on (...)

32In short, as the families' story of 'unbroken elite succession' directs us to their 'rivalry over vintage port' it erases the local and immediate economic contextualization of port wine, vintage and otherwise (and indeed, its further contextualization in the alcoholic beverages industry). We are left with a view of the port trade as a matter of noble families in conflict over noble wines11

33This theme of competition between rival elite families is developed with an emphasized distinction between intense competition in the trade and peaceful - even boring - community life, where matchmaking is the only form of 'hunting' still indulged. Erasure of the production of elite positioning is made in practices that displace attention from the British enclave and its participants' daily lives and preoccupations. This exclusion is made in a deeply spatial way as movement around the Gaia-Douro circuit is provided and controlled by one host firm/family; it is limited to corporate offices, the Factory House, and the Douro quintas. It brings visitors into the places where their hosts apparently take a whole-hearted stand in the world. It invites visitors, obligates them with seductive hospitality, to adopt that point of view. Traveling the Gaia-Douro circuit also discourages visitors from making opportunities to spend time with other participants in the production of port wine and its gentry. In terms of preserving their entitlement to the position they enact, itineraries restricted by their hosts to the Gaia-Douro circuit prevent peripheral participants from moving around in the everyday lives of the port shippers' families in Porto.

34There are undoubtedly more general ideological and political-economic relations that make that other, ‘not real’, not-commercial world seem unimportant to those drawn into the port gentry's 'world'. It must be difficult to question, since intimacy is implied in this shared public 'private life' without calling attention to that other, more private mundane life in the British enclave.

  • 12 This also suggests the elitist attractions of sports metaphors more generally.

35There are still other effects of the process by which port gentry hosts draw others into confirming their entitled way of life, and erase or exclude the effortful and complex processes that help to produce elite succession. When the families portray themselves as engaged – only - with an opponent-other, it is as if a mirror is positioned so that each reflects the other, and as rivals they fill the narrative frame. This surely is one of the attractions of describing family life in terms of a rivalry among equals, a feud.12 Adversaries become the only context for each other, as they portray their lives to visitors as two 'dynasties' in competition. Persuading the unwary to rivet an intense focus on relations between two families is a convenient way to make the rest of the world seem irrelevant.

36At the same time, the emphasis on just the two families, and their feud, is wielded in such a way as to imply that the British enclave is a homogeneous community. 'While they dine together, play cricket together and worship together, out in the real world the British port-wine families are locked in battle.'

37This description, like most points concerning 'the British community' is interestingly inaccurate, in ways that serve interested parties. First, the story names the two 'first families'. A very few others are portrayed as in the second rank; then by extension follow an unnamed number of others of supposedly lesser stature. The whole 'few hundred families' in the British enclave are assumed to be like these, though only their pale imitations. Reciprocally, this implies that families like the Robertsons and Symingtons are 'naturally' entitled, superlative representatives of the colony as a whole. The headline of the article offers an example when it announces that the two families 'control the port trade' - as if the two were all there is of the port-wine trade and the British community.

38The 'real world' in the quotation above is contrasted with community life, which apparently is not real. Such claims are possible in the circuit that links the port firms and Gaia and the quintas in the Douro, but only because they segregate visitors, who never come in to contact with the heterogeneous fractions and really conflictual politics of the British enclave. Further, in the enclave in Porto there may be a brisk exchange of dinner invitations between families within a given social fraction, but even the port gentry families are divided between Anglicans and Catholics. Symingtons are Catholics, while many other port gentry families are Anglicans. An admission of religious differences among the elite would establish that there is deep social, cultural heterogeneity among them, and would lay 'the feud' open to harsher connotations than a joust among (co-worshipping) co-equals. But, finally - an issue that is probably of greater concern to the port families - an admission that some are Catholic would suggest the possibility of a fatal Portuguesization.

39Which brings us to that other major context-stripping aspect of the Gaia-Douro circuit, the erasure of Portugal, the land in which they live, where their ancestors resided for some generations and where their lives in every aspect depend on Portuguese people, labour, practices of port production, and other connections too numerous to mention. Indeed, although the article's author inexplicably claims that, 'Were it not for the Portuguese terracotta roofs and cobbled streets, members of the oldest British outpost in Europe could fancy themselves back in London', the myriad crucial ways in which life for the Brits in Porto is dependent on and enabled by Portuguese persons, relationships and institutions is never mentioned. How do the elite port families erase Portugal from 'their' story? 'Unsurprisingly for a small, isolated community where until recently the only way home was by boat, many British port traders have married into each other's families.'

  • 13 In the first long quote from The Sunday Times (above p. 3), Portuguese men (on motorcycles) are cha (...)

40'Home' is England, not Portugal, and that they are 'isolated' implies a segregated enclave life within Portuguese society. Indeed, perhaps this accounts for the emphasis in the article on matchmaking as a preoccupation of British women. The story does not offer an explanation, however, for the matchmaking or for sending their children to public schools in England. 'Topping up British blood,' and 'sending their daughters to England to look for husbands', as those quoted in the story describe their practices and intentions, convey a fear of assimilating, or fear that others in the community might fracture or blur its national gate-keeping 'standards' by becoming Portuguese and ceasing to be British.13 Perhaps most startling in this respect is their cultivation of 'execrable Portuguese', which effectively protects them from being mistaken for Portuguese.

41There is another literal form of erasure of Portugal tucked into a paragraph introducing the Douro valley, where the demarcated zone of port production lies.

The families spend most weekends during summer [untrue - it's too hot] at their wine estates in the Douro valley. It is 80 miles east of Oporto, and the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It is here that the grapes are grown, the terraces bulldozed out of impossibly steep granite cliffs over which eagles circle. One of the most silent places on earth for most of the year, during harvest time in late September the hills echo with voices of hundreds of pickers. (Italics mine.)

42The disappearance of Portugal from this description of port gentry family life is deft. Almost all those 'bulldozed terraces' were actually hand-hewn by Portuguese and Spanish vineyard workers over many generations. Is there really nobody there but the Brits and 'their' estates until harvest time? Not so. This may be a useful image in portraying them as lords of all they see, bolstered by references to migrant wage labourers as 'peasants'. But in fact the population of the Douro consists of between three to five hundred thousand Portuguese residents, who own much the greater part of the land, and who are occasionally known to raise their voices, pick up their guns, gun their pick-ups, and of course dwell among and labour in their vineyards.

43On the other hand, Portuguese children in Porto are pictured sitting on the wall of the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. The image is very colonial and complete nonsense - it is a middle-class neighbourhood, there's nothing to watch. The implication is that Portugal, outside the British enclave, is a Third World country.

