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Short Bio (English)
Pilar Egüez Guevara, PhD is an Ecuadorian cultural anthropologist, writer and filmmaker. She is co-founder and director of Comidas que Curan, an independent food education and media company dedicated to research and promote traditional foods and knowledge through ethnographic research and film. Her films have been screened in three different languages across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. She is director and producer of Raspando Coco, an award-winning documentary about the culinary and medicinal traditions of Afro-Ecuadorians.
Through her research, public speaking and films, she amplifies the voices of older men and women who are the bearers of traditional knowledge about food and medicine. She has brought this work to communities in Ecuador through filmmaking and research education projects, as well as to US college students in the United States through film screenings and Q&A sessions. She is a published author and speaks internationally on topics ranging from cultural history, food heritage health, nutrition and conflict transformation. Learn more at www.comidasquecuran.org.
Pilar Egüez Guevara, PhD is an Ecuadorian award-winning filmmaker, cultural anthropologist and writer. She obtained her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship on community health, in 2012 she co-founded and directed Comidas que Curan, an independent food education and media company dedicated to research and promote traditional foods and knowledge through ethnographic research and film. In 2021 the US Library of Congress selected Comidas que Curan’s website for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the Food and Foodways Web Archive. Her films have been screened in three different languages across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Through her research, public speaking and films, she amplifies the voices of older men and women who are the bearers of traditional knowledge about food and medicine in Ecuador. She has brought this work to communities in Ecuador through filmmaking and research education projects, as well as to US college students in the United States through film screenings and Q&A sessions. Her film Raspando Coco (2019), a documentary advocating for the preservation of the culinary traditions of Afro-Ecuadorians, is now part of the library collections of 20 colleges and universities across the United States. Raspando Coco was nominated for best documentary short by the Indie Short Fest in Los Angeles (2019) and best foreign documentary by the Firenze Film Festival in Florence (2019). She also received honorable mention for best female director by the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles in 2019. She has worked directly with communities for over 15 years on research and community-based projects in Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, and the United States.
She is a published author and speaks internationally on topics ranging from cultural history, food heritage and nutrition, health and conflict transformation.
Biografía corta (español)
Pilar Egüez Guevara, PhD, es doctora en antropología cultural y documentalista quiteña. Es directora y fundadora de Comidas que Curan, una productora de documentales independiente dedicada a revalorizar los saberes sobre alimentación y medicina tradicional a través de la investigación y el cine. Ha dirigido varios documentales entre ellos Raspando coco, una película sobre las tradiciones culinarias afro-esmeraldeñas, que ha sido premiada en festivales internacionales y presentada en tres idiomas (español, inglés y japonés) en América, Europa y Asia. Es autora de publicaciones científicas en inglés y español e imparte cursos y charlas internacionalmente en espacios académicos y comunitarios. Conoce más en www.comidasquecuran.org.
Pilar Egüez Guevara, PhD: es doctora en antropología, escritora y documentalista quiteña especialista en alimentación, conflicto y salud. Es co-fundadora y directora de Comidas que Curan, una consultora y productora de documentales independiente dedicada a revalorizar los saberes sobre alimentación y medicina tradicional a través de la investigación y el cine. Ha producido varios documentales sobre las cocinas tradicionales del Ecuador. Su más reciente proyecto es la serie de cortometrajes sobre cocina tradicional manabita Jóvenes guardianes de saberes. Es directora y productora del documental Raspando coco (www.raspandococo.com) (2018) sobre las tradiciones culinarias afro-esmeraldeñas, que fue premiado y presentado en festivales de cine, universidades y espacios comunitarios en América Latina, EEUU, Europa y Japón. Tiene un doctorado y dos maestrías en antropología cultural, una licenciatura en Economía y más de 15 años de trabajo en investigación y proyectos comunitarios en Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador y Estados Unidos. Es autora de publicaciones científicas en inglés y español e imparte cursos y charlas internacionalmente en espacios académicos y comunitarios. Su curso virtual “Cocina para fortalecer el sistema inmunológico” en colaboración con La Red de Guardianes de Semillas (Ecuador) se puede acceder a través de www.madresemilla.com. Conoce más en www.comidasquecuran.org.
Background and research projects
I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador where most of my extended family still lives. I obtained a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) in 2013. I then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at UIUC. I also have a master’s degree in Social Sciences from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences FLACSO-Ecuador, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wellesley College, MA. I have lived and worked in the United States, Japan, Cuba, Ecuador, Argentina as a consultant on issues of culture, history, health, food, economics, gender and race relations.
My research at the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, UIUC focused on the relationships between nutrition, lifestyle factors and chronic disease among aging populations in Latin America using statistical, historical and ethnographic methods. The quantitative portion of my research is a collaboration with Dr. Flavia Andrade analyzing national survey data on the health and well being of older adults in Ecuador and Brazil. We look at demographic, gender and socio-economic gaps in the prevalence of chronic diseases and in «successful» life expectancies (lived without disability) among older adults. Find abstracts two of our co-authored articles here and here.
Simultaneously I studied global food politics, culture and inequality historically and ethnographically based on fieldwork with elders and family members in Ecuador, Cuba and other parts of Latin America and the U.S. Latina/o diaspora. I am particularly interested in the appropriation and re-branding of traditional and ancestral foods within emergent health and food movements in the United States. I have written, taught and presented about the gentrification of quinua, coconut and sugar and more broadly, about the anthropology of food. I like to unpack notions of authenticity and traditionality in the understandings about food using historical and cross-cultural lenses.
Out of this research was born Comidas que curan, an independent education project in collaboration with La Poderosa Media Project blending ethnography and film to document food traditions and transformations in Ecuador and Latin America. Follow us on facebook at Comidas que Curan. Learn more about this project here.
In my doctoral dissertation (download here) I wrote about «good manners,» an idea that rich Cuban elites in the 19th century started using to distinguish themselves from lower classes of color and from Spanish colonists. I argued for the importance of bodily manners and ways of behaving in addition to other more explicitly racial, gender, and class markers in influencing social boundaries and structuring hierarchies in Cuban and Latin American societies. I examined books of conduct, paintings, novels, travel chronicles and archival records which I researched during 5 years of consecutive trips to Havana, Cuba.
I also published about Cuban dance and music in the 19th century, particularly the novel idea of «sabor» to describe Cuban popular mixed genres such as the danza and the danzón.
I have directed several short documentaries about food in Ecuador, watch them here: www.youtube.com/c/comidasquecuranvideo
I enjoy living, traveling and learning in the transnational space in and between my three homes: Ecuador, Cuba and the United States.
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