Airbnb is even in far away rural Tras-os-Montes!

Summer is over, and so are my trips to the north – well, surely I will do some follow-up in the upcoming weeks, but I will not be able to stay as long.

In order to make some sense out the data I collected, I courageously decided to end up the summer with a short presentation at the Royal Geography Society annual conference in London. I say courageously, because I felt quite stupid standing there after such a short time in the project… I was included in a great panel on rural areas and migration, with colleagues working in the field for much longer than me.

My idea was to share a first round of analysis. I decided to map in details of one of the villages I spent time at, and get a full picture of its current occupation. Here is, below, the result. This includes all the houses I could see while walking around.

Contrarily to some of the villages I crossed during one of my first visits, this village is still quite alive. Nine houses hosts permanent residents, who are retired or work in a nearby factory, in cleaning, in care, or in agriculture. Three more houses are former immigrants who have come back permanently.

The village got even more lively during week-ends and in August as immigrants came for a visit; and commuters came to tender to their houses and gardens.

Another reason for movements in the village is the rural lodgings. Six “casas de turismo” were funded, five being active today. One belongs to an immigrant, while the rest belongs to representatives of the “local elite”, that is people from nearby Bragança or Porto who knew about European subsidies supporting tourism-based renovations. They used the money to refurbish traditional homes, that they now rent through Booking, Airbnb or TripAdvisor.

My goal here was to show the connections that the village entertains with various networks, at global, national, regional and local levels. People, money and even objects (one new chair in a rural lodging was brought from the Netherlands) move around and impact the way the place looks.

Discussions I had with residents about their homes described family memories, processes of transformations and of adaptation to new realities, materials, funding and so on.

I warned you, this is still quite shallow. But interviews and images are slowly making their way into Nvivo, and I hope to be able to make more sense of it soon.


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