44Family members' quoted opinions about the Portuguese are effortlessly rude, intended to establish social and cultural chasms between Brits and their host country (reassuring themselves that no visitor might plausibly suspect them to have 'degenerated' into lives more Portuguese than British). There is another quotation in the article, this time from Penny Symington, the wife of James, the paterfamilias of the Symington Group. Deriding the inconsiderate behaviour of the Taylors' guests to exhausted grape-pickers at the end of a long day, she says 'There is a huge disparity between the way we live and the vineyard workers. One resisted having a pool at all for a long time because one doesn't feel good swimming and lounging while peasants are labouring in 38° heat.'

45The particular decontextualizations produced by the port gentry matter: no Portuguese life or labour, and scarcely even Portugal. No heterogeneous British community. Concealed dependencies on Portuguese and British 'others' displace attention from the British enclave and their strenuous efforts to produce their own succession. Exclusivity takes on new meaning here - not simply as a matter of snubbing people or denying them access to some social club, but by denying that the practices and processes of their production involve anyone but themselves.

Conflating Categories, Blurring Boundaries

46Claims to ownership of history, landed estates, merchant houses, and the status associated with different brands of port wine lend glamour, wealth, and entitlement to the port gentry. Appearing effortlessly entitled is not all and only a matter of decontextualization, then, but often also its opposite. That project is advanced by invoking as their own riches of lineage, tradition and history that may or may not 'belong' to the families. For instance, the article headlines 'dynasties who have controlled the port industry since the 17th century' and, in the article, 'little... has changed in 300 years'. These claims wield magical influence without requiring historical justification: 'Three hundred years'? 'Unchanging since the seventeenth century?' 'Dynasties?' Port wine was not produced in its present form, was not fortified nor made into a wine akin to contemporary port, until 1840. Of what relevance is it to the wine or the families that Peter Bearsley travelled the Douro in 1727? And if this tenuous ancestor did not get there until then, why date 'Taylors' back to 1692? Further, 'the dynasties who have controlled the port industry since the 17th century' could not include the Symingtons, who did not come to Porto until 1882 (as the article confirms, without drawing attention to the discrepancy). And more generally, the very idea of a port dynasty of three hundred years is meaningless, since the history of any of the port firms has involved frequent shifting partnerships, forms of business organization and participants' families. The complex histories of these families and firms and of the changing trade do not inform today's families' claims on founders' privileges, which surely assume continuity of something substantial across all those generations.

47We must ask which histories count for whom. Visitors do not hear disputed the common story of 'founders' and 'centuries of common tradition' in the lodges in Gaia nor in the quintas in the Douro. Residents in the British enclave are also ignorant of its history. Claims to hundreds of years of connection deep into the past of the trade hold up well - where access to contrary evidence is not easily available, especially in a community that makes a mini-industry of producing congratulatory Whig histories for and about itself.

48Port gentry families have not owned land until recently, and own very little now. Yet they portray themselves as the owners of country estates,'...other English merchants became shippers, building lodges in Gaia and acquiring large stocks of wine, and eventually their own vineyards' (Italics mine.)

49'The families (we lose sight of workers, journalists, wine buyers, and other clients) spend most weekends during summer at their wine estates in the Douro valley.' The possessive 'their' is massively misleading. In addition to the fact that they have every reason for, and long traditions of, not owning land in the Douro - leaving the fluctuating risks of climate and crop to the Portuguese vineyard-keepers - most do not own 'Their' quinta guest 'houses' either. Almost all are owned by multinational corporations, certainly the quintas to which commercial/publicist 'guests' are invited. In fact there is a whole cottage industry in mystifying who owns what.

  • 14 These terms of exaggerated intimacy with the Symington and Robertson families are not in common use (...)

50The port scions present themselves to visitors by creating a sort of a publicly 'private' life, a seductive social accomplishment, in which visitors are invited to participate as guests at the 'homes' of the port 'families', and learn to talk of 'the Syms' and the 'Taylors'.14 But in fact during quinta weekends the port families are 'on' as representatives of their firms, re-creating a way of life, a sort of 'natural habitat' for the convivial imbibing (and selling) of port wine. The location and practice of private life in Porto is not accessible from the public practice, that disjunction being a key facet of their elite decontextualization.

51Somehow the Syms and Taylors further manage to persuade the visitor of their privileged place among the British port families on the basis of claims to the unparalleled nobility of their wines: the names of brands of port wine, elite families and major 'British' port firms are constantly conflated, so that each is employed as if it stood for an alignment of all three, drawing parallels between a hierarchy of families and a hierarchy of port wines: 'Taylor's is the oldest family firm... and the brand name is so strong that all the clan members are referred to as Taylors. It dates back to 1692 and produces some of the world's finest vintage ports. Alistair took over in 1967 at the death of his uncle Dick.'

52It may well be that no one was knowledgeable enough to explain to the journalist that Joseph Taylor bought the firm in 1823 when he was a junior partner in Campbell, Bowden and Gray. The latter went bankrupt, and sold him their stock at 10 milreis the pipe (at a time when the going price in Gaia was around 120 milreis) (Duguid and Lopes, forthcoming).

53Although the Symington family name never appears on a bottle, they are the largest port dynasty and produce familiar brands such as Graham's, Warre's, and Dow's (firms named for old port merchant families, before they were bought out by Symingtons). Yet the Symingtons insist that they are the only real 'family company'. This skirts the issue of what that might mean, and the issue that in fact they have never been a family firm, but rather a (mostly) privately-owned holding company whose direction is in family hands.

Seated around these two often explosive epicentres are members of all the big families of port familiar from bottle labels: Delaforce, Sandeman and Croft.

Their names are written on the roofs of the lodges across the river at Vila Nova da Gaia, where the barrels are maturing, as they have ever since the British first began shipping port 300 years ago. (The Sunday Times Aug. 1997:95)

54Conflating the names of families, firms, and brands of wine is not only a project of a few fortunate families. Everything possible is done in Gaia to mask the multinational ownership that has overtaken earlier 'family firms'. Banners along the Quai in Gaia advertise the port 'houses', playing on the relations among family names, familiar port brand names, and the notion of ancient, traditional family vintners. '[W] lien flagging port sales forced them to sell out to multinationals... many family members stayed on: the famous surname and family history is good for sales.'

