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OMPETENZNETZ

LATEINAMERIKA

ETHNICITY

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Durante los ltimos dos decenios, el deve~ir


social y cultural en Latinoamrica ha estado marcado por
fenmenos como la migracin laboral de carcter transnacional, el
ascenso de protagonismo poltico por parte de los movimientos indgenas o
las declaraciones constitucionales de multiculturalismo. Desarrollos de este tipo
han arrojado preguntas en torno a las dinmicas de diferenciacin e integracin social,
que la presente recopilacin aborda desde tres ejes temticos de gran potencial interdisciplinario: la etnicidad, la ciudadana y la pertenencia, con un enfoque especial en la significacin del espacio en tales procesos.

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Dunng the last two decades. social and cultural developments in Latin America have been marked
by phenomena like transnationallabour miqration, the rise o political protagonism by indigenous
rnovernents or the constitutional declarations of multiculturalism. These kinds of developments have
raised questions abaut the dynamics of social differentiation and social integratian. The anthology
addresses the concepts ethnicity, citizenship and belonging from three thematie angles with a
great interdisciplinary potential and with a special focus on the importance of space.

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SarahAlbiez (Antropologade lasAmricas),Nelly(astro (FilologaRomnica),LaraJssen(Estudios


Regionalesde Latinoamrica)y EvaYoukhana(Antropologa,Sociologa)sonmiembrosde la Red
de InvestigacinsobreLatinoamricadesdeel 2010.
SarahAlbiez(Anthropologyof the Amencas).NellyCastro(RomanceStudles),
LaraJssen(RegionalStudiesof LatinAmerica)and EvaYoukhana
(Anthropology,Sociology)aremembersof the Research
Network for LatnAmericasince2010.

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Sarah Albiez,
Nelly Castro,
Lara Jssen,

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Eva Youkhana

(eds.)

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ISBN: 978-84-8489-605-0

ETHNICITY, CITIZENSHIP
ANO BELONGING IN
LATIN AMERICA

I I

9"7 8 8 4 8 4 8 9 6 o 5 o

.s:

...

L.U

Sarah Albiez/Nelly Castro/


Series/Coleccin
"Ethriicity, Citizenship and Belonging in Latin America"

This series promotes

an internacional

scientific dialogue about the

social, political and cultural irnplicarions

of rhe concepts

citizenship and beLonging, which serve as conceptual


inrerdisciplinary

etbnicity,

tools for rhe

past and presenc Larin American

and Belonging: Practices,

"

Esta coleccin busca promover


sobre las implicaciones

el dilogocientfico

Etnicidad, ciudadana
e internacional

sociales, polticas y culturales

de los tres

concepcos etnicidad, ciudadana y pertenencia que constituyen


la Red de Investigacin

Theory and Spatial Dimensions

societies as well as in orher regions

of the world.

dinmicas

Ethnicity; Citizenship

Research Necwork for Latin America to investigare

borh social dynamics and processes of inclusion and exclusion in

conceptuales

Lara jssen/Eva Youkhana (eds.)

para

sobre Amrica Latina instrumentos

para investigar de manera interdisciplinaria

tanto

/.

Y pertenencIa: practIcas, teorra


y dimensiones espaciales

sociales como procesos de inclusin y exclusin en

sociedades pasadas y presences de Amrica Latina y en otras


latitudes del mundo.

Iberoamericana

. Vervuert

. 2011


The projecr, on which rhis book is based, has been funded by rhe German Federal Minisrry
of Educarion and Research (Bundesminisrerium
fr Bildung und Forschung, BMBF)
under rhe supporr code 01 UCI012A-E. The responsibiliry for [he conrenr of rhis
publicarion lies wirh rhe edirors.

.m.
~y

INDEX/NDICE

SPONSORED BY THE

Federal Ministry
01Education
and Research

PREFACE/PREFACIO

Sarah Albiez, Nei1y Castro, Lara [ssen and Eva Youkhana


INTRODUCTION/INTRODUCCI6N

11

r.
ETHNICITY

ANO CITIZENSHIP

ETNICIDAD

y CIUDADANA

IN HISTORICAL

PERSPECTIVE

EN PERSPECTIVA HIST6RICA

Reservados todos los derechos

Iberoamericana,

201 1
Amor de Dios, 1 - E-28014 Madrid
Te!': +34 914293522
Fax: +34 91 429 53 97
info@iberoamericanalibros.com
www.ibero-arnericana.ner

Karoline Noack
La construccin de diferencia en la zona de contacto: inrerroganres
al respecto de la etnicidad
.

35

Wolfgang Gabbert
Shifting Boundaries, Emerging Communities - Erhniciry and Ethnogenesis on Nicaragua's Adantic Coast
.

65

Cecilia Mndez G. y Caria Granadas Moya


Guerra, formacin del Estado e imaginario nacional en el Per

93

Vervuert, 2011
Elisaberhensrr, 3-9 - 0-60594
Te!': +49695974617

..

