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Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas and Mérida M. Rúa

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479805198

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479805198.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

(Re)Claiming Public Space and Place

(Re)Claiming Public Space and Place

Maya Community Formation in Westlake/MacArthur Park

(p.146) 11 (Re)Claiming Public Space and Place
Critical Dialogues in Latinx Studies

Alicia Ivonne Estrada

NYU Press

The ongoing systemic violence in Guatemala has forced thousands of Mayas to cross the US/Mexican border. Once in the United States, they encounter multiple forms of sociopolitical marginalization from state entities and by non-Indigenous Latina/os. Yet, as they navigate within a hostile national environment that needs their labor but rejects their presence, Maya immigrants in Los Angeles have employed various survival strategies that situate the (re)affirmation of their culture and knowledge as central. It is in this context that I examine how the construction of a weekend mercado on the public sidewalks of the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood where many Mayas reside creates a sense of community and place. The informal market in this part of Los Angeles serves as an important survival strategy in a racialized city with growing social inequalities. It is in their performance of market relations that Indigenous street vendors and their customers transmit the embodied cultural memory and practices of Mesoamerican mercados. Collectively, vendors as well as their customers and members of the community visually reproduce social relations and networks customary in Guatemala. The public performativity and reproduction of these dynamics also function as a means of remembering and transmitting embodied memory in the diaspora.

Keywords:   Maya, diaspora, Los Angeles, Westlake/MacArthur Park, street vendors, Guatemala, indigenous

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