55In the end, given that it is part of their job to entertain visitors in order to sell port wine, free ratification in the British media for themselves as old British family dynasties in a colony in Portugal is also free advertising for the multinational corporations. This is of course another conflation of family and firm. They are at one with their multinational corporate bosses in selling port by selling themselves as exemplars of the life-style of the rich and the upper class.

56There are, then, three dense points of mystification in which the families impersonate, borrow, or appropriate the trappings of upper-class life. They conflate their family position, wealth and home with the quintas and guest houses, staff and entertainment budgets of the multinational corporations who own the port 'houses'. They appear to be 'landed wine gentry' even without significant land or vineyards. Further, the notion that it is possible, especially through that commodified notion of the 'brand name', to conflate families, port wines, and port firms, further conflated as port 'houses', does to family reputation what the quintas do to apparent established wealth. The upper-class base and way of life they assume (double meaning-take on, expect) depends upon erasure and/or conflation of divisions that depend on and conventionally reflect political-economic, legal and social distinctions between families, family firms, multinational corporations, landowners, homes/houses and more. Where the erasure and conflation occurs may well be in the hearts and minds of family members, in their habits of dwelling in and occupation of corporate guest houses that may once have belonged to their families and 'feel like home'. It occurs with the collusion of the firms, and/or as the managers simply assume them as perks of their jobs (as well as being part of their job descriptions). But the line is also erased with art and contrivance to advance the personal claims of these families to embody the essence of the local British community.

57When, without calling attention to it, their common histories conflate Portuguese, port gentry and multinational ownership of vineyards, confound 'old port family' and corporate ownership of guest lodges, and further conflate family, firm and vintage port, there is surely a case being made for the aristocratic nature of the port 'dynasties'. Talk of family tradition, history and ritual, landed estates, country weekends and famous names of famous quality bring such a story together.

58But further, I think they are portraying themselves, as an elite of a certain vintage, a colonial elite, not much changed since the turn of the century. They portray themselves as displaced in time to the heyday of empire, in which many of the port community's anchoring conceits are stuck, as a device for purveying nostalgia for the 'good' old days of empire. The sort of gentry they are is being displaced towards a not-too-distant past, as a metaphor for, or confusion with, their displacement in space (not too far from England, but provincial, a colony, as well as a colonizing presence in Portugal; a rural aristocracy because removed from metropolitan Great Britain, but further, because removed to country estates.) Also, the notion that the gentry build their great houses in the country historically distinguished the British upper classes from those of the Southern European gentry (for instance in Italy, Spain and Portugal) who located their mansions in cities. This may be another way the port gentry affirm that they are emphatically British and emphatically not Portuguese. So, if the author mocks them gently throughout her telling of this story, underlining their slightly quaint and provincial ways, it may well be that the Brits in question do not mind: they want to appear rather 'old world' in both senses-it is (heir market niche.

The Porto Circuit: Labour, Preparation and Political Struggle

59Within the British enclave in Porto, we will see not only some of the practices that the Gaia-Douro circuit excludes - most of the conditions of possibility for elite positioning in the community - but also the challenges to the 'old port families" community identity, institutional practices and personal trajectories that follow inevitably from the heterogeneous character of the enclave. For, despite long-standing differences, port gentry families combine forces when seriously threatened, in order to sustain the community identity, its institutional underpinnings and the privileged personal trajectories this implies for their families. This may help to explain why Peter Cobb remarks that his worst enemies in the trade are also his best friends.

60Dilemmas in the British enclave in Porto are in some respects complementary to those of the Gaia-Douro circuit. The port gentry lead more robustly unreified everyday lives, but their entitlement is more vulnerable because the work of producing it is more visible and more strongly challengeable. There are also greater possibilities of running into a harder-edged reality, possibly in the guise of their own children, and finding themselves confronted or ignored as ghosts of a world gone by.

The British Enclave in Porto

61Contrary to the vista of Porto from the distant Douro, the Porto enclave circuit, with its school, church and social club, and the heterogeneous fractions that compose the community, is only partly enmeshed in the port-wine trade. It could also come as a surprise, given the exclusive focus on the Gaia-Douro circuit to this point, that Porto is the major industrial city of Portugal, with a population of over a million. If there is a 'little corner of Portugal forever England', it is not the city as a whole. There is a small area of the city in which the British port-shipping (and other) families in the nineteenth century located their church and graveyard and their social club, and a neighbourhood, Foz de Douro, along the ocean at the mouth of the Rio Douro, where a number of British families lived and where they eventually located the Oporto British School. But this neither was, nor is, a literal enclave. Rather, there is a thin scattering of British people and activities across a dense Portuguese city. Some still live in Foz. Most British families in Porto live elsewhere than in the nineteenth-century locations identified with the British. It is their patterns of association with each other, and self-segregation from their Portuguese neighbours and colleagues, that give the word 'enclave' meaning today.

62The British in Porto arrange their lives so as to live principally in relation with each other, in a yearly round of community activities. Some of those families have names, and a few have occupations associated with the port trade. Many British live in Porto for other reasons. Some Portuguese families send their children to the Oporto British School (OBS), where a majority of the pupils are at present Portuguese. A number of Portuguese families are members of the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. Probably all Brits in Porto are aware that the enclave has a portentous history. All versions of the story woven so often and effectively into public trade relations and the Gaia-Douro circuit give the British colony in Porto a unique identity as 'the 300-year-old port-wine shipping colony'. They know who is and is not invited to parties at the Factory House. At the same time, very few Brits in Porto know much about economic transformations in the port-wine lodges in Vila Nova da Gaia.

63Claims to legitimate succession are established in part through participation in institutions that mediate between personal and community identities. The Factory House is a crucial case in point. The Oporto British School (OBS) is another, though it mediates community and participant identities in quite different terms. It is one of the main institutions that ground everyday assumptions that there is a British community in Porto. Just about everyone born in the enclave has gone to the Oporto British School. Attending the school is a step in producing new members for all groups within the community. The OBS serves the elementary needs of most families in the community for primary schooling conducted in English. But its history and present priorities make it principally a feeder school for British public boarding schools. As such it has played a significant part in the production of British 'gentlemen' in Porto: it had its origins in the heyday of empire at the end of the nineteenth century, and has been implicated in the production of Britishness for families that have resided for several generations in Porto. The OBS provides an institutional trajectory that flings the children of port gentry with fair automaticity from Porto into the UK for formative years in public schools that inculcate British culture and stances on class, gender and nationalism/racism along with a forgiving admiration for their class-cultural credentials. Finding spouses to 'bring back', many return to take up life as well-off British gents (and ladies) for yet another generation. Both education and marriage strategies seem to ratify the natural entitlement of the existing elite port families.