Frankfurr am Main

Fax: +49695978743
info@iberoamericanalibros.com
www.ibero-arnericana.ner

n.
ETHNIC

ISBN 978-84-8489-605-0
ISBN 978-3-86527-658-2

(Iberoamericana)
(Vervuerr)

AsPECTOS

Depsito Legal: SE-5967-2011


Cubierta: Marcela Lpez Parada
Impreso en Espaa por Publidisa
The paper on which rhis book is prinred rneers rhe requiremenrs

ofISO

9706

ANO SPATIAL AsPECTS

OF CrTIZENSHIP

t.TNICOS y ESPACIALES DE LA CIUDADANA

Rodolfo Stavenhagen
Derechos humanos y ciudadanas ind genas en Amrica Latina

121

Santiago Bastos
Propuestas mayanistas e ideologas rnicas en Guatemala

137

NOSTALGIA,

FOOD AND BELONGING:

ECUADORIANS
Mara

IN NEWYORK
Amelia

CITY

Viteri

.,
ABSTRACf
Nostalgia

is part o/a

re-inuented

migrant's everyday lifo: although

in dramatically

diffirent

approach and base my analysis upon two components


lected at the Queens Museum
media

installation

liued;

imagined,

inuented

o/ Art in Queens,

o/ research: 1) Firstly; data col-

Neto York

City;

tbrougb

colleague, tuere brought togetber with tbose o/the audience

ing material

elements related to food,

nostalgia,

identities,

while explor-

symbols, nationbood

and

2) And secondly; data collected betioeen 2009 and 20 10 within tbe Ecuado-

rian community

mostly in Queens, New York. 1 use tbese findings

space and the continuum

INTROOUcrION

'the multi-

Al Lacro Lado, iobereby, my uoice and that o/ my Ecuadorian

anthropology
migration.

and

ways. In ibis article, 1 use an interdisciplinary

o/ transnational

ANO THEORETlCAL

identities

to re-think notions o/

in relation to flod

and citizenship.

FRAMEWORK

According to Stewart (1988, 227) nostalgia is "not a given content as its


forms, meanings, and effects shift with the context - it depends on where the
speaker stands in the landscape of the present". The irnpossibiliry of a return
to orie's homeland - whether actual or imagined - permeates the lives of
immigrants across the globe. From rhe re-enactrnent of rituals and re-creation of spaces that resemble the homeland to rhe circulation of "nostalgia
food produces", an estimated 350,000 Ecuadoriarr' immigrants in Queens
and Brooklyn are actively defining alternative ways of belonging to rheir
homeland as well as to the new land, ways thar are never complete nor linear.
According to Yuval-Davis (2007) neither citizenship nor identiry can encap-

Ecuador has been officially declared as a rnulti-ethnic

and plurinarional

Srare. Accord-

ing ro rhe lasr survey conducred by INEC (Insrirure for Narional Surveys) in 2006, mestizos
represenr 79.8%; followed by 7% rhar self-idenrify as indigenous. Needless ro sayo staristics
from differenr sources vary grearly as rhese figures are polirically loaded.


222

;.

Maria Amelia Vireri

sulate the norion of belonging (as conrradictory definitioris are called inro
questiori). This author defines belonging as being where "rhe sociology of
emorions inrerfaces wirh rhe sociology of power, where identificario n and
participation collude", Yuval-Oavis analyses how, like other hegemonic construcrio ns, belonging rends to become "naruralised", becoming invisible in
hegemonic formations. In rhe aurhor's words: "it is only when one's safe and
stable connecrion to rhe collecriviry, the homeland, the stare, becomes threatened, that ir becomes articulared and reflexive rather rhan jusr performative."
In accordance with Holrzman (2006, 373) we need to consider rhe ubiquiry of food in maintaining hisrorically constiruted idenrities, as ir owes nor
only ro rhe properries of the food itself but also to rhe social and cultural
condirions that allow 01' encourage this to be a space for resilient identities
where orher arenas are far more stigrnarised. Taking a closer look at rhe way
nostalgia in relarion to food manifests irself in a rnulripliciry of nacional idenrities - ranging from Ecuadorian to Latino to American - ir could offer a
potencial window into forros of memory that are more hereroglossic, ambivalenr, layered, and texrured (Holrzrnan 2006,373).2
Food as nostalgia has been primarily conceprualised as a nostalgic enacrrnent of idenriry, as a celebrarion of a diasporic cornmuniry's resilience and as
an opporruniry ro bring history and memory rogerher under difficult circumstances. One of the quesrions guiding my currenr research is how readily
available Ecuadorian food in Queens, New York City (NYC) (labelled by
business and marketing people as "nosralgia food produces") acts as a signifiel' in rhe way Ecuadorians re-define their own nacional idenriry wirhin rhe
diaspora as ir overlaps with orher pre-discursive erhnic, racial and gender
idenrities. What we homonymically label as "mernory" ofren refers to an
array of very differenr processes which nor only have a rorally different
dynamic, but rhat we also aim ro undersrand for very different reasons too ranging from monumental public archirecrure to the nostalgia evoked by a
rea-soaked biscuir (Holrzrnan 2006, 361). A useful concept used by Appadurai (2003, 339) is the terrn "rranslocaliries" ro talk about rhe cornplex conditions for rhe production of ties of marriage, work, business and leisure that
are connecred ro the homeland. According ro Anrhias (2009, 6), a key ques-

