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Soy de Zoochina: Zapotecs Across Generations in Diaspora Re-creating Identity and Sense of Belonging


Using a critical hemispheric indigenous framework to analyze my interviews and participant observation work, I argue that indigenous women’s challenges to expected gender norms reinforce and solidify comunalidad and sense of belonging and being indigenous to their community. Based on qualitative and ethnographic fieldwork in Los Angeles I show that belonging to Zoochina and being Zoochinense is taught and practiced in traditional dances, being in the Oaxacan brass band, and as a member of the hometown association. To do this, I consider the indigenous Oaxacan conception of collective community life— comunalidad— in order to understand current forms of community participation in Los Angeles (Luna 2013). I coin the term “transnational comunalidad,” of which I define as, the indigenous ideology and practice of communal belonging and being across generations in diaspora. In looking at indigenous Latinas/os across generations, my work reveals the multicultural and multiethnic processes by which the indigenous diaspora navigates belonging and identity in the U.S.

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