64Another such site, but of less broad importance to the enclave as a whole, is St James's Anglican Church. It was built in 1818 after years of conflict with the Inquisition and other authorities in Portugal. This church was designed from the plans for the Factory House ballroom, and was required by the Portuguese Catholic authorities to have a high wall around it so as not to be visible from the street (Delaforce 1982). The church holds many concrete reminders of families with a history in the port trade - names on tombstones and pews, members who insist on sitting in their family pews, plaques on the walls in memory of those who died in two world wars, and stained glass windows dedicated to deceased family members. Port wine is served after services each week during a hospitality hour. The congregation these days is small, never filling the small church. But the same people show up at the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club, where Church Ladies' Guild meetings and Annual General Meetings of the school and the church congregation are held. The port families' lives as well as those of other British residents in Porto are interwoven on a dense basis across these institutions.

65The Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club is yet another community institution deeply involved in sustaining the enclave and in preparing succession among elite families. It is a private club with a large lounge, a formal dining-room, bar, lunch-room, guest-rooms, terrace, swimming pool and cricket pitch, hidden from the street, accessible only via a long driveway. Il has a staff of a dozen almost entirely (English-speaking) Portuguese, with a membership committee (who must vote on new members nominated by existing members) and a governing board elected from the membership. These committees are dominated by the port gently and other pillars of the community. Children meet their friends there. Young couples socialize at the Club, the new mothers' exercise group meets there several mornings a week, those with young children pick them up at the OBS at noon and come by the Club for lunch, and people meet for drinks at the end of the day, and sometimes arrange for a table in the dining-room, especially popular for family gatherings on Sunday after church. There is a yearly round of 'traditional' balls, parties, tennis and other sports competitions, and groups that meet regularly, including the Church Ladies' Guild, bridge groups, a quilting group and in some years the Douro Players or the local singing group. The Club is the centre of family social interaction and leisure activities for all those Brits in Porto who prefer to socialize with each other. Without it, I have heard teenage girls say, they would have no social life in Porto. As in the OBS, the Portuguese members, safely categorized as affiliate members, are suffered, indeed must be suffered, for they make vital contributions to the finances of the Club.

66The British school, club and church, along with the Factory House, are the most central institutions for sustaining an identity as a community. They are the principal sites of institutional trajectories that pre-serve the port gentry families. But there are other community institutions that round out this picture of the enclave. There is a local branch of the worldwide British Council in Porto, with an English-language library, a roster of English language courses, occasional British cultural events, and a small British staff. There is an unusual British Consulate - situated in a huge house and gardens donated by an old port gentry family for this purpose some years ago. The Consulate is privately supported by the community, and would not exist otherwise. This too is a source of pride and identity, not to mention invitation-only garden parties, Queen's birthday celebrations, and receptions (and increasingly mundane efforts to advertise British products exported to and imported from Porto). There were until mid-century a British Hospital and a British Golf Club maintained by the British in Porto, now disbanded. The latter was given up by the British when they lost control of it to its Portuguese members.

Social Fractions

  • 15 Discussion of the Factory House earlier pointed to long-held principles of exclusion that still ope (...)

67The significantly differing social/cultural/political economic groups that compose the British enclave in Porto include, besides the port gentry, their near supporters the dignified and responsible Pillars of the Community. They include peripheral and poor British residents of Porto, Anglophile well-to-do Portuguese families, and corporate managers out from Great Britain on three-year contracts, supervising production in enterprises owned by multinationals. The social fractions are divided by their deep political-economic differences, arrayed in a social hierarchy by nationality that cultivates distinctions in radicalized terms and in a gender hierarchy made in relation with the other two.15 These translate into different stakes, desires, and positioning with respect to the structure, power, resources and everyday practices in each of the community's institutions concerned with processes of succession (principally the OBS, the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club and St James's Anglican Church).

68Port gentry represent a certain version of the community's identity. They are a living instantiation of it. That 'living' is what they do-they inhabit an elite circle within a foreign enclave that views its national roots, and the growth and development of its wines, commerce and culture in Northern Portugal, as superior to those achieved by its host country. The Factory House roster and exclusive practices underwrite the port gentry families who form the social apex of the enclave. They consider the enclave, the church, the school and the club to be 'theirs', accept the deference that their positioning commands, appear glamorous in their careless focus on each other coupled with their dismissal of, or a marked courtesy to, 'the rest'. They represent the enclave to visiting dignitaries and Portuguese high officials, and act as stewards and decision-makers for social institutions that pre-serve the community-and its elite families. They are the arbiters of who is socially 'in', informally in their several generations, and quite formally, as the Factory House is accepted within the enclave as the site of high social selection.

69Portuguese families who applied to the OBS were given a cold reception until about 1960. Even then they were told without apology of a quota system so arranged that only after all British children were accepted would places be selectively made available for Portuguese children. Should a very fundamental issue concerning School property arise at the Annual General Meeting, only British members of the School can vote. Lunching often at the Club, it would be difficult not to notice that British members occupy the desirable tables next to the windows; Portuguese families sit quietly in the inner row. British members hop from table to table talking with friends and family, but only to tables with British lunchers. The membership roll of the Club is divided into members (British) and Associates (divided further into 'other nationalities' and 'Portuguese'). The distinction is more serious than its connotations of less than full membership; Associates pay equal dues, but do not have voting privileges in the most serious decisions affecting the governance of the Club.

70Given the exclusionary habits in the enclave, it might seem surprising that Portuguese families are allowed in the School and the Club at all. But without the participation of the Portuguese members, neither institution could survive financially. So there is polite toleration along with visible exclusion exercised by the British. This picture of the British families confirms the view that this is not a community self-sufficient enough to continue to close its doors to the 'native' population around it literally. The picture is a more complex one, of mild seduction and firm rejection, of conditional invitations followed by renewed distinctions.