Nostalgia, Food and Belonging: Ecuadorians

223

rion is how ro think of belonging and identiry wirhin a transnarional and


"rranslocarional" frame which recognises that people have rnulriple locarions,
posirions and belongings, in a situated and conrextual way, but which does
not end up as a thorough reificarion 01' deconsrrucrion of difference.
Similar to Pribilsky (2007), my inicial research findings also identify how
Latino immigrants - in this particular case Ecuadorians - go from stable
idenriries as villagers, farhers, sons and brorhers ro ambiguous subjecr positions of "illegal'? aliens and second-class cirizens. As we continue ro further
problematise rhe inrerdependence berween these state caregories and those of
others including race, ethniciry, gender and sexualiry, rhe posirions of such
ambiguous subjecrs become even more unsrable. For insrance, if we are to
combine the totaliry of escalaring anti-immigrant discourse in rhe U.s. wirh
the srrong presence of Latinos in cities such as New York then cases will
appear such as rhar of Marcelo Lucero, who was stabbed ro dearh by a young
group of reenagers who called him Mexican in November 2008.
approach ro this
As r include a self-reflexive and auro-erhnographic
research study, r combine my own undersrandings and negotiations of being
an Ecuadorian in rhe U.S. wirh rhose of firsr-generarion immigrants Roberro, Franklin and Ricardo and a selecrion of rhe hundreds of nosralgic voices
imprinred in the colourful post-ir notes rhar were part of rhe Al Lacro Lado
mulrimedia insrallarion. Lacro, a eypical Andean Ecuadorian dish made from
poraroes represents the symbolic objecr arourid which my colleague Mara
Fernanda Moscoso and 1 exrracted ingredients ro re-enacr our experiences of
differenr places and memories: our neighbollrhaods, friends, ciries, families
and countries. Al Locro Lado was a multirnedia installarion project composed
of objecrs, video, phorographs, sounds and words (Fig. 1 and 2). The project
was a subjective, rheorerical, polirical, and artisric reflecrion, by which rhe
voices of ourselves - rwo Ecuadorian PhO anrhropologists (residing in the
Unired Srares and Germany ar the rime) - were broughr rogerher wirh rhose
of rhe audience while exploring material elemenrs relared to nostalgia, idenrities, symbols, narionhood and migration.

1 Similarly, aurhors like Valenrine


(1999) illusrrare rhe cornplex ways in which idenriry is
produced, articula red and conresred rhrough food consumprion and rhe sparial dynamics of
cooking and earing ar rhe specific culrurallocarion of"rhe home".

in New York Ciry

1 fully concur wirh De Genova (2002) in rhar rhere is "norhing marrer-of-lact

about rhe

'illegaliry' of undocurnenred migranrs" and rhar rhe rerrn and concepr irself needs ro be reformulared. In a similar way, Kyle's (2000) research in Andean Ecuador invites us ro re-consider
basic disrincrions berween legal and illegal, labour and enrrepreneurial, economic and polirical, remporary and permanenr

migrarions.


224

Nostalgia.

Maria AmeJia Viteri

Food and Belonging:

Ecuadorians

in New York Ciry

225

AL LOCROLADO

.,.

FIGURE

Writing out Loud/Escribiendo

en Voz Alta. Photograph taken by the author,

1 draw upon Mata Codesal's (2010, 24) NYC research study "where
Ecuadorian migrants can easily get into an 'already-present home away from
horne' creating and sustaining a transnational food sphere". The author illustrates how migration is then also experienced through rhe body and how
food can be used to fight off the sense of fragmentation or disconrinuiry
brought into people's lives by migration. Other authors such as Fischler
(1988) discuss the relationship between identity formation and food too,
highlighting rhe centrality of food to our sense of identiry, as it asserts diversiry, hierarchy and organisation.
The Ecuadorian dispora" is a particularly interesting setting to begin
exploring these conflations considering the irnportant campaign initiated by
the current president, Rafael Correa, to build a sense of "Ecuadorianness"
through certain idealised images of traditional foods found throughout

~ For a more rhorough


(2005).

and updared

discussion

011

Ecuadorian

migrarion

cf. Herrera

FIGURE 2
Insrallarion Al Locro Lado. Phowgraph

taken by rhe aurhor,


226

..

Nosralgia,

Maria Amefia Vireri

Ecuador. Parallel ro rhis carnpaign, President Correas current policies favour


local investmenr, producrion and consumpcion by applying elevaced raxes on
foreign imporcs in an attempc ro creare a sense of pride and "Ecuadorianness" for rradirionallocal foods. In rhe words of my colleague Barbara Grnenfelder-Elliker (2001, 13) "the massive exodus ofEcuadorians, Azuayos in
particular, (... ) obeys rhe forces of a global finance economy as much as ir
does 'choice' at rhe individual level". The author addresses both rhe general
and gendered shifr in the geopolirical orientarion of Ecuadorian emigranrs to
rhe U.S. and more recenrly, to Spain."
Ir's a challenge ro quantify the exact number of Ecuadorians living in the
NYC afea considering thar a large majoriry had ro resort ro coming ro the
Unired Stares either wirhour papers or using false docurnentation, - rhis parricularly being rhe case afrer Presidenr Mahuad dollarised the currency in
1999, a few weeks before he was overrhrown. Furtherrnore, according to the
Ecuadorian Consulace in NewYork Ciry, rhe respective Ecuadorian cornmuniry in rhis locarion is a very mobile popularion changing home ar leasr every
rhree months ro avoid being discovered by the immigracion aurhoriries. Following Grnenfelder-Elliker's (2001, 9) research work in Azuay, Ecuador's
loss of sovereignty over currency coincides wich rhe expansion of "Plan
Colombia" ro include a foreign milirary base on rhe counrry's Pacific Coasr,
rhe building projecr for a new trans-Andean oil pipeline, and a mass exodus
now direcred rowards Europe.
My inirial observarions and interviews were conducred rnosrly in Queens
at different periods of rime during 2008 and 2009 whereas AL Locro Lado
rook place berween January 16rh and 30rh, 2010. The dara collected deals
wirh the rnulriple ways by which rhe re-significarion and re-invention of
(narional) idenriries rhrough "already-presenr home from horne" feelings
allow new transnacional imaginings and conneccions ro the homeland. Ir also
illustrates how commodiry chains acc as vehicles rhrough which producers
and consumers interact to create new relarionships across econornic, geographic and polirical boundaries (Warson 2005). Having said this, ir is crucial rhat we frame rhe social consrrucrion ofbelonging wirh respecc ro Anderson's concepcualisacion of "cornmuniries", whereby emphasis should not be

, For more informarion


(2008).

on Ecuadorians

migrarion

[Q

Food and Bdonging:

Ecuadorians

in New York Ciry

227

upon rheir falsicy/genuineness buc insread, upon how chey are imagined.
Wichin chis framework, Sutron (2001, 83) calks about the process of synaesrhesia defined as food's memory power derived from rhe crossing of experiences from differenc sensory regiscers. Synaeschesia, according ro Surron's
erhnography wich rhe Kalymnos, could help us underscand the significance
of food as parc of idenriry rnainrenance (and re-significacion) when migrants
leave their homeland.

