In 2007, I embarked on an auto-ethnographic research-creation where I retraced the geography of nineteenth-century Chinese coolie labor in Peru. En route I resurrected memories from cemeteries, guano mines on the Chincha Islands, coastal sugar and rice plantations, and railroads that led into the Andes, until I arrived by canoe to El Chino in the Amazonian Rainforest, where no Chinese live.
I documented my journey retracing coolie geography in a multi-platform project titled Taparaco Myth that can be experienced as a trilingual publication, video art, lecture performances and a migratory museum:
“Spanish Language Lesson: How to speak Chino for the Americano Speaker” was an urban-dictionary style lecture performance on how to speak Chinese using Spanish, thus revealing the folk etymology of the word “chino” as well as the depth of Latin-Asian cultural syncretism embedded within the local culture.
The Migratory Museum was a traveling archive of found objects and historical documents that documented the journey and was exhibited in several cultural and educational institutions in Lima and Bogota.
Taparaco Myth [Video], is an experimental documentary that traces the journey through landscapes where history whispers through old family albums of the descendants of the original coolies and migrants from Asia to Peru. Click here for Chapters Abuelos and El Encuentro.
Oral History interviews played a major role in piecing together the fragmented diasporic experience.
Taparaco Myth [Book] is a trilingual artist book written in Spanish, English and Chinese that recounts the voyage in first-person narrative, poetry, photography plus transcriptions of oral history told by the elders. A limited edition of the book includes an audio CD recording of the interviews with Chinese-Peruvian descendants.
The project was also published in a multimedia magazine format with post at MoMA.
The journey was made possible with the generous support of the Fulbright Commission as well as Colectivo Zoom's Fernando Javier Castro Villarreal(Antropólogo), Jessica Coronel Villarreal(Trabajadora Social), Joel Lozano Ramírez (Antropólogo), Gabriel Salazar Borja(Historiador), Helder Solari Pita(Antropólogo), Paola Villavicencio Núñez(Antropóloga).