71If Portuguese families are merely tolerated, there are more subtle ways in which other participants in the British enclave (defined in terms of its spaces, organizations, and activities) are to be found in its social hierarchy between the most prominent and sought-after families and the Portuguese. Two further categories of the unequal, both British, include 'pillars' (my term) and 'manager families on contract'. The pillars include high-level managers for British companies in and around Porto who, along with their wives and children, are British citizens. Some have lived elsewhere in British expatriate enclaves, having moved to Porto from Southern Africa or some other part of the British (or Portuguese) empire where their companies have plants or offices. They expect to stay in Porto until they retire or even for the rest of their lives. In several cases mentioned earlier (for example Bain, Burnett, Orr, Reader, Sinclair) the pillars have worked in managerial capacities in port firms and are members of the Factory House, but have arrived too recently to qualify as port gentry. Unequal gender relations, frequently justified in terms of traditions of excluding women from the Factory House, create another sort of pillar: the wives of port gentry - port wives, as they are known. The pillars, men and women, are respected in part because of their positions and long-term residence, in part because they are notable for their hard work on behalf of the community. The men are to be found on governing boards of community institutions, often as the secretary or the treasurer; responsible for the organization of a major community event (such as the recent centenary celebration of the OBS) or on the hiring committee to choose a new headmaster or Anglican priest. The labour they put in is necessary to establish a substantial position in the community. Both women and men are pillars of the community in one further sense as well. They defend the enclave as a venerable and very special one, whose current generation of influential port families carries the history and the spirit of the community, and whose desire that life should not change, or at least neither rapidly nor radically, is fully justified and appropriate. They defend the port gentry and their agenda against the families of British managers of multi-nationally-owned industrial enterprises in Porto.

72The managers, on three-year contracts, are on average a bit younger than the pillars. The manager families are seen by port families and pillars as troublemakers. By definition, this would include anyone making suggestions about changes in the community who has not established long residence and contributions of labour to community activities. As old port family members and pillars characterize them, stereotypically, they sweep in and want to change things without any respect for those who have made the community what it is today and are responsible for it. Then they leave. Those who stay steadily on have to pick up the pieces and deal with the inevitably negative consequences of the 'thoughtless dissatisfaction' of short-term residents.

73In sum, the old families exclude others, and pillars assist in this endeavour. Expatriate men in particular take a good deal of prestige from their association with the old families, and translate for them. In speaking on their behalf they sometimes appear to be of them, and the line is especially blurred for managers elected to the Factory House. Highly respectable British men do much of the community's 'executive' work, and their pillar wives do much of the 'other' work of institutional maintenance. The Portuguese, excluded within the community, remain a puzzle. It seems likely that it is in their relations with Portuguese families that are not members of the Club and do not send their children to the OBS that the advantages of their commitments come into play, by a sort of contagion of British 'cultural superiority'. In short, the British families who claim kinship in the port trade do not maintain the social superiority of their position by themselves. The Portuguese finance it as do the others, including manager families on contract; the pillars defend them, and the manager families on contract give service to the community, seek friends in it, send their children to the OBS, attend Church, and depend on the Club for their social life.

Battles over Institutions, Identities and Futures

74Along with church and club the school offers one example of just what hard work it takes to sustain long processes of family succession. This school has taken leadership to produce; it produces leaders (whose responsibilities and privileges eventually involve governing the school) in an involuted process aimed at (apparently) self-sustained reproduction. To maintain continued succession among a small group of families takes ingenuity, implicit alliances, and of course many changes. To do so in the face of tensions and differentiations within the port enclave takes a certain ruthless political concentration. It requires the partial inclusion of many in order to secure their exclusion from succession to elite positioning within the colony. The School Charter of 1894 begins, First Resolution re: Scholars, Clause I: ‘That the School be exclusively for British subjects [meaning boys] of the age of six years and upwards provided they can read and write.'

75As late as 1989 the First Article of the OBS Charter simply copies a declaration brought along through many official revisions of the Charter:

The Oporto British School is an educational association, formed by the members whose names appear in the corresponding register and whose object is to maintain a school to administer instruction and education to the children of British subjects, in order to prepare them for the entrance examinations to British schools, up to the 13 plus level.
The principal, after consultation with the Board of Governors, may accept nonBritish pupils as long as the number of pupils from countries where the common language is not English does not prejudice the normal school programme.

76When it opened, the OBS included families with surnames like Robertson, Standring, Rawes, Milne, Flower, Mason, Cassels, Ennor, Tait, Wright, Rumsey, Turner, Thom, Walker, and Vivian. Girls may have attended during the First World War; but there was an indefinite hiatus until they were again admitted in the early 1930s. The pupils at this time numbered around fifty, meeting in a house in Foz that is still part of the School.

77How the families that started the school acquired the house and land is not entirely clear. School charters always have referred to the School as the property of the British community of Porto, and the steadily increasing property and physical plant of the School have been paid for by student fees, loans, and substantial contributions from companies in Porto-the majority of them port firms. With its ownership undefined, the school itself acts as a concrete reification of 'the community' that would (in fact it recently did, momentarily) come apart were rights to property ownership ever brought under discussion with the intention of clarifying membership. This may be one of its strengths as a kind of social glue.

78Notable about this whole process is the incredible amount of effort, worry, work and struggle it has taken just to keep the School (and club and church) alive. It has been perennially difficult to find and keep teachers, bring them 'out from England', and then persuade community wives to step in at the last minute when new arrivals fled back to England without giving notice. There have been repeated efforts to designate and furnish school materials and school uniforms. There have been fights over raising school fees, subscriptions for building, building itself, dealing with more or fewer children as economic and political fortunes waxed and waned, and fights to hire and fire headmasters. The school committee even struggled to rationalize school management and cede day-to-day power to the School Head, create a Bursar, etc. But they were unable to withdraw even so, by their own account. All this before we even start to consider fights about the organization and mission of the school.

79The School governing committee always involved, among others, those scions of the port firms described in the common narrative of 'the old British port enclave', including Robertsons and Symingtons galore, as well as Cobbs, Delaforces, Guimaraens, Reids and others. Port scions and their wives “two female members” became a by-law of the Board's standing rules in the late 1950s) have been major contributors of labour. The Finance Committee has long been composed of three men, virtually all port firm pillars, and the treasurer was for many years, the Controller at Sandeman's.

80Seeing to it that their own children, above all, are adequately prepared to take the Common Entrance Examination at the age of thirteen and gain placements in British public schools has been the principal mission of the school's port gentry-stacked school governing committee. But the school has much more complex social tasks. It supports similar trajectories of children of the pillars. It must sustain the trajectories of Portuguese children (who will leave to attend Portuguese schools at thirteen), poor Brits, and British managers' children. They will succeed and fail, be included and excluded in particular ways, all of which is very important for those becoming port gentry in Porto as well.

81The school must address the needs of a heterogeneous set of class and national fractions within the community because it is engaged in fixing them all in their places (as they fix themselves). The issue here is how struggles and fights, in the school and about the school, sustain and defend the port wine gentry and the present identity of the enclave, and how the school and the fights together generate other paths of succession besides those of the port gentry families.

