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La Siguanaba haunts with bravery and doubts : second-generation Salvadoran women


This ethnography applies the monstrosity and power of La Siguanaba as a methodological and epistemological tool to map the development and politicization of Salvadoran transnational identity as experienced by three second- generation women who grew up in Los Angeles County, attend the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and are members of a Salvadoran based student organization. There are two main focal points featured in the text. Firstly, I posit that the process of forced racial formation endured within the United States is one of the factors inciting the particular kind of discourse about Salvadoran-ness among these second-generation women. It is a racial formation based on exclusion from mainstream U.S. society, especially as inhabitants of ghettos and barrios. This exclusion is positioned against what these women experience as the idea of inclusion in a Salvadoran homeland and nation. For these women, Salvadoran identity becomes about mediating diasporic displacement from El Salvador with the realities of local contexts. Secondly, I address the transformation of the title researcher through the activity of concurrently Being ethnographer and subject of study. As a self-identified Salvadoran women, the formal interviews and multiple informal interactions between myself and the three women developed into a complex reciprocal process of discussing issues and theories related to Salvadoran transnational identity and simultaneously conceptualizing that identity through praxis. The integration of researcher and researched into one became an important beginning point to expand the boundaries of ethnography. It allowed the possibility to think of ethnography as also being a form of action research. More significantly, in this case, it allowed for the opportunity to think of doing ethnographic action research by, from and for the margins. This implies that the knowledge produced as part of this ethnography may hold value not only to an academic institution but also to the community of inquiry

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