I am a cultural anthropologist from Ecuador with training in economics, history, population and gender studies. I have lived, taught and researched in and about Ecuador, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. on issues of race and ethnicity, culture, history, global food politics, food justice, film-making, and public health.
Pilar Egüez Guevara, Anthropology Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.Her research currently focuses on the relationships between nutrition, lifestyle factors and chronic disease among aging populations in Latin America using statistical, historical and ethnographic methods. She is director and co-founder of Comidas que curan, an independent education project documenting food traditions and transformations in Ecuador through ethnography and film. For more information contact pilareguez (twitter); Comidas que Curan (facebook) ; comidasquecuran.com.ec ; quinuaqueens.wordpress.com
I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador where most of my extended family still lives. I have lived in the United States for the past ten years, where I obtained a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). I currently work 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, 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 focuses 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 study 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.
This research is part of my work as research director and co-founder of Comidas que curan, an independent education project in collaboration with La Poderosa Media Project documenting food traditions and transformations in Ecuador through ethnography and film. 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 write and research 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 am currently working on a manuscript about the racial and class politics at masquerade dance balls during the carnival season in colonial Havana.
I enjoy living, traveling and learning in the transnational space in and between my three homes: Ecuador, Cuba and the United States.