Palabras de Lima: Immigration

Before starting my program in Peru, I took a class on the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade and learned that Peru is one of the first places in which African slavery had begun.

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Throughout the program, I have asked questions when opportunities arose to engage in the history of Afro-Peruanos. In many instances, people have referred to the history of slavery as “immigration.” This is the first time in my life that I had heard slavery referred to as immigration. I still am trying to learn when in history did the word immigration start being referred in reference to slavery. Something I have found are traces of Afro-Peruvian culture in music and art. Many Peruanos take pride in African roots as a part of national identity, but the discussion of enslavement and forced placement of them in Peru is something that I am still awaiting to participate in.

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Visiting communities such as the Barrio del pueblo Shipibo en Cantegallo, and Villa de Salvador, I have learned about Indigenous immigration to the city of Lima. In the United States, immigrants are typically referred to people and communities that arrive from nations outside of the state-nation boundaries. It is not typical to reference an immigrant as someone, even an indigenous person, within the boarders of the country; the movements of these people or communities are identified as “relocating.” This is why ideas of citizenship and nationality are at times, subjective and exclusionary in a different way than other countries. Indigenous communities are still forcing themselves into the city and are not provided socioeconomic support of permanent housing and a solid foundation to allow a strong community.

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