NOSTALGIA,

Fooo ANo

IDENTITY(IES)

As Larino imrnigranrs, and immigrants in general, carry a myriad of idenriries rhar are nor sraric, rhese idenriries are subjecr ro consranr negoriarion
before, during and after rhe experience ofborder-crossing in non-linear ways.
In addirion ro rhis, rhe "immigrarion problern" is more ofren chan nor
analysed wirhin a herero-norrnative framework rhar assumes mosr irn migranrs have eirher a nuclear family of rheir own in rheir home counrries or
rhar rhey wish to have one in rhe u.s.
Immigrarion restrictions and exclusions are hisrorically rooted in rhe concern for maintaining power and shaping policies on citizenship (Cant 2009,
42). That is ro say, cultural cirizenship as discussed by Rosaldo (1989) and
Ong (1999) will go beyond enabling assimilarion to enforcing ir when.ever
possible chrough the various mechanisms of power rhat end up as rmrrugrarion policies in rhe U.S.
.
Those same cacegories char rhe government has created to granr nghts to
whac they have concepcualised as minoriries, pose a serious limit to full c~rizenship in rerms of how we perceive, imagine and act upon sexual, racial,
ethn ic, class and gender represencacions char accompany rheir interprerarion. Modern conceprions of cirizenship, ried up wich various forms of
dernocratic universalism, cend ro demand a homogenous people wich a standardised package of righcs (Appadurai 2003, 339). An immigrant's culcural
practices, despire persecurion and concradicrory discourse regardi~g rhe~r
rights, are key to further underscanding rhe engagemenc of each diasporic
communiry in whac are usually double tracked polirics: rhose of rheir horneland and rhose of cheir currenc residence. In rerrns of culrural pracrices,
food is scrongly arcached ro che creacion,developmenr
and reificatio n of

Spain, cf Camacho and Hernndez

nacional idenri ries.

226

Nostalgia, Food and Belonging: Ecuadorians in New York Ciry

Maria Arndia Vireri

Ecuador.

Parallel ro this campaign,

local investrnenr,
foreign

producrion

irnports

in an attempt

ness" for traditionallocal

President

Correa's current

and consumption

by applying

creare a sense of pride and "Ecuadorian-

[Q

foods. In the words of my coLleague Barbara

upon

their falsiry/genuineness

rhis framework,

Wimin

rhesia defined

Gr-

(2001, 13) "rhe massive exodus ofEcuadorians,


Azuayos in
( ... ) obeys rhe forces of a global finance economy as much as ir

as food's memory

ences from differenr

sensory

erhnography

particular,

of food as part of idenriry

at the individual

level", The author

and gendered shifr in the geopolirical orientation


the U.S. and more recendy, to Spain.?
Ir's a challenge

ro quantiy

NYC area considering

borh rhe general

of Ecuadorian

me exact number

that a large majoriry

addresses

emigrants

of Ecuadorians

Fooo ANo

NOSTALGIA,

before, during

niry in this locarion


rhree monrhs
lowing

is a very mobile popularion

ro avoid being discovered

Colombia"

over currency

to include

a foreign

home at least every

by the immigrarion

coincides

milirary

authoriries.

and interviews

wirh

the expansion

base on the counrry's

rhe building project for a new trans-Andean


now directed rowards Europe.
My inicial observations

commuFol-

(2001, 9) research work in Azuay, Ecuador's

Grnenfelder-Elliker's

loss of sovereignry

changing

oil pipeline,
were conducred

of "Plan

Pacific Coasr,

and a mass exodus


mosdy

the significance
when migranrs

IOENTITY(IES)

in Queens

As Latino

immigrants,

ries rhar are nor sratic,

analysed

and immigrants

in general,

carry a myriad

rhese idenriries

are subject

ro consranr

and afrer rhe experience

wirhin

a herero-normarive

grants have eirher a nuclear


Immigrarion

resrricrions

illusrrates

and consumers
graphic

imaginings

how commodiry
inreract

and polirical

and connections

chains
ro create

boundaries

acr as vehicles
new relarionships
(Warson

cial rhar we frame rhe social construcrion


son's conceprualisarion

to the homeland.
through

of "cornrnuniries",

which

Ir also

producers

across economic,

geo-

2005). Having said this, ir is cruofbelonging


whereby

wirh respect ro Anderemphasis

should

not be

and exclusions

power and shaping

tion policies in rhe U.S.