82Schools here, as elsewhere, are political arenas. The OBS is a dense transfer point of power between community identity and its embodiment in elite persons. And in the community, in the middle of the OBS schoolyard, at, yes, the central tables for the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the school, we find a table full of young Symingtons, and another of Robertsons and their guests. They are the focus of admiring, longing glances from those present but excluded by their easy possession of those desirable tables, selves, the occasion, the school, and with these the continuing identity of the British enclave.

83Their apparently effortless entitlement at such moments is not, of course. The excluded have visions of their own. Battles over the OBS are ongoing. These are struggles to strengthen or dismantle, transform or reserve to new social fractions, a defining social position in the divided, heterogeneous British enclave. The different fractions in the enclave all have serious stakes for themselves and their children in the OBS and the community it serves, and they cannot all prevail. All fractions are reserving and re-serving ways of life, some local, some not.

84Who challenges families such as the Symingtons and Robertsons, and how? Where do they find allies in major battles? Two fights over the future direction of the OBS since 1996 provide a basis for addressing these questions. First, the port gentry families have a stake in keeping the OBS focused on its mission as a prep school for their children, but, as with the club, they cannot afford to do this on their own. The Portuguese families who send their children to the OBS favour the prep school aspirations of the port gentry families. They are seeking British class culture for their children, and care enough about it to submit to the hierarchical and prejudicial policies of the school. Relations of the port gentry with Portuguese participants in the enclave are rather like their relations with the multinational firms. In both cases, even though in some sense at their expense, the others need the Brits to purvey a high-class glamour and to convey a certain British class culture. On the other hand, the middle-class managers recently come from Great Britain, thoughtlessly confident in their British identity by comparison with the 'old British' and soon to move on to some other country, fight to focus the OBS on the International Baccalaureate Degree. This high-school degree program, originating in Switzerland, has a standard curriculum all over the world. In order to receive accreditation, schools adopting the curriculum must put expensive resources into books, laboratories, teachers and advanced high school level courses. The advantage for the multinational managers would be a high-quality international school in Porto, with full courses to the age of eighteen, and the possibility of a smooth transition for their children to similar schools in other countries. They are joined by poorer Brits in Porto, some of them long-term residents (for instance missionaries), who cannot afford to send their children to England to school.

85The governing committee instituted the IB programme a few years ago, under the auspices of a very capable headmaster with high intellectual standards. But it was swept aside as the headmaster was fired, and with the school in financial as well as social crisis in 1996 attempts were made to sell the school to the British Council. Here the traditional Portuguese families, the port gentry and their loyal supporters, the pillars, fought together to prevent the 'loss of identity' (and control) that would follow. They were victorious. On their agreeing to erase the School debt, the OBS governing committee was handed over to a younger generation of port gentry men, more conservative even than their fathers. A moment of succession. What appeared a few years earlier as the political-economic writing on the wall, the fall of the port family dynasties and with them the British community as 'the old port enclave', was for the time being firmly repelled in the interests of the port gentry.

  • 16 The pervasive derogation of persons and things Portuguese at the OBS includes quotas for Portuguese (...)

86There is a second struggle over British schooling in Porto that engages and reflects other tensions in the community, as a new international school has appeared in Foz: the Colegio Luso-Internacional do Porto (CLIP), drawing influential and skilled teachers away from the OBS, and pointedly promising a British but non-racist education.16 CLIP was started by a group of American-educated Portuguese MBAs who represent a newly wealthy and influential business class in Porto, perhaps indifferent to the class-cultural charms and demands of the port gentry and the British enclave. CLIP offers something new to long-term residents: a means of exit from the shadow of the Factory House, from the British port-gentry-dominated enclave in Porto. If Portuguese families and multinational managers join in moving their children to CLIP, the OBS dedication to the prep school preparation of children who are to take their places in the 'long unbroken' succession to British hegemony in the enclave in Porto would surely dissolve.

87How do the port gentry families succeed, at present, in defending their position? What strategic resources of power and control do 'old port families' employ in re-serving their stakes in community identity, institutional practices and personal trajectories? Conflation of firm with family - the sina qua non of the Factory House - is involved in the enclave as well as in the Gaia-Douro circuit, but in the opposite direction. Rather than injecting family into a well-disguised work setting (the port houses, the quinta weekends), the institutional practices of everyday life in Porto inject the firms into the family life of their employees. In the enclave those in charge of community events routinely appeal to the port firms for donations, for folding chairs and school loans, and for quantities of port wine to drink, auction, give away, or serve after church. More impressive still, the port firms employ those who work on the school governing committee, and the school controller, all of whom give their time-consuming services 'for free'. Over the years there have been a number of offers to the OBS of large loans by the port gentry families at times of major financial difficulties, conditional on direct control over the school. They and the port firms (including the Catholic Symingtons) make substantial contributions to the Anglican church. The port families have long controlled the changing formal organization of the OBS governing board, and the church and Club boards as well. They work very hard to keep these institutions of succession working as they want them. As a last resort, there is an informal, misleadingly-named organization called Friends of the School, made up of Robertsons, Symingtons and a few other familiar families, who gather to plan strategies for controlling critical votes that affect the future of succession processes in the enclave. Finally, when absolutely necessary, as in the battles described above, they make reluctant concessions to poorer Brits, contract managers and traditional Portuguese families (Lave 1999).

88The Sunday Times emphasizes the consuming competition between port families/houses, and repeatedly quotes port-wives on how boring life is in the British enclave. The latter is cast in peaceful contrast to the 'real world' of men feuding over wine. But in ethnographic terms this perspective is reversed. With respect to family success and succession it is the enclave, not wine competition, that looks the bloodier battlefield.

Conclusions: The Dilemmas of Fetishism and Ghosthood

89It may seem odd to emphasize the robust hard work of the port gentry families with respect to their succession and successors in the British enclave, and at the same time argue that they are caught in dilemmas that leave them as if disembodied spirits, or echoes of a dead past. But the mundane labour and political tensions involved in sustaining the British enclave don't leave much room for self-reification of their effortless elite entitlement. In the Gaia-Douro they come recklessly close to taking themselves to be whom they fashion themselves to be. In the British enclave they are fighting in practical terms to hold on to who they have been, in part by concealing who they are (for example, as Friends of the School). There is something more sober and anxiety-producing about this direct engagement that makes self-commodification more difficult, perhaps inappropriate. Ratification by others in the enclave might be more reassuring to the port gentry than the admiration (and published mystifications) of visitors and clients in the Gaia-Douro circuit. The danger is that instead of confirmation of their position as old port gentry by others in the heterogeneous community, they may run into evidence that their port gentry market niche is a social anachronism. The Gaia-Douro's fetish-object may be the British enclave's ghost. This is the crack that the segregation of their lives between quinta and enclave papers over.

