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Title: Andean transnational migration in Belgium: decolonial attitudes at the heart of Europe
Authors: Nunez Borja Luna, Carmen Alicia
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2016
Abstract: This doctoral dissertation analyses the knowledge generated by social actors of Peruvian origin in Belgium through their embodied practices, understood as performances which constitute both an act of transfer and a way of knowing. Against a Eurocentric narrative that has used the migration–development nexus paradigm to direct migration studies and has ignored subjectivities, I propose as part of a decolonial stance to analyse these practices from a perspective generated by South scholars— with concepts belonging to the modernity/coloniality framework such as the coloniality of power and decolonial attitude, which arise from the particular historical experience of people in Latin America— and to understand places such as Brussels through theoretical perspectives developed in Latin America. The core proposition is that the embodied practices examined here constitute subaltern knowledge generated within the heart of Europe, which emerge as decolonial attitudes that challenge the very centre of Western power and Eurocentric knowledge. No study of Peruvian migration has as yet considered a decolonial perspective; nor has focused on the knowledge generated and transmitted by Peruvians through their embodied practices in a transnational migration context. In this dissertation I am identifying a dimension of migration studies that has been overlooked and that calls for another kind of critical approach.

The ethnographic material analysed in this dissertation refers to embodied practices which are part of the Andean repertoire and which relate to our human senses: dancing, singing, feeling, tasting, speaking, and listening. Each chapter is organized around different spaces of participation and cultural expressions of Peruvian social actors in Belgium, specifically in Brussels: display of Andean dances and music in Bruxelles-Les-Bains and in the city centre; Peruvian food festivals and solidarity meals; Quechua literacy course; political participation and activism based on the ancestral notion of Pachamama. The practices examined here connect us with an identity that appears in a global Andean-scape, linking us with a non-patriarchal vision of the world, and connecting us to the world of knowledge that arises from our bodies, subverting other hegemonic worlds through communal practices of eating, celebrating, communicating, expressing solidarity and respect. At the same time, these practices are in dialogue with current issues affecting our societies given the contemporary reality of displacement and migration in the face of neoliberal restructuring, and continued inferiorization of the knowledge and devaluation of the life of people belonging to the global South.

As discussed in this doctoral dissertation, the decolonial attitude cannot be limited to the project of intellectuals built on theory; it emerges from the experience, from the life-world of the subaltern subject at the margins of the border. In this case Andean Peruvian social actors recreate, resignify and transform Andean knowledge at the border of the global North, and in doing so they stand as epistemological subjects. The transmission of Andeanity appears in this global context not as a unilateral translation but instead through the mediation of knowledge expressed in things common to all of us, food, voice, body movement, and so on. This mediation of knowledge is also the result of alternative spaces that are constitutive of an epistemological border in Europe, in which subaltern communities, in this case Peruvian social actors, re-appropriate and bring to the fore their knowledge, creating understandings which confront the hegemonic creation of knowledge and power, affirming the value of life, and attempting to build relations of revalorization and equality.
Table of Contents: TABLE OF CONTENTS


Acknowledgements 9

List of pictures 11

Chapter One: Introduction 13

Chapter Two: Theoretical framework 21

2.1. Coloniality of power and coloniality of knowledge 21
2.2. Decoloniality 26
2.3. Border-thinking and embodied practices 28
2.3.1. Embodied practices as knowledge 30
2.3.2. Embodied practice and the repertoire 32
2.4. Modernity and decolonial attitudes 35
2.5. Andean social actors 39
2.6. Peruvian migration. Literature review and Belgian context 43
2.6.1. Brief review of Peruvian migration 43
2.6.2. Peruvian migration and Belgian context 48

Chapter Three: Methodology 57

3.1. Ethnographic research and double reflexivity 57
3.1.1. Memories and the ethnographer 59
3.1.2. Why are you Peruvians always studying other Peruvians? 61
3.2. Fieldwork, research participants and research methods 62
3.2.1 Access to the field and multi-sited ethnography 62
3.2.2 Data collection 65
3.3. Role as researcher and reflexive ethnography in practice 66

Chapter Four: From independent women to unknown migrants:
the migration–development nexus from a decolonial perspective 71

4.1. From independent women to unknown migrants 74
4.2. Development wives 86
4.3. Cleaning ladies 91
4.4. Migration, coloniality of power, and the colonial/modern gender system 98

Chapter Five: Festive bodies and labour displacement in Brussels:
Andean dances and music 103

5.1. Embodied practice as knowledge 105
5.2. Dancing, singing and displacing the Andean geography 107
5.3. Andean dance groups, living knowledge and memory inscribed in the body 118
5.4. The body and the repertoire - Andean women singers in Brussels 125
5.5. International Women’s Day 130
5.6. Andean repertoire in Bruxelles-Les-Bains 133

Chapter Six: The taste of Peru in Brussels:
Food gatherings, solidarity and gastronomic development discourse 141

6.1. Food as knowledge 142
6.2. Peruvian food and women 145
6.3. “Family” gathering 147
6.4. Solidarity events 153
6.5. Misturita in Brussels 160

Chapter Seven: Quechua literacy in Brussels 171

7.1. The lettered city and Quechua language in Peru 174
7.2. Embodied practices as the knowledge of the no letrados 179
7.3. Quechua language course in Brussels 182
7.4. Transmitting Quechua as an intercultural exercise 187
7.5. The Earth is our body and we are the spirit of the Earth 193

Chapter Eight: Pachamama in the Global North: activism
and political participation of Andean Peruvian social actors in Brussels 201

8.1. Voices from the Andes in Brussels 205
8.2. The Sumaq Kawsay - Buen Vivir among a Belgian public 217
8.3. Pachamama and social movements in Brussels 221
8.4. Belgians from the Andes 228

Chapter Nine: Concluding Remarks: Migration and Andean decolonial
attitudes, towards an Andean epistemology in Brussels 235

References 251

Summary 275

Samenvatting 276
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre

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