with Hannah Pinilla
This exhibit features the collaborative MA oral history research of Hannah Pinilla and her interview partners. Her research explores how the narrations, consumption, and preparation of ‘home foods’ facilitates interactive, diasporic ‘memory work’. In fall 2023, Hannah conducted two collaborative oral history interviews with nine Colombian migrants, both voluntary and forced, living in Montreal and Longueuil. In these interviews, participants were asked to narrate food-centred memories and explore foodwork as a form of diasporic storytelling. This research suggests that Colombian migrants bridge the past and the present, the here and there, and the then and now of the two social realities that they inhabit through quotidian, interactive, and embodied enactments of memory. Moreover, Hannah defends the value of recipe and food sharing in fostering a reciprocal and productive research relationship with migrant communities. The exhibit is a work of public history creation, featuring video installations and sensory memory prompts. It is intended to engage participants and visitors in reflections on food-centred practices of life history narration and storytelling.
Hannah Pinilla is an oral historian and MA student in public history with a specialization in digital humanities at Carleton University. Her SSHRC-funded master’s research project, “El Sabor del Hogar: The Transformation of Identity and Memory Through the Food Practices of Colombian Migrants in Quebec,” engages nine Colombian migrants, living in Montreal and Longueuil in oral history interviews facilitated through cooking sessions, to explore how the narration, preparation, and consumption of ‘home foods’ is a form of embodied and interactive diasporic memory work. Her research question was guided by my own lived experiences as the granddaughter of a first-generation Colombian-Canadian: how does the dialectical relationship between identity and memory manifest through food practice and what impact does it have on the process of home-building?