Those same caregories

rhey

migrarion ro Spain, cf. Camacho and Hernndez

nor

most immior

are historically

roored in rhe con-

democraric
dardised

universalism,

righrs, are key to further

food is srrongly
nacional

attached

idenci ties.

a homogenous

sexual,

various

discourse

rhe engagemenr
rracked

residence.

ro rhe crearion,

forms

of

people wirh a sean-

2003, 339). An irnrnigranr's

undersranding

racial,

rheir interpreta-

ried up wirh

and conrradictory

in whar are usually double

and act upon

that accompany

rend to demand

persecurion

pose a serious limir to full c~ri-

imagine

of cicizenship,

of righrs (Appadurai

despire

has creared to granr f1ghrs ro

as minorities,

represenrarions

conceprions

package

pracrices,

land and rhose of rhei r currenr


on Ecuadorians

rhar assumes

ways.

rhan

policies on cirizenship

rhat rhe governmenr

have conceptualised

rio n. Modern

communiry

\ For more informarion


(2008).

ofren

(Cant 2009,
42). That is to say, cultural cirizenship as discussed by Rosaldo (1989) and
Ong (1999) will go beyond enabling assimilarion
ro enforcing ir when.ever
possible rhrough rhe various mechanisms of power rhar end up as Immlgracern for maintaining

class and gender

allow new transnarional

in non-linear

is more

family of rheir own in rheir home counrries

erhnic,

feelings

of idenri-

negoriation

rhar rhey wish ro have one in rhe U.S.

(narional)

from horne"

problem"
framework

in rerrns of how we perceive,

home

ofborder-crossing

to rhis, rhe "immigration

whar

"already-presenr

of experiro Surron's

(and re-significarion)

zenship

rhrough

according

could help us undersrand

rnaintenance

at differenr periods of time during 2008 and 2009 whereas AL Locro Lado
rook place between January 16rh and 30rh, 2010. The data collecred deals
wirh the rnultiple ways by which rhe re-significarion
and re-invenrion
of
idenriries

from the crossing

Synaesrhesia,

ro rhe

In addirion

Ecuadorian

how rhey are imagined.

leave rheir homeland.

Ecuadorian

in New York Ciry, the respective

power derived

regisrers.

with rhe Kalymnos,

United Stares either withour papers or using false docurnenrarion,


- this parricularly being rhe case after President Mahuad dollarised rhe currency in
1999, a few weeks before he was overrhrown. Furtherrnore, according to the
Consulare

upon

to

living in rhe

had ro resort to coming

but insread,

Surten (2001, 83) ralks abour the process of synaes-

nenfelder-Elliker
does 'choice'

.l.

policies favour
elevated taxes on

227

cultural

regarding

rheir

of each diasporic

polirics: rhose of their home-

In rerms of cultural
'developmenr

pracrices,

and reificario

n of


228

Maria Arnclia Viteri

As my own prior research work illustrates, belonging, as interpreted ar the


receiving land within an immigration framework is usually described as an
imagined and desired citizenship (cf Viteri 2008a; ibid. 2008b; ibid. 2008c;
Viteri and Tobler 2009). Nevertheless, according to Yuval-Davis (2007),
belonging is not just about membership, rights and duries, but also about the
emotions thar such memberships evoke; nor can belongirig be reduced to
identiries and idenrificarions, which are about individual and collective narrarives of self and orhers, presenration and labelling, myths of origin and
rnyths of desriny, Thar is to say, belonging is not determined eirher solely by
migrarory status; jusr as "American citizenship" do es not necessarily override
the hierarchical rendering of peoples within stereorypically racist and ethnocentric categorisarions of peoples (Viteri and Tobler 2009).
Different authors such as Stewarr (1988, 227) have conceptualised nostalgia as a cultural practice that reminds us of the importance of considering
particular posirionaliries when analysing irs meanings. When critically looking ar food and nostalgia in relation to belonging, we go back to the Nineteenrh Century where the srudy of food and eating in rheanthropological
field began as Mintz and Du Bois (2002) furrher illusrrare. What srands out
in some of the literarure Mintz and Du Bois discuss, is rhe role of food in the
social construcrion of memory, rhat is to say, the embodied forms of memory rhar consrirute food as a locus for historically constructed identiry, be they
ethnic or narionalisr (Holrzrnan 2006, 364).
This embodiment perrains to specific material aspecrs that need to be
considered. In rhe particular case of the Ecuadorian diaspora in NYC the
ability of going back or nor is one aspect thar will trigger different experiences and feelings of the homeland. This ability is usually framed mainly
through the immigration status rather than economic capital.

DESDE QUE LLEGU QUIERO

To Go

IRME ("SINCE

1 AluuVED 1 WANT

BACK")

Roberto is a mestizo sociologist in his early 30s who carne to NYC around
seven years ago and remained undocumented throughout. Roberro's status
dramatically changed again after his deportation to Quito in November,
2010. Roberto has been not only a marvellous source of information bur a
great friend who generously introduced me to rhe world of "Litrle Ecuador':

Nostalgia.

Food and Bdonging:

