"I am Maya, not Guatemalan, nor Hispanic"—the Belongingness of Mayas in Southern Florida

Patrick T. Hiller, J. P. Linstroth, Paloma Ayala Vela


This article explores the personal meanings and public expressions of home, ethnicity and belonging among Maya/Guatemalan immigrants living in South Florida, specifically from the viewpoints of seven biographies of first and second-generation Maya immigrants. Our examination of their narratives suggests why these immigrants actively resist a public mis-categorization of being part of the Hispanic community by emphasizing their indigenous heritage. As such, this study provides a new type of research regarding Maya immigrants and their "positioning" or their "self-localization" as indigenous peoples seeking refuge in the United States. These are narratives of Maya lives, most of them child survivors, who fled the genocide in Guatemala with their families and who have faced discrimination while living in the United States. What is unique about our study is its emphasis upon biography for portraying particular facets of ethnicity and indigeneity and the difficult processes of transnational migration faced by Maya peoples now living in Florida.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0903106


Mayas; Guatemalans; ethnicity; Hispanics; belonging; home; immigration; immigrants; identity; biography

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-10.3.1361

Copyright (c) 2009 Patrick T. Hiller, J. P. Linstroth, Paloma Ayala Vela

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