Sumud and Food: Remembering Palestine Through Cuisine in Chile
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 for the retention of cultural knowledge. This paper 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. Based on this research, I suggest that the continued reproduction of Palestinian cuisine in Chile simultaneously constitutes an engagement with the local context and a form of diasporic sumud (steadfastness)—a long-term and long-distance connection to Palestine and a quotidian resistance to symbolic erasure. Memory as resistance occurs in the diaspora both through the practice of diasporization itself and the reproduction of Palestinian food culture in the private and public sphere, the intergenerational exchange of traditions and memory, and the voicing of the Palestinian cause within the Chilean context.
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