Ecuadorians

in New York Ci<y

229

in the NYC area. Roberto's mapping ofEcuadorians in NYC is quite acurate


as it looks at timeframe, historical context and acculturarion processes. For
him, there are three types of Ecuadorian immigrants thar need to be considered when thinking abour the consumption and understandings of certain
Ecuadorian produces sold in the NYC area. The firsr type are those thar have
adapted to NYC and are able to navigate ir like a fish in a pond ("como pez
en el agua"). The second type are what Roberto calls duales, those that rnove
between here and there either physically through constant travel or syrnbolically through the regular exchange of goods, letters, phone calls, and even
fantasies of retuening to ones homeland. The third group is comprised of
those thar have not adapted to rhe NYC life and who never will. Roberto
also mentioned how the latter group represenrs the best rnarker for alcoholic
beverages such as Zhumir, as nostalgia is rendered, reproduced and ernbodied through this iconic sugar cane liquor. According to one young female
Colombian waitress hired to distribute samples of Zhumir at Ecuadorian
and Latin American events, Ecuadorians use Zhumir for everything from
curing a cold to celebrating traditional religious events and even as a lucky
charm. Despite being readily available in NYC, one of the post-ir notes written by an Ecuadorian ar the mulrimedia installation mentioned missing Zhumiro This could be [urther explained following Moscoso (2010, 178) where
memories of food are arriculated through a particular time and history. Within this framework, ir is the people, the dynamics of cooking and the placets)
related to that particular symbolic object - in this case Zhumir - that are
particularly missed.
Ricardo is a 35 year-old indigenous man who carne to NYC 15 years ago
from rhe province of Girn locared in the Azuay Andean Province of
Ecuador. He lives with his wife and two kids in the Bronx. Ricardo is among
those Ecuadorians thar have not been able to return to Ecuador even for a
visit because of his immigration status labelled by the U .S. goveenment as
"illegal". When talking about favourite dishes that we borh miss, Ricardo
looks away while saying "since 1 arrived 1 want to go back" ("Desde que
llegu quiero irrne"). Ricardo could well be a member of the third caregory
described by Roberto as those that might never be able to fully adapto
Some of the elernents through which Ricardo constructs his memories
and his longing for the past are his hornerown, his mother, the "people" and
rhe food. This is very similar to the information gathered at the Al Locro
Lado installation, where almost identical references to the family (including

.,

230

Maria Amelia Vireri

extended family), rhe landscape, the "people" and rhe food were recorded
alongside many others that included references to either foorball reams or
football irself. The following texr is illustrative of such references: "Extrao
los mores de San Juan, a mis panas de Chimbacalle y el frbol de la Tola." ("I
miss hominy fram San Juan, my buddies ar Chimbacalle and football at la
Tola").
Delving furrher into rhe topic of food Ricardo rnentioned "guatira" as the
dish rhar he misses rhe mosr. Guarita is a tradirional Andean dish of tripe
stew in a potato and peanut sauce. Similar to rhe Zhumir exarnple, 1 know
that guarira is readily available ar alrnosr all of rhe many Ecuadorian restaurants on Roosevelr Avenue, so 1 was surprised ar Ricardo's response. Inrerpreting my surprise Ricardo quickly added, "rhar Guarita is not the same!"
He went on to share how his family sends him cheese and guinea pig.6 The
larter is another Andean traditional dish rhat was repearedly mentioned on
rhe pos.r-ir no res, revealing to us rhe majoriry of Andean people who attended r~e ms.tallation. Transnarional idenriries are thus forged thraugh material
and lmagmary exchanges of food, phone calls, lerrers, gifrs, donarions and
money rransfers. In Ricardo's own words: "These dishes (tradicional farm
cheese and guinea pig) help a lot because rhen 1 feel as if 1 am myself again"
("se siente como uno mismo").

..

~imilarly, Franklin, a mestizo man in his 30s working as a technology


engineer ar one of the presrigious universities in NYC, menrioned how
before rhey starred importing Zhumir he would ask his relatives to send
moonshi~e (hard liquor). Franklin has been living in NYC for rwelve years
an~ as Wlt~ Roberto, his emphasis has been upon pursuing a college degree
while ooking for berrer opportuniries in rhe country. Despire having his
dad's partial suppOrt when he firsr carne to NYC, he had to work in all rnan~er of differ:nt jobs, fram selling purses to working at a bakery. On reflecnon, he .reahses rhar rhese jobs were transcendenral in helping him speak .
the ~nghsh language thar will now be essenrial for his future career in engineenng.
B~th Ricardo and Roberto speak about rhe mulriple ways in which rhe
exper.lence of food evokes recollection, which is not simply cognirive but also
emocional and physical, paralleling norions such as Bourdieu's (1977) habi-

For more on the symbolic meaning of guinea pigs cf. Archerri (I997).

Noscalgia. Food and Belonging:

Ecuadorians

in New York Ciry

231

rus, Connerro n's (1989) no tio n of bodily memory, and Sro ller's (1995)
emphasis on embodied memries (Holrzman 2006, 365).
Franklin talks about a "still picrure" rhar remains in your mind from rhe
rime you leave your coun rry. This "srill picrure" srays close, .irnmovable,
and unchangeable unril rhe day you rerurn. The problem according to
Franklin is rhar you are never able to match thar "srill picture" wirh rhe real
picture rhar you will see upon your rerur n, whenever rhat may be. Nosralgia sers in moriona dialecric of closeness and disrancing (Srewart 1988,
228) where popular Ecuadorian food brands like La Cholira, Van Camps
runa fish, La Universal and Amor, among orhers, trigger a chain of siguifiers where food enables - alrhough only momentarily - a "rerurn" to rhe
losr homeland.
Franklin recalls rhose /1rsr feelings of nosralgia when he /1rsr came to
NYC. Whar he missed rhe mosr were his girlfriend and his friends and he
would call ar leasr rhree times per week. Evenrually, he decided [Q collecr
all of rhe used phone cards ar which he realised rhar he had spent around
US$ 2,000 on internarional calls to Ecuador during a -rnon th periodo
Afrer a rwo-year period of mainraining a long-disrance relarionship with
his girlfriend, he sensed rhar his returri to Ecuador wo uld be delayed,
bringing him ro end the relarionship and, in his own words, "freeing" his
girlfriend.
Is food a central ground rhrough which Franklin furrher connecrs wirh
his Ecuadorian idenriry in NYC? Franklin believes that rhe places where
Ecuadorians play tradirional sports such as volleyball and soccer are rhe
insrances where you "forger rhar you are in rhe Unired Srares". Tradirional
Ecuadorian food and drinks are a vivid part of these evenrs, hence ernbodying nostalgia and consrrucring belonging in non-linear, subjecrive ways.
Orher irnportant events menrioned both by Roberto as well as by Franldin
are rhe Virgin Mary processions rhar closely follow rhe rradirions in Ecuador
but wirh a New York rwist, however rhese are nor rhe focus of rhis paper.
Parks like Flushing Meadows Corona locared in Queens, NYC is, for
instance, a space where mairrly Ecuadorians recrate rhe cultural, social, economic and polirical pracrices rhar rhey would usually carry out in rheir narive
homerowns: from discussing politics to organising a march, ro playing rheir
beloved narional sport 'foorball', ro couples caressing each orher on rhe grass.
AlI this is accompanied by tradicional food and usually special Ecuadorian
dances and music organised by the Queens Museum of Arr. Similar scenarios

