Barrios afroecuatorianos en Quito y la articulación de la identidad afroquiteña
Rocío Vera Santos
Afro-Ecuadorians today still face high levels of racial prejudice, stereotypes and stigmatization. Most Afro-Ecuadorians are very poor and live separately from other ethnic groups in barrios, suffering social and economic exclusion. Such barrios can be found for example in Quito’s suburbs and were founded in the 1980's and 1990’s, after several Afro-Ecuadorian families migrated to Ecuador’s capital in the 1970’s mainly due to economic reasons. The Afro-Ecuadorian barrios in Quito can be understood as physical, social and symbolical territories, in which their inhabitants construct cultural representations, articulate politics and local and global dynamics.
To improve integration of Afro-Ecuadorian people in Ecuador it is important to examine the articulation of Afro-Ecuadorian identity – or with reference to Quito an ‘Afro-Quitonian’ identity - and its interaction with representations. Hence, this study investigates how the Afro-Ecuadorian in their barrios in Quito, construct their identification, taking into account the processes of articulation of Afro-Ecuadorian identity from a historical perspective.
The study’s uses the articulation of identity concept for analysis, as is it allows to recognize that subjects strategically and according to their needs can access given positions as well as change, produce, select, negotiate or resist these positions or reaching other positions created by themselves. It assumes that there is no subject with a fixed, immutable identity over time, but that a decentralized subject exists with a multiplicity of identities, understood as differences created by history, by representations, and through discourses, practices and positions.
This study analyses how the inhabitants of the Afro-Ecuadorian barrios of Quito construct their identifications. It depicts dynamics, actions, creativity and organization of the Afro-Ecuadorian, which are based on the creation of Afro-Ecuadorian self-representations in contrast to the negative image that has historically been associated with black identity and in order to reclaim their identity in an urban context of marginalization, discrimination and racism.
Analyzing the process of articulation of Afro-Ecuadorian identity opens new ways of conceiving the identity not as homogeneous and static, based solely on their ancestral territories, but as something dynamic with transnational links that demonstrates its diversity and mobility through its cultural and political practices.