90Fading away? There are declining numbers of families like themselves and fewer resources for pursuing pride of place and position. They live and lead the enclave in a pond that has shrunk to include fewer bourgeois peers in the city of Porto and made them more dependent on clients and other resources of their firms. They have helped reduce their social relevance further by their exclusionary habits. They may suffer the same fate as Colonial Williamsburg, becoming an outdoor museum of port houses in Gaia (West 1985). Possibly, the companies may be sold off by the multinationals, who have already transferred many of their functions away from Porto. It is not impossible that the trade will be reduced to one Portuguese and one British port company. The men face the 'end of an era' danger of being retired and not succeeded by their sons, but replaced by Portuguese managers with MBA degrees from the US and UK like those that founded CLIP. The CLIP offers, for the first time, a means for several of the heterogeneous local groups of British and Portuguese families to exit from the field of play established by and for the port gentry.

91The Port Gentry face other sorts of anxieties besides the 'end of an era' arguments. They may fear being 'found out' historically, as they have made claims about past continuities that in most cases won't stand scrutiny. They fear being mistaken for - or becoming - Portuguese. This must be fed by fears (exacerbated by the presence of contract managers) that they may no longer be authentically British. The claim to long British pedigree - the most basic premise of narratives of 300 years of unbroken succession - conflicts uncertainly with the common recognition that today they are 'more British than the British' (Lave 1999). Yet both seem highly desirable. This is one facet of the dilemma of ghosthood. That is the hard work and political battle to keep everyone, including themselves, in their 'proper' places in the old British port wine enclave in Porto also works to place them anachronistically in the larger contexts of contemporary Portugal, Great Britain, the EU and the end of the twentieth century. By doing what they do they hold on to what they have; but doing what they do (having what they have) holds them in something like a turn-of-the century posture. They exercise ways of being British country gentry that can only be reconciled in the present world in the rare contexts where such a version of being British is taken to be the real thing.

92The port gentry emphasize relations between their premier social position in the community with respect to its diverse and less influential members and vintage wines in relation to inferior ports. Entitlement to leadership, which in the port gentry's story flows from the quality of their Rolls Royce ports, in fact is more substantively connected to economic and organizational transformations in the trade, in Portugal and globally.

  • 17 The man who built up and then sold his fried chicken business became a sort of advertising puppet f (...)
  • 18 Port-wives may have known this intimately, if marginally, for much longer than the men.

93The appearance created by the Symingtons, Robertsons and others in the Gaia-Douro circuit of effortless entitlement to their position as portwine gentry is fairly secure, not easily open to challenge in its carefully arranged settings. But the process of producing it is precarious, because its practices of decontextualization and conflation are those by which commodities are produced and fetishized, and because these families' economic history and present location in a different set of economic relations help to make a thin and doubtful line between their (g) hosting performances and their transformation into commodified emblems of port wine. Here lies one of the principal contradictions in the production of their succession. This transformation involves both aspects of commodity fetishism: the erasure of the real social relations of labour embodied in the production of a commodity, and the attribution of social animation to products or objects themselves inert (I am thinking here of the intimacy falsely promised visitors in the Gaia-Douro circuit, the Factory House balls in an otherwise deserted stone monument). The telling and enacting of their entitlement by port gentry can be seen as a work of reification or fetishization. Their practices of decontextualization and rearrangement of boundaries, spatial, proprietary, and categorical, produce the port gentry as effortlessly entitled rather than effortfully produced - in short, as fetish objects. When they act so as to produce themselves as wine gentry, under circumstances in which that is their waged labour, they may easily become part of that which is being sold-what might be called the Colonel Sanders effect.17'Hard selling - self-reification or auto-fetishization - contains the possibility of commanding successful ratification of their elite succession, but also of being transformed into walking advertisements for port wine.18

94The port gentry families find themselves in intimate engagements with changing political economic forces in a contradictory process of producing both their entitlement and their successors. On the one hand, they manage this through self-election, but in circumstances that place them in grave danger of commodification. On the other hand, they engage in the re-production of family succession in ways that place them in serious risk of superannuation. The various practices that create elite succession and its predicaments are not just divided and segregated, they are also interconnected and mutually constitutive. It is only because these processes are segregated in practice, but also only because they operate together, that elite family succession is successful.

95Where in the very uneasy world of the port gentry is it possible for them to resolve their dilemmas and be at ease, at least momentarily? I'd guess it is at moments when they are seated around the luncheon table at the Factory House, telling their stories to journalists, who, like the gentry, have a stake in making them come true.

Notes

1 João de Pina Cabrai and Antónia Pedroso de Lima created an acutely considered problem for their workshop. Wrestling with it has transformed my understanding of the port gentry. I consider this a great gift from two wonderful colleagues. Colleagues and friends Penny Harvey, Jeanette Edwards and Elizabeth Bloomer kindly sent me copies of The Sunday Times article. Many lively conversations with Gill Hart and Ole Dreier helped give shape to the argument. I have enjoyed and learned from years of intellectual interchange with Shawn Parkhurst and Susan Shepler, and I thank them for their serious critical readings of several drafts of the paper. I owe a deep intellectual debt and heart-felt thanks to Paul Duguid, who has read draft after draft, and inspired me with his inspired rereadings.

2 The quotation marks around 'Taylor's' reflect the fact that the family referred to is that of Alastair Robertson, head of Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman. This usage is part of a pattern by which families and firms are onflated in the production of port gentry, as we shall see; but it is not common usage in the British enclave.

3 The production of elite succession, like the production of elite knowledge (Latour and Woolgar 1979), involves processes of exclusion, entitlement, a kind of smoke-and-mirrors claim to self-production, and erasure from public memory of the conditions of that production. This 'decontextualization' raises questions about relations among the politics of knowledge production as elite practice, the production of elites, and the production of knowledge about the privileged and powerful. We need specific strategies of research, therefore, to address exclusionary practices and the power to bring them about. It seems sensible not to confine research to sites where claims to entitlement to elite leadership appear to originate - whether in family business enterprises or family dynasties. Recontextualization of elite practices of succession should involve inquiry in and across multiple settings, and include those of our own choosing (though not of our own making). Second, it seems important to widen the study beyond its elite players. It is helpful to explore the plural character of elite succession, which also produces various kinds of not-elite succession and eliminates others. Third, we need to work at histories of various kinds, resisting self congratulatory family histories, and - what amounts to the same thing in firms - production histories that calibrate time as progress by enumerating improvements in business productions, improvements in quality of products and steady expansion of corporate organizations. Finally, we might do well to hold on to a deep concern about the arte-factual character of our understanding, under circumstances where high stakes and ubiquitous opportunities for practice lead to polished, skilful demonstrations of a particular history or a particular 'private' life for public consumption.

