Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Latin American Studies Program


Winifred Tate

Second Advisor

Ben Fallaw

Third Advisor

Chandra Bhimull


The human geography of Ecuador is changing. Urban Afro-Ecuadorians now outnumber those living in the two rural regions that have been the ancestral homelands of the population. This physical transformation assaults Ecuador's historically racialized geography, which conflated cities, modernity and white-mestizo identity. Though Afro-Ecuadorians living in the rural north had previously been physically and figuratively located outside of the national project, Ecuador’s new constitution has sought to reverse this institutionalized exclusion. National belonging has been reframed through the concept of interculturality, which recognizes diversity and equality at the same time. I conducted two periods of fieldwork in the north-central Chota Valley, specifically in the Afro-Ecuadorian communities of La Concepción and Salinas. During this time, I observed cultural production through the lenses of agriculture, food preparation, gastronomic tourism, and ethnoeducation. In this thesis, I examine how these practices are contested by migration and interculturality. I suggest that interculturality narrowly defines diversity by ethnicity, which in Ecuador is tethered to specific geographic sites. The people left behind in the Chota Valley must therefore uphold traditions that qualify the authenticity of the entire Afro-Ecuadorian diaspora despite dwindling population and resources in the valley itself. Drawing upon my ethnographic fieldwork, I argue that women have been disproportionately saddled with preserving and generating Afro-Ecuadorian culture. This gendered burden may have broader implications towards revealing the limitations and selectivity of the intercultural imagination.


Ecuador, urbanization, Afro ethnicity, interculturality, community tourism, food and cultural meaning