232

Maria Amela Vireri

have been reponed in Spain as portrayed in Lisandra 1. Rivera and Manolo


5armienro's docurnenrary "Problemas Personales" (2002, 72').
Franklin and 1 got into an elaborare discussion abour "what acrualIy
changes in your identiryies)" if as an Ecuadorian in NYC, you have access
to traditional food, sports, cultural and religious traditions. As an Ecuadorian living in D.C. with only one or two Ecuadorian restaurants scattered
between DulIes Airport and Baltimore and none of the rich cultural and
religious traditions that are paer of the everyday life of Ecuadorians in NYC,
I use NYC as a refuge to calm my nostalgic feelings when the tripback ro
Ecuador seems roo far away on the calendar. What changes according to
Franklin is that the access ro familiar food that is readily available alIows
him to rnaintain a strong Ecuadorian identiry, as restaurants are also places
where you can meet other Ecuadorians for different types of networking.
The fact that 5panish is spoken widely in NYC, paericularly in the enclaves
where Latinos are established, aids significandy rhe ability to navigate the
foreign ciry.
Franklin highlights that some of the tangible changes are how one's "last
name doesn'r count anymore" and how the work one do es in the U.5. acts as
a sort of equaliser whereby people from different social classes can come
together. The references to rhe "lasr name" that Franklin mentioned are
loaded with Ecuadorian understandings around skin colour in relationship
ro social class and "race" categories (cf. Roitman 2008). Broadly speaking,
the lighrer your skin is, the better off you are, which is not restricted to economic capital but also social capital when using Bourdieu's terms. These
hierarchies and their inrerprerations will in rurn have an impact upon the
choice of food as well as the value and meaning associated to it. In addirion,
having a lasr name that comes from indigenous originsis stilI devalued by
rhe larger mestizo communiry. A strong sense of regionalism is reified in NYC
where Ecuadorian restaurants, as welI as festivities, are welI delineated
between the Andes and Coasral regions in particular.
As these narratives show, the conflarion of food, memory and nostalgia in
relationship ro idenriryfies) becomes relevant as we move not only between
geographically delirnited borders, but also berween and within these borders
that we negotiate daily crafr our mobiliry in some stances as immigrants and
in others as cirizens. This mobiliry becomes imperative as such borders are
continualIy changing and mutating within the fast-forward dynamics of
globalisation (Giroux 2005,6-7).

Nostalgia.

Food and Belonging: Ecuadorians

in Ncw York Ciry

233

CONCLUSIONS

Similar to Holtzman (2006, 364), 1 see food as a particularly rich arena in


which to explore such complexities of memory, considering at its forefront
rhe norion of experience in reference ro the pase. In this context, 1 believe
rhat Ecuadorian "nostalgia produces" could be used as a window through
which anrhropologists seek a broader understanding of the dynamics of this
cornmuniry as they continue ro re-configure their past and present, re-drawing in a number of unpredictable ways the maps of where rhey belong or nor.
The forging of renewed though malleable identities within the diaspora
are engrained with bodily memory as illusrrated by Franklin's narrative where
he goes back to being himseljafter eating traditional Ecuadorian food, and
particularly so if this food is sent from Ecuador. The senses, as a recollection
of rhe past, become another opporruniry for an interpretive anthropology,
steering us towards an anthropology of the senses, as originally suggested by
Sroller (1995) and Howes (1991), among others. Nevertheless, nostalgia
should not only be interpreted as a re-experiencing of emotional pasts but
also in consideration that it may be a longing for times and places that one
has never experienced (Holtzman 2006, 367).
As 1 am interested in looking at food as a site where the re-construction of
identities takes place, frames ideas and feelings related to citizenship and
influences various facers of an imrnigrant's life, from everyday practices to
more strategic decisions, some important issues are key to this analysis: 1)
legal citizenship versus political participarion even at the risk of deporration,
as in the recent case of Latino students fighting for legal status so that rhey
can enrol in college; 2) nacional and bi-narional identiries in relationship to
belonging and the role of food within this process; 3) methodology-wise,
considering affect in terms of the role of memory in the re-construction of
identities and citizenship in relation to a nation-state; 4) the juxtaposition
and re-signification of a multiplicity of identities and their role in how
Ecuadorians in NYC identify with one or more spaces at the same time.
The ways in which we remember are contingent ro borh bodily memory
and the multipliciry of non-linear ways in which we apply meaning to certain produces, as well as the particular context where these producrs are available. Nacional symbols ranging from the colours of the flag to traditional
dishes and the availability of their ingredients are magnified by many
through the lens of nostalgia as illustrared through the successful and massive

."

Nosralgia.

