For Palestinians in diaspora, memory establishes and validates national consciousness and embodies the ongoing struggles for Palestinian legitimacy on a global scale. Within this community, cuisine and the methods of its production are an essential medium of cultural retention and knowledge. This talk examines the role of food in the experience of Palestinian collective memory in the Chilean diaspora through sensory ethnography of restaurants and home cooking in addition to interviews with Palestinian chefs, storeowners, and local residents living in the Chilean towns of La Calera and Quillota. I discuss how the continued reproduction of Palestinian cuisine in Chile constitutes a form of diasporic sumud (steadfastness) – a quotidian resistance to symbolic erasure and connection to Palestinian identity—and an engagement with the local context.
Nicholas Bascuñan-Wiley is a PhD student in Sociology and a Mellon Cluster Fellow in Middle East and North African studies at Northwestern University. His ethnographic research explores Palestinian diasporic culture and translocal connections within South America. His most recent project focuses on the culture of food and eating as it is shaped by the long-term and long-distance connections between communities in Chile and Palestine.
1st Floor, Neiman Center