4 I use the term 'circuit' with some hesitation to invoke active travel through complex social terrains and spatial arrangements; to indicate that these travels are often repeated; and to imply that the ruts thus impressed on social life are plural, and in this case only cross in one significant place. Thus together they make a sort of figure 8, with the Gaia-Douro circuit longer in spatial terms, through smaller in temporal terms, but equally important and quite differently implicated in bringing about elite succession in cultural-political terms.

5 After two preliminary field trips to Porto in 1991 and 1992, I spent a year there from August 1993 to August 1994, returning for two months in the summer of 1996. During that time my fieldwork was located in the British enclave in Porto.

6 This inquiry into the sustenance and transformation of British class culture in the centuries-old enclave of port-wine exporters is part of a collaborative anthropological-historical investigation of the port-wine trade and its families, entitled Producing Families, Trading in History: An Ethno-Historical Investigation of the Port Trade of Northern Portugal. The 'port project' began in 1992, involved three scholars focusing respectively on its history (Paul Duguid), especially with regard to crucial changes in the port trade in the period of the Portuguese civil war in the early 1830s, on Portuguese vineyard-keepers in the Douro valley (Shawn Parkhurst) and on British port shippers in Porto (myself). We have been interested since the inception of the project in how to capture generative processes that separate 'family firms' from 'family life'. The port trade 'colony', with its merchant capitalist partnerships and social enclosure, invites that question. We took it to be a theoretical question, one intended to contribute to critical assessments of naturalized 'public' and 'domestic' domains. We intended to inquire into the processes by which they are produced as distinct and separated phenomena. But in the present context I find myself inquiring into techniques of succession in the elite context of core 'old port families' that conflate public and private, family and firm, homes and houses, corporate property and private estates (in public). Unpacking these relations is one way to address relations between family firms and family life.

7 For instance, they elide business practices of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by which firms were owned by partners who actually put up credit to run them, the partnerships shilling and changing practically year by year. The majority of these partnerships bought and sold other goods besides port wine. Complex partnerships make it difficult to establish, often, whether London or Porto was the 'main' office of a firm (Duguid and Lopes, forthcoming). Clerks rose in the ranks and married into their bosses' families, and sometimes became partners themselves. Senior partners 'made in Porto' went back to (beat Britain. This means that roots of contemporary corporations cannot be traced back to precisely comparable eighteenth- and nineteenth-century economic entities. And there was no 'born to' aristocratic fraction that preserved its entitlement through exclusive intermarriage.

8 A Factory House member, John Delaforce produced several volumes of Whig history on the enclave. The principal aim of his book, The Factory House at Oporto: Its Historic Role in the Fort Wine Trade, was to defend the right of the British port firms to its exclusive possession. He ends with a flourish: 'The members are aware of the need to safeguard the character of this historic and unique House, but to ensure this some degree of exclusiveness is unavoidable. Meanwhile, it continues to fulfil the role for which it was originally designed, as the social headquarters of the British Port shippers and as the scene of many functions and entertainments' (Delaforce 1989: 104.) Quotations like this one and his references to '300 years' and 'unbroken presence' must be read as part of the port gentry's self-presentation. I assume, however, that his quotations from Consul Crispin and the British Foreign Office are accurate, even while selected to support his point of view.

9 In November 1831 the Foreign Office wrote, 'It is possible that the Documents which were brought to England in 1807 may contain evidence to prove that the Factory House was a national building to which all His Majesty's subjects are entitled to have access, but in the present state of the information which has been furnished to the Secretary of State, Lord Palmerston is further advised that the claim of the general body of merchants resident in Oporto to free admission into the Factory House is not made out in such a manner as will render it advisable for his Lordship to disturb the parties now in possession' (Delaforce 1989: 43.).

10 Of Dynasty, a soap opera about the super-rich.

11 This view obscures another distinction between Taylor's and Symington's, as the former look down on the latter as parvenus. Thus, in a book celebrating Taylor's ‘300th anniversary’: Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman [...] [is] the only British port firm still totally privately owned... Symington survived the most difficult times after the war by selling 20% of their company to the French group Pernod Ricard... [The Symingtons] were the family that duing [sic] the 1950s and 1960s banked most on the revival of port - perhaps because they were originally traders not port merchants, and even today admit that they are faithful to their trading origins' (Foulkes 1992: 13.)

12 This also suggests the elitist attractions of sports metaphors more generally.

13 In the first long quote from The Sunday Times (above p. 3), Portuguese men (on motorcycles) are characterized as too proletarian to get on comfortably with the port gentry, Portuguese women (who won't lower themselves, literally, to garden) as too aristocratic. This is surely an exotic excuse for exclusion, the more so since it inverts the class/gender conflations of the British speaker, who would no doubt assign himself and other port gentry men a class/gender position superior to that of their wives.

14 These terms of exaggerated intimacy with the Symington and Robertson families are not in common use in the British enclave in Porto, it should be noted.

15 Discussion of the Factory House earlier pointed to long-held principles of exclusion that still operate in specific contemporary ways today: women are not members and are not admitted to the Factory House except on rare social occasions. Non-port merchants cannot belong. Nor can lower-class British in Porto. Portuguese firms are not represented. These distinctions inflect social fractions and practices of exclusion throughout the enclave.

16 The pervasive derogation of persons and things Portuguese at the OBS includes quotas for Portuguese children and no Portuguese head teachers. Portuguese teachers are paid less than their British counter-parts. There is only token Portuguese membership on the school governing committee. Portuguese parents' voting rights at AGMs are restricted and the meetings are conducted in English. Monotonously, School Annual Reports explain that the 'lower accomplishment' by the children must be attributable to poor English on the part of Portuguese children.

17 The man who built up and then sold his fried chicken business became a sort of advertising puppet for the company he previously owned.

18 Port-wives may have known this intimately, if marginally, for much longer than the men.

Auteur

(Ph.D. Harvard) is an anthropologist and Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics, and Culture in Everyday Life (Cambridge, 1988) and, with E. Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Cambridge, 1991). She was recepient of the American Educational Research Association's 1994 Sylvia Scribner Award.

© Etnográfica Press, 2000

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