Maria Arrielia Vireri

234

parricipation (approximately 500 people) ar rhe multimedia installation Al


Locro Lado.
Belonging, within the analysis presented, considers idenriry as a plural,
c\osely connected with a fluid space where borh imagined and physical borders permeate new imaginings thar go beyond traditional and state definitions of cirizenship. The latter doesn'r translate into less surveillance bur ir
does render alrernarive possibiliries for rhe forging of rransnarional Ecuadorian idenrities in the NYC diaspora where food consritutes a never-linear continuum?
Some final considerarions as we conrinue building a thread rhat further
c~nnect.s diaspora, ~~migrarion, food, nostalgia and belonging, are rhe way
diasporic comm~n~ttes. cons~~uct stories rhat push rhe boundaries of place
and space. Thar mil plCture brought forward by Franklin which is nevert~eless mobile, as it is filled and re-filled wirh renewed "structures of feeling"
t~lggere~ by food in chis discussion, speaks borh to rhe homeland at the same
tlm: as ir confronts any linear reading of belonging. All the same, we are
rem1l1de? by 8habha (1994, 22) rhar nor all negoriarions are rhe sarne, as
they are inlluenced by particular subjecrive posirions and rhe limirs of choices and agency ~hese ~ight eirher enable or disable. Mapping rhe crossroads
where people inhabit a mulripliciry of transnational borders, idenrities,
spaces and strucrure.s ~ighr enable a rheorerical and methodological cririque
t~at furthers porenrial inrervenrions relared to citizenship. Doing so through
different means such as rhe use of art and popular culture could further
engage these communiries in more horizontal dialogues while a1so providing
a venue to reflecr upon rhese rnatrers of imporrance.

ApPADURA!, Arjun.

Food and Bdonging:

"Sovereignity

wirhour

Tbe Anthropology

Geography."

Low and Denise

Ecuadorians

Terrirorialiry:

Notes

for a Posmarional

of Space and Place: Locating Culture. Ed. Serha M.

Lawrence-Ziga.

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2003.

337-50.

Guinea Pig): Food, Symbol and Conflict of Knowledg in Ecuador.

ARCHETTI, Eduardo.

Oxford: Berg 1997.


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parriciparion

500 people) at the multimedia

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Al

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Belonging,

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ders permeate

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thar go beyond

The latrer doesn'r

does render alrernarive


an identiries
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Some final considerations

comm ~nlt1es. cons~~uct stories

and space. Thar

mil picture

btought

Ecuadori-

a never-linear

and belonging,

con-

are rhe way

rhar push the boundaries

forward

bur ir

a rhread that further

building

food, nostalgia

bor-

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as we coririnue

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tradirional

rranslare

as a plural,

and physical

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in rhe NYe diaspora

c~nnec~s diaspora,
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considers

wirh a fluid space where borh imagined

new imaginings

by Franklin

of place

which

is never-

theless mobile, as ir is filled and re-filled with renewed "srrucrures of feeli "
.
d bvy food
i
. .
mg
t~lggere.
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tJm~ as rt confronrs
remlflde~

any linear

by Bhabha

rhey are mfluenced

(I994,

people

inhabir

spaces and structure.s


t~at furrhers
differen

porenrial

means

of belonging.

All the same, we are

22) rhar nor all negotiarions

by particular

es and agency ~hese ~ight


where

reading

subjecrive

posirions

eirher enable or disable.

a mulripliciry
intervennons

are the same, as

and the limits of choicMapping

of transnational

n:ight ena~le a rheorerical

the crossroads

borders,

idenrities,

and methodological

relared to citizenship.

such as rhe use of arr and popular

engage rhese communities


in more horizontal dialogues
a venue to reflecr upon these rnatters of imporrance.

Doing

culrure

critique
so through

could

furrher

while also providing

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CONTESTED
SOCIAL

PRACTICES
MOBILITY,

DA

AND THE

OF BELONGING:

SPATIAL

IDENTITY

DE LOS MUERTOS

IN MEXICO

Eueline Drr

.,.
ABSTRACT
Tbis article explores contested practices o/ belonging in tbe context o/ the touristification o/ the Day o/ the Dead in Mida, Oaxaca, Mexico. 1 conceiue o/ befonging not
only as a sentiment and emotional attacbment but rather inuestigate the social practices that create belonging; represent difference and [oster cultural identification. 1
place emphasis on the spatial and representational dimensions o/ what belonging constitutes and explore tbe ways they are modified by local actors. 1 also stresstbe political
dimension belonging entails by revealing tbe range o/ interests that become apparent
when practices o/ belonging are contested. 1 argue that this approach is particularly
releuant in the context o/ 'globalisation and social fragmentation, u/hen belonging ir
experienced, negotiated and articulated in neu/ contexts.

INTRODUCTION
The Roman

Catholic

politically
century
and

motivated
cartoonist

find

adorned

roday

representarions
Jos Guadalupe

expression

This

Cultural

of Mexican

Posada became

wirh norions of national


Herirage

migrarion,

idiosyncraric

for Mexico

and skelerons,

skulls

ofren

on me Day of the Dead (Branrelarionships

identity

on UNESCO's

ofHumanity

of nineteenth

to dearh

(Lornnitz-Adler

Representative

(cf Unesco 2008).

thar

2005).

List of the

In the context

the da de los muertos, also called todos santos, has been

rranslocalised

and rurned

communiries

of migrarion

inro a rransnarional
and origin (Burrell

sidered a field where belonging


While

widely. The

of dearh and the deceased

shows Mexicans'

rhis fiesta was inscribed

Intangible

borders,

fiestas and promoted

in the calaveras,

celebrarion

became intertwined
In 2008,

mosr renowned

wirh sugar, sold in myriad variarions

des 1998).

Saints Day (first of Novern-

holiday All Souls Day/All

ber) is one of Mexico's

is enacred

social field, linking


2005).

and reinforced

rhis is also rhe case in Mida,

a tourist

together

In rhis vein, ir is conacross inrernational


rown locared

in the