Latine Project

I’m currently looking at the very broad scope of Latine identity in what is now known as the United States, but also the correlation of that identity to the roots of Turtle Island and Occupied South America, namely Chile. I’m also probing into Chilean-American identity and the various iterations of it, including indigenous reclamation as well as Afro-Chileno/Afro-Indigenous populations in Chile.

In doing this, I’m also trying to genealogically trace my family history which is far more difficult and complex than originally expected as has little to no information on PanLatine and PanAfrican ancestry. This has lead me to find alternative resources, but it is quite difficult to nail certain things down. Many of the sites where Chilenos can do deep ancestry searches are in person, in Chile.

I am also teaching myself Mapudungun and in the process of reaching out to professors, writers and scholars who speak on all of these topics.

If anyone knows of credible ancestry sites besides FamilySearch, I would greatly appreciate it!

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6 thoughts on “Latine Project

  1. Paloma Thoen


    Sounds like a powerful & difficult piece to write. I’m interested in the emotion behind all of this and what genealogically tracing your family means to you.

    Do you have any family members who also attempted to go down this road? When you found out that most of the sites to do deep ancestry searches were in Chile, was there a part of you that considered to go there? What do you hope to find out? Why is this so important to you? Have you ever met someone who was Chilean and able trace their ancestry?

    These are just some questions that immediately popped into my head as I read your proposal—I don’t know any ancestry sites at the moment but I will be sure to ask around.

  2. Jason Tougaw

    I wish I knew ancestry sites. That said, I think it can really work to create a narrative around the research process and explore where you run into gaps or obstacles, why they’re there, and how you deal with them. I’d be really curious to read that.

    I also like imagining a world in which the pandemic has subsided and you get a grant to go do that in-person research.

    Are some of the professors in Chile? I wonder if they might have leads.

  3. Catherine LaSota

    Hi, L – I’m so excited to hear more about your journey and read this work as it develops. I know I knock my employer, Columbia, a lot, but one thing I can say about their Global Centers program is that they actually work with local scholars and staff rather than colonize an area with an extension campus like, oh, say…NYU. Anyway, there is a Columbia Global Center | Santiago, and a couple of our working groups at CSSD (Center for the Study of Social Difference, where I am Executive Director), have collaborated with that Global Center (there are contributions from Chilean artists and scholars in the relatively recently published eponymous book from our Women Mobilizing Memory group – published by Columbia University Press). Anyway, I don’t know if I have any good leads for scholars in the area, but I might?

    I don’t know how much the Santiago Global Center is doing during COVID, but here you go:

    And more about Women Mobilizing Memory:
    (Maria Jose Contreras is wonderful and I think currently living in NYC, fyi)

    Also interested how much you are interested (or not!) in bringing the current Chilean political climate into this work? – so much being done by amazing feminists.

  4. Rebecca Suzuki

    Hi L,

    This sounds so fascinating and we sort of have a similar theme of exploring our identity!

    I am particularly interested in your journey of learning Mapudungun, and would love to read about some of the words you learn and the way the language works, and how it ties into Chilean history and people. I think it would be so valuable to speak to professors and scholars who specialize in the language, but also would be worthwhile to speak to or check out artists who use the language in their work. Sort of related is a podcast I listened to recently about Libertato Kani, a Peruvian rapper who incorporates the Quechuan language in his music: Because this project sounds quite personal, I would love to read about what you’re feeling as you learn the language, if it speaks to you in some way, your relationship to the colonizers’ language, etc.

    I’m so looking forward to reading!!

  5. Katie Machen

    Hi L,
    I’ll second (third?) some others saying I’m so excited to hear more about this work, which sounds so powerful. I would also love to hear more about your time learning Mapudungun, how you’re going about learning the language (what avenues), if you have anyone to speak the language with, how that makes you feel as you think about your family history and also the history of Chile. Maybe sections of your piece will be written in Mapudungun and maybe you translate, maybe you don’t? I’m also wondering if you have or if you’re planning to do any family interviews.

    In terms of leads for ancestry searches, I wish I had any, but I hope that some of the people you’re reaching out to (scholars, etc), especially those located in Chile, can give you better ideas. As it stands, it sounds like a piece that braids these threads could expand into something really large if you wanted to, maybe thesis-length? Looking forward to discussing more!

  6. Michelle

    What a fantastic project, L! I need to learn about ancestry research too for my project, and you’re inspiring me to move forward.

    You may have already tried this, but just in case you haven’t… the librarians for Mina Rees have been pretty extraordinary during the pandemic. They’ve found paths toward resources I had no idea were out there, and with hands-on Zoom sessions to navigate new tools. I wonder if they might know of additional ancestry sites besides the


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